I challenge everyone to sit in your yard and look, listen, and experience the sounds, scents, and sights of nature in our landscape. Relax and meditate in the natural world, leave your phone and laptop inside and let your busy day melt away into the woods. Sit and observe for at least five minutes or more. Take note which plants are attracting the most insects, pollinators, hummingbirds, or butterflies. (The Butterfly Bush does not count, it is an invasive native of China. But Butterfly Weed does count.) Do the plants in our garden need a little more care? Is the landscape desperately in need of a good weeding or cultivating to allow the natives to flourish?
What was in bloom earlier this spring in our garden? What is in bloom right now, and what can we look forward to this month? Is there nothing in bloom? Maybe you cannot see any wildlife or insects in your garden. If you do not see plants teeming with wildlife, your landscape could be suffering from sterility due to overuse of exotic plants and of restricted pesticides. Maybe your garden is overrun with invasives, which do not attract or support beneficial native insects. These healthier garden practices benefit us and the wildlife that call our yards home. The back yard environment and native wildlife depends on our smart choices to survive and thrive.
This spring, we have been blessed with pleasantly cool weather which means get out there and enjoy the garden. Native plants, when planted in the environment where they grow naturally, are the easiest plants to maintain in the landscape. Natives require little if any water, fertilizer, or pesticides because these plants have evolved in our local environment with the animals and insects residing here. Once a native plant garden has established itself, a balance is maintained where, yes, some of our leaves may be damaged by a caterpillar munching on your spice bush, but that caterpillar becomes food for a native bird and the same bird may be fooled by the spice bush caterpillar’s snake like camouflage and the caterpillar survives because of its camouflage. The insect continues its life cycle and metamorphoses turning into a swallowtail butterfly right before our eyes in our backyard landscape.
We are the most important influential stewards of the earth. We are stewards of our new native landscape and the wildlife it attracts. We must plant a sanctuary for critters that are attracted to our native plant landscape.
Responsible, environmentally friendly garden centers, like Native Landscapes in Pawling, carry a whole line of environmentally friendly products that are healthy for our backyard critters and us.
As Gandhi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Make the right choices this season and plant more native plants, get outside, get down and dirty on your knees and tend to your tasks. The garden is calling and it needs your help. I’m ready, are you? Don’t forget to check out our facebook page for upcoming events and interesting talks at the Center. Go Native!
Adam Muroski, Cassandra Kessman, and Peter Muroski