Summary: Despite huge environmental problems in the world, gardeners can create a new kind of garden that provides habitat for vanishing wildlife
Droughts and wildfires blanket the southwest. The Rain Forest is disappearing. The Polar Bears are in trouble. Tigers, whales, and rhinos are being hunted to extinction. Our food supply is in danger. Pollinating bees are dying.
There’s a lot of really big problems in the world. So many in fact that it’s very easy to throw our hands up in despair and think that there’s nothing any of us can do except write checks to large conservation organizations and hope they find a solution soon.
The climate is changing. We’re removing entire mountains with practices that make our water undrinkable. We’re drilling for oil in fragile ecosystems, and the chances of seeing a reasonable energy policy from the government in our lifetimes are slim to none.
Is there anything that we can actually do to make a difference in a world full of bad news?
We cant’ afford to wait for someone else to fix these problems. We can actually make a difference by becoming a new kind of gardener.
A New Kind of Gardener
….we have left our land too retarded to take care of itself, much less to be of any help to us. This is not someone else’s problem. We — you and I and everyone who has a yard of any size — owns a big chunk of this country. Suburban development has wrought habitat destruction on a grand scale. As these tracts expand, they increasingly squeeze the remaining natural ecosystems, fragment them, and sever corridors by which plants and animals might refill the voids we have created. To reverse this process — to reconnect as many plant and animal species as we can to rebuild intelligent suburban ecosystems — requires a new kind of garden, new techniques of gardening, and, I emphasize, a new kind of gardener.
Sara Stein, Noah’s Garden: Restoring the ecology of our own back yards
The new kind of gardener will take responsibility for their own little piece of the planet and the consequences of her actions to ecosystems and wildlife around her. The new kind of gardener will learn to make healthier choices in her garden that will create welcoming habitat for wildlife.
Goals for the new kind of gardener (I call these the 5 Pillars of Ecosystem Gardening):
- Avoid the Plant Zoo mentality and know that a garden is an ecosystem, a community of plants that works together with wildlife
- Reduce lawn areas
- Stop using toxic chemicals
- Learn about the birds, butterflies, native bees, and other wildlife of their region and plan a garden to provide for all of their needs throughout the year.
Here’s some resources to help you do that:
- The Ultimate Guide to Attracting Native Bees to Your Garden
- The Ultimate Guide to Butterfly Gardening
- The Ultimate Guide to Birdscaping your Garden
The New Kind of Garden
The new kind of gardener will make it a priority to learn to share their space with wildlife whose habitat has been destroyed by old gardening practices and other human actions.
The new kind of garden:
- Why native plants matter so much
- Provides the 4 Essential Elements for Wildlife
- Includes many host plants for butterfly caterpillars
- Makes planting bird food a priority, moving beyond bird feeders
- Contains a full season of native nectar plants to support Monarchs and Other Butterflies and also native bees
It’s easy to assume that you can’t possibly make a difference for wildlife from your small share of the planet. But every positive choice you make in your garden can actually make a huge difference for the wildlife in your area. Your garden may be the last line of defense for many butterflies, native bees, birds, and other wildlife.
And when you help your neighbors make better decisions the benefit to wildlife is magnified. And so it spreads.
Are You a New Kind of Gardener?
Please share your story about creating a new kind of garden for wildlife. I can’t wait to hear your ideas.
Carole Sevilla Brown lives in Philadelphia, PA, and she travels the country speaking about Ecosystem Gardening for Wildlife. Check out her new free online course Ecosystem Gardening Essentials, 15 free lessons delivered to your inbox every week.
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