One of my favorite parts of writing this blog is having the opportunity to introduce you to ‘garden worthy’ plants and products you may not have heard of but that I feel will enhance your enjoyment of your garden . … Continue reading
I’m so excited to have a guest blogger today – Michelle Rebecca from the blog, SocialweLove. Michelle is an aspiring writer with a passion for blogging. She enjoys writing about a vast variety of topics and loves that blogging gives her … Continue reading
Several months ago, I wrote a post about an impulse buy I’d made a local plant wholesaler – a sedum tile that was grown to be used as part of a green roof installation. At the time, I really had … Continue reading
Autumn is one of my favorite seasons in my garden. The cooler temperatures bring the vibrant reds, yellows, oranges and purples that unmistakably signal the end of yet another growing season. But, I have to confess, I didn’t always enjoy fall … Continue reading
Here’s a free giveaway that’s too good not to share…
He is giving away a free custom illustration of your favorite plant! Yes, for free!
Before you head over to The Rainforest Garden to enter the contest, don’t forget to tell me what you’d have him draw if you win.
I’m thinking I’d like an illustration of some rainbow swiss chard. Or maybe a viburnum with its colorful berries? Or the delicate white flowers of fringetree?
Ah, the possibilities…
Here in Connecticut, and for gardeners throughout the United States, there is a real concern over Lyme disease. Our passion for gardening puts us into direct contact with blacklegged ticks, those tiny little specs that are capable of infecting us with Lyme disease.
No matter how vigilant we are, and how many precautions we take, the risk of exposure is still there. And as it turns out, much of the information we know about Lyme disease and how to reduce our exposure to it, may actually be folk tales full of well-meaning but incorrect information.
New research by Dr. Richard Ostfeld and his team at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies into the complex interactions that are contributing to the escalating cases of Lyme disease both here in Connecticut and elsewhere sheds new light on how you may be able to actually reduce your risk of exposure to Lyme disease in your own garden.
To find out how acorns, white-footed mice and opossums play a role in Lyme disease, I invite you to read my post, The Link Between Lyme Disease and Biodiversity over at Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens.
It’s Valentine’s Day, that one day of the year that we’re told we must express our undying love for another with some over-the-top and often over-priced gesture. Or be viewed as a total failure by, well, the entire greeting card and floral industry for a start.
For me, Valentine’s Day ranks up there on the list of forced holidays just below New Year’s Eve. I kind of hate doing something just because I’m told to. I think it dates back to all those years spent in catholic school, but that’s fodder for a completely different blog post!
A Valentine’s Day Treat
So when I was invited by Evelyn Hadden, author of the soon-to-be-released book, Beautiful No-Mow Yards, and one of the founders of the Lawn Reform Coalition, to join a Valentine’s Day blog tour to celebrate the publication of Beautiful No-Mow Yards, I jumped at the opportunity to help raise awareness of the many alternatives to a I’ll-grow-this-because-everyone else-does lawn, especially for gardeners here in Connecticut, where the lawn alternative trend is just gaining steam.
Having a big lawn is like staying in a doomed relationship just so someone sends you roses on Valentine’s Day. You might feel good for a little while, but deep down, you know you can do better.
It’s easy to breakup with your lawn. Here are five simple ideas to get you started.
Here in New England, many of us have soil that is naturally very acidic, a condition traditional lawn grass does not like.
Instead of fighting the soil and adding all sorts of amendments to try to neutralize all that acid, embrace it.
In shady spots, moss will begin to take over and in no time you can have a serene, tranquil moss-covered garden, like this…
Spread the Love
Too often, when we think about covering an unused portion of our property, especially an area that fronts the road, we automatically think lawn.
For those of us who live in snow country, where road salt and mounds of snow from passing plows can pile up for months at a time, it can be difficult to find a lawn alternative that is a true road warrior.
A colorful lawn alternative for a tough site is leadwort (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides). Admittedly not the most compelling of common names, leadwort is a tough as nails spreading ground cover that is drought tolerant, thrives in full sun – partial shade and is deer resistant, a big plus for gardeners battling deer. And just look how lovely it looks with the stone wall as a backdrop…
Make It About You
Instead of a wide expanse of lawn, why not create a quiet, cozy place in your garden where you can get away from it all and enjoy some me time.
An out-of-the-way corner is an ideal place to showcase a collection of plants, like these hosta. Add a place to sit & relax, grab a good book (perhaps Beautiful No-Mow Yards) and you’re all set.
Hammock for two, anyone?
Throw a Party
There are lots of great reasons to just break up with your lawn, but one of the best ones is to make more room for wildlife habitat in your garden.
Creating even a small bed or border filled with plants native to your area will put out the welcome mat for butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.
