Friday, July 17, 2015

Natural neighborhoods: re-knitting the fabric of life

What's interesting me now, especially, as I've transitioned to volunteer outreach, is how those of us who are keen and passionate about gardening for nature (especially with native plants in mind) can help reach more folks.

And even more importantly, how do we create neighborhoods that help sustain life, both ours and the birds, bees, toads, butterflies, squirrels, insects, etc. that support the ecological underpinnings of life on our planet.

a pollinator-friendly pocket meadow
I've seen lots of people gravitate to wildlife-friendly gardening from more "traditional" gardening practices (and from plants that don't work for a living in our environment to ones that do), as they realize that they don't have the biological diversity of birds, insects, and other wildlife in sterile, ornamental landscapes filled with lawns, specimen trees and ornamental shrubs.  But there's a lot to do in our urban and suburban landscapes...

How do we encourage more folks to become part of the process of re-knitting our urban and suburban landscapes with strong threads of native plants, pollinator and wildlife-friendly corridors made up of our personal home gardens?  How do we encourage similar plantings in public and commercial landscapes?

I'm not really sure.

I've been involved with teaching about these things for my entire career, and I'm still not always sure about what works the best, aside from inspiring through story and example, encouragement, and sharing ideas and suggestions.

My basic level ideas simply start by encouraging folks to grow things, preferably native or edible, and learn more about them.


  1. Lisa, this is the key question in gardening today. (IMO) How do we get people to understand how sterile their yards are and why that is so very bad. I've decided that I had to be an example. So I am tearing out grass and putting in perennials and all sorts of natives. My neighbors have been very keen on watching the progress. I hope to put in a much larger area this fall. I think we just have to meet people at their current level and gently coax them along. My patch of flowering perennials, the only one in the neighborhood, is one of the best enticements that I have up my sleeve right now! ~Julie

  2. Julie, you're so right that this is a key issue in gardening today.

    Leading by example is huge (I always think about Garden Walk in Buffalo around encouraging people to plant!)

    They have over 350 gardens now participating in Garden Walk. Now, these are "conventional" gardens, to be sure, but hey, it's better than sterile lawns or Asian shrubs that just sit there.

    I'm thinking about median, corner, and container plantings filled with (native) pollinator-friendly plants at the moment.

    We'll see.

    Yay for setting an example!


I enjoy hearing from fellow nature lovers and gardeners. Let me know your thoughts.

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