Yesterday I celebrated New Year’s Day at the Nature Preserve near my home. The experience was so right, so delicious, that I decided to again vote for myself today, and get out to another natural area nearby: the Wilton Wildlife Preserve in Saratoga Springs, NY, which contains sandy pine flats and lots of Blue Lupine (Lupinus perennis), which is the host plant for the federally and state endangered Karner Blue Butterfly. Essentially this butterfly species has become threatened because their habitat has been usurped. The Preserve maintains the necessary open meadows with controlled burning. This season is significantly quieter than spring, summer or fall for a garden designer, and I relish the down time to draw wildlife gardening inspiration from natural habitat spaces.
Elsewhere there may be evidence of competition, as sucession unfolds her inevitable process, peace can’t pervade eternal. Struggles for resources develop as trees get too big to share, and some fall and become humus. (In a wildlife garden setting, that is when we dig up the extra plants to share with our friends.)
Nature’s innate generosity with the native wildlife can be staggering, and certainly a characteristic I’d like to assimilate into my garden design strategy and style. Little Bluestem Grass Schizachyrium scoparium offers seeds for overwintering birds, and a modicum of shelter year round.
Same color of inspiration with Goldenrod, Solidago spp.. Native birds eat the seeds of wildly occuring Goldenrod and native bees’ habitat is supported by offering pollen late in the summer and early fall, when it is harder to find blooming flowers.
My goal as a garden designer is to create naturally beautiful and low maintenance garden spaces. The curves, plant proximity, layering, arrangement and shapes of naturally occuring ecosystems is the truth my brain needs to absorb for any hope of being successful with designing a blank canvas in a suburban backyard. Books are helpful. But a mental re-arranging, a reprogramming of what the world is supposed to look like is invaluable.
John Muir famously admonished us to, “Climb these mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as cares drop off like autumn leaves.” Finding naturally beautiful places to visit and learning to cherish them is a ginormous priviledge. Seeking wildlife garden inspiration from nature herself is a nourishing practice that develops my interior world with a beauty not my own. I am reassured of a jen na sais quoi that exists, is accessible and no one can steal from me.
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