The adventure begins here. Plant it and they will come.
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Food: Native plants with year round fruit, nuts, seeds, leaves and flowers. Lots of insects.
Water: Bird baths, water features, streams or ponds. Open water in winter too.
Shelter: Varied options for birds and insects to hide from predators, lay eggs, raise young. Leaf litter, nest boxes, snags (dead trees), brush piles.
Pesticides: Bugs eat leaves, birds eat bugs. Birds need bugs to thrive. Let bugs eat some leaves. The trees really don’t mind.
Stress: Let it be. Nature is the best designer and takes care of things pretty darn well.
When plants get to live where they evolved, the place and conditions that are just right for them, they require little input to be happy and healthy. How to know what is the right plant for your place?
What conditions do you offer? Is your place sunny, shady, windy, wet, or dry? You may have all these conditions in different parts of your place: lots of opportunities for a variety of happy plants.
What kind of soil do you have? – Dig some holes in different areas. Rub the soil between your fingers. Is it sandy or sticky (clay). Pour some water in. Does it drain well? Take a sniff. Earthy means good organic content. There are plants for all different soils. Choose plants that like yours.
Are your plants Natives? Exotics? Invasives? No idea what you have? Ask your County Cooperative Extension State Extension Master Gardener Program, local garden club, or neighborhood know-it-all. Bird watchers are often good sources too, check out local clubs like Audubon.
Where are you? Do you know your ecosystem? Visit a natural/wild place nearby. Check out the plants and plantings you think are beautiful. Copy that.
What do you want? “Woody” plants are trees and shrubs; “Herbaceous” are flowers, grasses, groundcovers.
Where? Sun or shade, wet or dry. Replace some lawn you aren’t using.
Which? See below: Data bases, Books
Go shopping. Start with local garden centers and encourage them to stock a good selection and offer great advice. Follow up with online growers. Confirm they grow without pesticides, especially neonics.
Befriend a gardener – join a garden club
It is all about the process, not products. Don’t default to buying something. If it comes in a package, what has that got to do with the natural process?
Most insects are good. They are food for birds. Get to know who you wish to kill. Bug Finder and many more
There is always more you can do, it just gets more interesting.
The Ten Commitments
“If you do not know the names of things, the knowledge of them is lost, too.”
— Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778)
Speak Botanical Latin – it isn’t as hard as it may seem.
Latin names are daunting for many, but a cozy club for the initiated. They are both descriptive and poetic. For instance: Viburnum dentatum; The first word is the Genus, the second is the species. There are many different Viburnums, a type of flowering shrub. The species name is generally descriptive, and helpful in recognizing which is which. In this case, dentatum is the Viburnum species with the dentate (toothed) leaf edges.
Don’t be afraid to just dive in and start using them, and saying them out loud. Pronunciation is highly subjective and only needs to be delivered with confidence to be accepted, but you generally can’t miss if you put the accent on the second syllable. The hero of all this is Carl Linnaeus, who invented the system, which is based on sex. He also had a great eye: he papered his bedroom walls with botanical prints…in the 1700’s.
Read the Classics:
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