Posts

It's Time To Move On From "Simple"

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Since the publication of Bringing Nature Home , we seem to be stuck in the infancy of what creating living landscapes is really all about.  What brought so many to the connection between landscape design and the possibilities of creating habitat for birds and pollinators has now somehow also caused us to be in a state of arrested development in my opinion.  Dr. Tallamy's messages are simple.  Native plants are better than nonnative ones and some of these - like oaks, are better than others.  Insects, but especially the caterpillars of moths and butterflies, form the foundation of the food web and planting the "Top 10" on his list, regardless of species within that genus, is the path to achieving our shared ecological goals. As a species, I think we gravitate towards the simplistic.  We want the messages we get to be simple. We do not want things to be any more complicated than needed.  The problem from my perspective, however, is that most messages are more complicated th

An Update on the Landscape

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  Reflecting today on the progress I've made with this landscape.  As we look out over our work on a daily basis, it is sometimes difficult to truly see how far we've progressed.  When I moved into this rental home over 4 years ago, there was very little here in terms of vegetation and virtually no life within it. As I've written before, I could not even find a honeybee to pollinate my newly planted key lime and I had to do the work myself in order to get some fruit.  It was a staggeringly barren desert here and, I suspect, much like the landscapes around me.   Today, things have changed markedly.  I no longer have to hand-pollinate the flowers here as they open and the woody plants are starting to provide some habitat.  I still do not have the cavalcade of spring and fall migrants that graced the landscape of my former home, but I'm noticing small changes. A few days ago, I saw a female summer tanager and a pair of white-eyed vireos here.  They didn't stay long, bu

Permanence

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  Gum bully - Sideroxylon lanuginosa Events in my life lately have caused me to think about permanence. We go through life thinking we know what the next day, the next month, the next year and the future beyond that will look like, but the reality is that we have no idea. It doesn't take much to upend our plans. Then, we find that each day that does go forward as we think it will is a blessing to be treasured. Having plans is a wonderful thing. Having them actually happen is much more so.   We do this in our landscapes. We plant with the belief that our plants will grow and that our landscapes will develop according to plan. Gardeners are some of the world's greatest optimists and without that optimism most of us would quit.  Often, this optimism works in our favor, but occasionally it is heartbreaking - especially when a treasured addition that we look at as a lynchpin to our plantings fails. We find that, despite our best planting knowledge, forces outside our control take ov

Saving the Planet

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Apalachicola rosemary - Conradina glabra I started my life in native plants with a mission to create living landscapes. As a wildlife biologist recently hired by the University of Florida to initiate a statewide program devoted to urban wildlife, it became obvious early on that I would have to learn Florida native plants and come to understand how to use them in a landscape to provide habitat for birds, pollinators and other wildlife. After all, plants comprise a significant portion of what becomes habitat.  All of this, of course, was before there were things like the internet and social media. My knowledge, for what it is, had to be derived mostly by observation and I spent a great many hours hiking/walking natural areas. I also began the planting of natives in my landscape. My ex-wife used to chastise me for going outside regularly to "stare at my garden" - and I did of course.  Hours of 'staring" has taught me more about plants and the life that is drawn to and b

Expectation

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  Expectation is defined as the feeling that good things are going to happen in the future.   Without it, we become depressed by what may lie ahead, and with it we plant seeds for tomorrow with a belief that our efforts will lead to something worthwhile.   Though I have never been accused of being an optimist, I believe that my life is rich with expectation. We live in a world that is rife with things to be depressed about: the future effects of climate change and biodiversity collapse, the invasion of sovereign nations with no real purpose other than to secure power, and the loss of empathy for the unfortunate to name just a few, but we move ahead with the expectation that we can turn things around for the better.   Without expectation, there would be no need to plant this landscape with native plants. What would be the point? The truth is that I have accomplished a lot over these 4+ years that some might have thought unrealistic.   I expect to accomplish even more in the years ahea

Spring 2022 - Don't be A Zonist

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Downy Serviceberry - Amelanchier arborea Littlehip haw - Crataegus spathulata Flatwoods plum - Prunus umbellata The small deciduous woodland that I planted soon after arriving here in my new (rental) home in Holiday is entering its fourth spring and it is maturing nicely.  It contains most of my favorite woody trees and shrubs - virtually all deciduous, and a great many that are not native to my "zone". I am vehemently opposed to planting zones as a determinant to what to plant.  Planting zones were established solely for giving guidance to fruit and vegetable gardeners as to when the last frost was likely to occur.  It was about such things as "don't plant your tomatoes in central MN  until after this date because they might freeze."  It was NEVER about determining what species of plant you could successfully grow in your landscape.  It truly makes NO difference to your planting palette unless you are using frost-sensitive native species north of their toleranc

What Exactly Is A Freedom Lawn?

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  There seems to be a lot of discussion on the social media pages I subscribe to about "freedom lawns".  I've yet to fully see such a thing defined, but I take it to be an area where the "lawn" is allowed the freedom to be what it becomes; unfettered by the "control" of the property owners with minimal management other than the removal of the most aggressive nonnative/invasive species, and no inputs such as additional water, fertilizer, and pesticides. Of course, not everyone seems to have the same definition, but all of the ones that I see come pretty close to this.  If the ecological movement to create "living landscapes" has degenerated to this, the movement has lost... Benign neglect can never equal a purposeful planting. It's just never gong to be close to equivalent, unless perhaps you are not starting from a typical suburban lawn setting and have the advantage of beginning with a landscape that is already mostly natural.  Above, is