December is a month that gardeners generally sit and watch amaryllis or paper white bulbs grow, or they dwell in anguished anticipation of the first seed catalog. Or they read. I’m in that last group and recently finished The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World by German forester/ecologist/author Peter Wohlleben.
I was concerned that Wohlleben’s book might be as fanciful and generally ridiculous as Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird’s The Secret Life of Plants (1973) in which in spurious “tests” plants were shown to prefer classical music and register pain in the presence of a broken egg. more
The lead article under the Soil and Water tab is from the Leopold Center (named for famous ecologist Aldo Leopold). It is an excellent discussion of the NEWEST research on soil health, beneficial bacteria and the importance of microbes in the soil It also quotes Sir Albert Howard who proved the value of composting and developed the "Law of Returns."
The Chickadee’s Guide to Gardening: In Your Garden. Choose plants that help the environment by Douglas W. Tallamy [New York Times, March 11, 2015 Oxford, Pa.] — I grew up thinking little of plants. I was interested in snakes and turtles, then insects and, eventually, birds. Now I like plants. But I still like the life they create even more. moreCathie's pick. This is a book I have been waiting for. It broadens our definition of garden. It empowers the gardener with new vision, understanding and vocabulary and places him smack in the center of the ecological dynamic to ponder the question: as gardeners do we only decorate or do we also understand and support the living layers of our gardens? more
insects, birds, animals and plants and even soil evolves very slowly. Alien-introduced (nonfood source) plants are capable of disrupting or removing crucial food sources for native species. As gardeners or, more broadly, custodians of the land, we need to place equal value on plant beauty and the plant's ability to provide food, pollen, nectar and fruit for birds, insects and wild animals, as well as ourselves. Individually, we need to know (more) about the consequences of what we are doing. more
Poems put into words our love of nature. For every plant enthusiast who has hiked with botanical intention through America’s forests and plains (John Bartram), scaled peaks or hung in jungle canopies to “collect” orchids and other treasures (Joseph Dalton Hooker), for every natural scientist who worked out the progeny of peas (Gregor Mendel) or rejoiced at the prospect of plant design (Luther Burbank), there is a poet among us chirping brightly about “clouds of daffodils” (William Wordsworth) or an ecologist with the eye of an artist and the heart of a poet (Aldo Leopold) stating in Sand County Almanac that, “A thing (decision, policy) is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” more
Luddites and gardeners. Although my non-Luddite relationship with the computer, television, cellphone and other mechanical bits and pieces is sometimes adversarial, I incorporate them into my life.
But the real wealth? A basket of fresh veggies, a bouquet of flowers for a friend, the rolling gurgle of a hen announcing a newly laid egg, the smell of fresh bread, a garden filled with insects and birds, a bucket of compost to spread on the garden. My feet are on the ground, my hands are in the soil, my head is filled with experience and knowledge — that’s the wealth. I strive to stay connected, grounded, aware. Read more . . .