Updated: Dec 21, 2021
Gardeners are learning all the time. We learn by being out in our gardens, observing while we get dirt under our nails. We learn by going to conferences, local garden talks and more than often this past year, we have signed up for countless Zoom presentations by well-known experts.
How lucky to catch “The Humane Gardener” Nancy Lawson the other night. Many thanks to the wonderful group who sponsored her talk, the Williamson County Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas. You can check them out here: https://npsot.org/wp/wilco/
Have you read Nancy’s Lawson’s incredible book? “The Humane Gardener, Nurturing a Backyard for Wildlife,” is groundbreaking in that Lawson asks gardeners to consider wildlife, from the tiniest ant to the largest creatures (deer) as part of your garden planning. She champions for nature and commonsense gardening tactics (as opposed to what lawncare advertisers have sought to promote).
The more somber takeaways from her talk:
Endless expanses of turf grass surrounding homes: You have taken away all of the native foods and left our wild friends with nothing to eat.”
Turf grass is a void, a death trap. There is no nests, no overwintering, no homes for nature’s creatures.
Remove the native tall plants and grass and shrubs, and there is nowhere to hide from predators.
There has ben a 75% decline in insect populations in the past 50 years; three billon birds have vanished since 1970 and 60% of the vertebrate population has shrunk.
Talk takeaways that give us hope:
You know that tall, common weed-the one called Pokeweed? It is a top berry source for migrating birds (painted buntings, bluebirds, and others).
Fleabane, another common native, feeds multitudes of early bees in spring.
Got lawn violets? They are a go-to for bunnies and deer and miner bees and are a larval host plant for the Great Spangled Fritillary.
Pesticides: If we don't spray for mosquitoes, their natural predators, such as damselflies and skippers (and others) can do their work and do it more effectively without poison.
If we don't build up beds of mulch, there won't be such a vole problem. Voles like the cozy warmth of mulch, so you have invited them. If you poison them, the owls, hawks and coyotes, who are their predator, will also be poisoned. The poison moves up the food web.
We are all connected. Let nature take the lead.
You will find there is more upbeat information than not
in Lawson’s book, so it is well-worth a look at “The Humane Gardener, Nurturing a Backyard for Wildlife,” as well as her website: https://www.humanegardener.com/
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