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Eight Ways To Love Fall Leaves

When we left ten days ago, our lawn looked like this:

 

When we came back, this was what our lawn looked like:  

 

and this was the neighbor’s:

 After six years I still can’t convince him that there are much better ways to get rid of fall leaves than sending them to the dump in black plastic bags. 

 

Need Joy In Your Autumn Landscape? Add Shrubs

I took an objective look at my front yard this week and determined it was sadly lacking in fall color. My four yellow mums in pots flanking the doorway just didn’t bring me quite enough joy. (Yes, I admit it  – I have been doing a Marie Kondo purge) What I really want are huge bursts of riotous color and texture before a long Midwestern winter with its ice, snow and freezing temperatures sets in. 

Birds of a Feather Aren't Flocking Together

I’ve been sitting at my desk this morning, supposedly writing this week’s blog about mulch. What I have really been doing however, is staring out the window watching the hummingbirds battle at the feeders. There are only two consistently here this week, which is sad. Normally, from early September through mid October, there are six or eight of the little bullies determined to dominate the feeders. It seems that things in the hummingbird world have changed.

If Not Mums, Then What?

After last week's blog,  a very good question came up.  A client asked,  "If I decide to become a native plant purist and avoid mums, then what should I plant instead?  

Do Mums Belong in a Pollinator Garden?

I popped into our local big box store yesterday to pick up a few bags of rock I needed to finish one of my backyard pathways. As I pulled into the parking lot, a huge sign greeted me, reminding me that planting fall blooming flowers helps keep our native pollinators fed. Since my garden is severely lacking in masses of blooms to feed my winged visitors right now, I decided to see what they had to offer. 

At first glance, I was thrilled; the garden center was absolutely bursting with blooms  —  dozens of colors and shapes and varieties —of chrysanthemums.  Benches and benches full of them  –  and very few other nectar rich choices for the mum-reluctant gardener.

Creating A Real Pollinator Garden

I came home from the Perennial Plant Association’s National Symposium determined to tear out every single one of my garden beds and start completely over. In my mind, as I judged them against the images and designs I had seen, there was no question  –  mine were shameful and had to go!  Thankfully, my husband pulled the shovel out of my hands and talked me down from the cliff. My reaction to an educational seminar may seem just a bit extreme, but if you ever have the opportunity to hear Claudia West, landscape architect and co-author of one of my favorite books Planting In A Post-Wild World speak, I guarantee you will understand.

Patience is the Key to a Successful Butterfly Garden

One of my favorite things to do this summer is to quietly sit on my deck, watching dozens of butterflies floating through the yard enjoying the nectar buffet I’ve planted. This is the first year that I’ve had a steady stream of visitors and it feels like the time, effort and money I’ve put into the pollinator garden the last few years are finally paying off.

MONARCH BUTTERFLIES ARE FACING EXTINCTION

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN), has officially added the migratory monarch butterfly to its list of endangered species. Unless there are immediate, concerted efforts to restore its habitats and halt climate change, this beloved butterfly will become extinct. One subspecies, the western monarch, is at particular risk. In 2021, researchers determined that less than 2,000 of them exist.