The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn; the bird waits in the egg; and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities. ~ James Allen
It seems not long ago my soul awoke from a long, cold, snowy winter with spring niggling at the fringes of my dreams. And with it came a new reality filled with warmth, green things growing and wildlife stirring and chirping. While March has always been an erratic month in terms of weather we can at least count on April and May to be “normal”. But recently these months seem to be extreme in the weather department as well.
While many seasons have dramatic shifts as they are ending, none seems more violent than spring around here. The wind, snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain can come all in the matter of minutes. May in particular has been out of character this spring. We have had summer warmth, freezing temps, violent thunderstorms, and fall cold (late frosts and freezes) and wind. But not so much spring-like weather.
With all the unpredictable weather, it can be hard on any garden, and cause a gardener to want to tear their hair out. But I have found planting natives to be the best option as they do not disappoint in growth, blooms and habitat for wildlife. They seem to create less stress for this gardener and very few worries.
I have been converting my garden into a native wildlife habitat over the past few years, and I thought I would give an update. The biggest change this year has been the first phase in taking down the ash trees due to the Emerald Ash Borer that is now in my county. We took 4 of the 8 ash trees down, and left 3 stumps and 1 snag tall enough to use as a birdhouse stand.
With the change in the tree canopy, I am re-evaluating the different areas in the garden and looking to shift plants and design. Some areas will now have more sun, and the shade lovers currently there may not appreciate it. I am only replacing 4 of the 8 ash trees, but it will be slow going to get any substantial growth before 5 -10 years depending on how fast the new trees grow. Currently I have some new specimens in pots to give me time to clear the areas where they will be planted, and make sure the right conditions exist.
We are hoping to grow an American Basswood, Eastern Redbud, Pagoda Dogwood, and American Fringe Tree. I also have a Black Cherry growing in the meadow, but will probably move it to the White Garden in time. We are also planting a Staghorn Sumac in the meadow with a few Spicebushes. And in the garden, the remaining Spicebushes and some additional winterberries are being planted. I added a native Elderberry, Serviceberry, Crabapple and Witch Hazel last year. Sorry there are not too many great pictures of these young trees and bushes as they are but mere twigs at this point.
I am retiring this summer from my career of 30+ years in education, and plan to devote more time to my wildlife garden. I hope you enjoy the visitors I will continue to share here as well as the wonderful plants I plan to add.
As I contemplate my retirement I am reminded that gardens are the perfect place to reconnect with ourselves, to find our path and seek peace. I look at my wildlife garden as a place to co-create with Mother Nature instead of trying to control her. It is an amazing feeling one can get from the creative forces found in gardening. The wonderful lessons the critters and plants can teach us, and the messages they send with each visit.
In order to co-create we must first respect nature by being responsible stewards of the land. That stewardship is found when we:
- do not use chemicals especially chemical insecticides and fertilizers that can destroy valuable insects and microorganisms in our soil.
- use organic soils, compost, plants and seeds now that so much of our soil has chemical fertilizers, and seeds and plants are contaminated and compromised by being GMOs.
- respect and enjoy all critters including the insects. I learn so much from the critters who visit us, and we really cannot pick and choose who we want in a wildlife garden. We need to learn to live with them all.
- plant some for ourselves and some for wildlife. I plant certain herbs like dill and parsley for me and some for the butterflies who use these as host plants.
- are careful about what we plant so as not to add plants that will harm the natural order and critters like invasives.
- tap into the natural rhythms of nature by watching the cycles of the moon, the sun and the patterns of weather. Nature can give us so much valuable information.
In these ways, we honor nature and in return nature honors us. Creating a balanced relationship with the environment may be the only thing WE can do to make a difference these days. But each drop in the bucket we contribute through our responsible stewardship will help fill the world once again in a positive direction.
What are you dreaming about for your wildlife garden?
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