I first heard about the Green the Grounds movement on Garden Rant in a post by Susan Harris. The idea behind Green The Grounds is to “raise awareness about the vast number of changes that can be made at our country’s most prominent residences – the White House, governor’s mansion and even mayor’s homes – to make their grounds and gardens more sustainable”.
According to the official Green The Grounds website , “Green the Grounds.org is a public education campaign, a website, an informal coalition of people who believe in sustainable landscaping and in the ability of highly visible official residences to inspire homeowners to “green” their own yards and gardens.”
So, in order to do my part to raise awareness about sustainable gardening practices, and as a Stamford, CT resident I would like to turn my attention to the Connecticut Governor’s Residence. In the interest of full disclosure I must admit I have never been to the Governor’s Residence but I get the distinct feeling that the grounds are not a showcase feature of the property. The main reason is that if you google image “Connecticut Governor’s Residence” this is about the only photo that comes up and the ‘official website’ doesn’t even address the gardens at all.
According to the official website for the Governor’s Residence “This stately and gracious house has been home to Connecticut’s governors and their families since 1943. This virtual tour will give you a glimpse of the beauty contained within this nineteen room Georgian Revival Colonial. It welcomes you to come and experience the grandeur of this very special place, “the people’s house.” I hope you have the opportunity to visit Connecticut’s First House.” Now can you see why I assume the grounds are nothing spectacular?
Here are my suggestions for making the grounds of the Residence more sustainable:
- Plant a small kitchen garden that will feed the governor’s family. It doesn’t have to be anything large or intricate – maybe a 10′ x 5′ plot with some of their favorite veggies growing in it.
- Reduce the size of the lawn area at the Residence. Did you know that according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a traditional gas powered lawn mower produces as much air pollution as 43 new cars each being driven 12,000 miles?
- Speaking of the lawn, if it is not already being maintained with organic lawn care products now is the perfect time to make the change. For more information, check out the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Connecticut.
- Incorporate more native Connecticut plants into the gardens at the Residence. Natives are not only beneficial for our CT birds, butterflies, animals and insects, it’s easier and cheaper to maintain native plants than it is to maintain exotics. For more information about CT native plants, visit the Connecticut Botanical Society.
- Plant a rain garden on the grounds of the Residence to help with storm water run-off. There’s tons of information about rain gardens and pictures of the demonstration rain garden in Haddam, CT here. There’s even a “Rain Gardens in Connecticut” .pdf for homeowners on the website. Click here to download a copy.
- How about adding a few rain barrels to the Residence to capture rain water and then re-use it in the garden? In honor of Earth Day, the Bartlett Arboretum in Stamford is making is easy to purchase a rainbarrel and then pick it up in early June.
None of these suggestions are crazy, radical or difficult to implement. The governor should seize this opportunity to use the grounds and gardens of ‘Connecticut’s First House’ to educate and inspire all Connecticut residents to embrace simple steps to make their gardens greener and more sustainable.
I know there are many other easy steps the governor, or for that matter any gardener, can take to Green the Grounds. I’d love to hear your suggestions and tips for making gardens more sustainable.