Just seven short years ago, I wasn’t a gardener. Not really. I helped my husband plant vegetable seeds, but the only things we really grew were sweet corn, green beans, and sometimes, carrots. There were entire summers where I didn’t even plant one flower.
Then I became a gardener. I don’t know exactly why all of a sudden it was something I wanted to do, but I dove in head first and it consumed my life. I could never have dreamed of all the ways growing a garden would change the way I did and thought about things.
There were the flowers, of course. But with the flowers came insects. I’ve never really had a phobia about insects, but for a long time I detested spiders. Well, you really can’t be a gardener and not learn how to co-exist with them. Because of the time I spend in the garden, I’ve grown to love them and am fascinated by them. I seek out more information about those insects I come face-to-face with as I work among the plants. They have my respect for the important role they play in the world.
Several years ago, our garden was designated both a Certified Wildlife Habitat and a Certified Monarch Waystation. Living out in the country the way we do, wildlife is a given. We already had many monarchs and other butterflies spending time among the flowers, but I learned how to attract even more of them. And I gave up the use of harmful chemicals in the garden.
We love to hike in the woods, and I started to take a closer look at the wildflowers I saw. I began to research wildflowers native to our area. We now have a place on our property that I call “Wildflower Way.” It’s full of native spring ephemerals that I’ve collected over the last several years and I look forward to spring, when they blanket the area.
We now grow more edibles, too. We’ve added grapes, blackberries, strawberries, lingonberries, blueberries, and in the garden proper, a medley of veggies are grown each summer.
I simply have a new appreciation for the natural world around me and the incredible ways it all works together. All because I became a gardener.
Kylee Baumle lives and gardens in Zone 5b in Northwest Ohio farm country. She is the author of Our Little Acre, where she writes about her adventures with wildlife, insects, plants, and her cats. She is also a feature writer for Indiana Gardener and Ohio Gardener magazines, as well as the Book Review Editor at Horticulture. You can follow her on Facebook at Our Little Acre and on Twitter @OurLittleAcre.
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