You’ll be amazed at how quickly these pollinators, and lots of other ‘good bugs’, will be having a party in your garden. Don’t forget to include some regionally appropriate larval host plants, like these bright orange milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa), which are perfect for New England gardens.
What happens when you and your valentine don’t exactly see eye-to-eye on the need for a lawn alternative? I’d suggest getting sneaky — it’s worked for me for years!
Probably the easiest, and least conspicuous way to reduce the amount of lawn in your garden is to widen all your existing beds and borders. Making them even a few feet wider can update your landscape almost instantly since many older homes have very narrow foundation beds. That extra 2 or 3 feet gives you more room for another layer of plants, perhaps a flowering native ground cover.
And when you’re installing a new pathway or walkway think w-i-d-e. Conventional garden design wisdom suggests that primary walkways, like the one leading to your front door, be about 5′ wide. You can easily add another foot or two, giving your guests ample room to walk side by side and you’ll be reducing your lawn.
Better yet, widen your borders and add a pathway right next to them so you can stroll through your garden admiring your handiwork.
More Beautiful No-Mow Yards
Eveyln’s book, Beautiful No-Mow Yards, will be hitting book shelves any day now.
It’s packed full of inspiring photos and easy to implement advice on how to get rid of some, or all, of your lawn.
With ideas for shade gardens, rain gardens, edible gardens and even natural play spaces for your kids, there something to inspire every gardener to break up with their lawn, regardless of where you live.
If you simply can’t wait to get your own copy of Beautiful No-Mow Yards, check out this video trailer Evelyn created to offer some inspiration right now.
More Anti-Valentine’s Day, You-Can-Do-Better-Than-A -Lawn Ideas
This post is one of a group of Valentine’s Day Tributes to Lawn Alternatives by different garden writers. I invite you to explore the topic of lawn alternatives further:
♥ Landscapes That Love Us Back by Evelyn Hadden of Lawn Reform Coalition
♥ A Love Letter to Wildlife by Carole Sevilla Brown of Ecosystem Gardening
♥ An Anti-Valentine to the Lawn by Susan Harris of Garden Rant
♥ Dear Lawn, I’m Breaking Up With You by Heather Holm of Restoring the Landscape With Native Plants
♥ Book Review: Beautiful No-Mow Yards by Susan Morrison of Blue Plant Garden
♥ Love Letters to Lawns by Saxon Holt of Gardening Gone Wild
♥ Valentine’s Day: A Round-Up on the Timber Press blog
A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. ~ Margaret Mead
A few days ago, I wrote a post about the baffling partnership between the National Wildlife Federation and Scotts Miracle-Gro.
Well, it seems NWF has re-thought the judiciousness of the partnership. They just announced they are ending their partnership with Scotts Miracle-Gro.
NWF is stating that Scott’s “pending legal settlement related to events in 2008″ is the main reason for the rapid demise of the partnership. Certainly NWF wants as much distance as possible from a company that is paying $4.5 million to settle a lawsuit over selling birdseed that is toxic to birds.
But I’d like to think that all the negative backlash from stunned and dismayed NWF supporters — numerous blog posts, thousands of negative comments on the NWF Facebook page, and even an online petition to encourage NWF to break the partnership — had an even bigger effect. One by one, we all made a difference!
Because, come on, it’s hard to believe NWF didn’t already know about a pending lawsuit from 2008. Who’s doing your due diligence over there?
The National Wildlife Federation has lots of work to do to rehabilitate their reputation as an organization whose mission it is to “inspire Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future” and as an organization that is worthy of your donations.
But in the meantime, if you’re serious about helping wildlife and not sure where to turn, I’d like to suggest looking for local organizations that need your support. They need your support, both money and time,too.
Undoubtedly, one of the biggest mysteries in the garden world this week is why on earth did the National Wildlife Federation get into bed with Scotts Miracle-Gro?
On the surface, it looks like a harmless partnership. According to the press release, “the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and ScottsMiracle-Gro are announcing a new partnership to advance NWF’s nationwide Be Out There initiative to connect children with nature”. Sounds almost innocent, doesn’t it?
Ah, but dig a deeper, you know…through the Round-Up, dead insects and all the lawn chemicals (you’re wearing gloves, right?), and you’ll see this is one partnership that doesn’t quite add up.
Exhibit A – National Wildlife Federation
If ever there was a warm & fuzzy organization, NWF was it. Pictures of mischievous polar bears, salmon-snatching grizzly bears and graceful songbirds come to mind.
Many people, myself included, thought of NWF as a trusted resource that was, according to their own website,working to “ inspire Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future. We work to restore the health of our natural habitats and ecosystems.”
Here are two NWF initiatives you’ve probably heard of, which now seem tainted, and would be almost comical when viewed though this new chemical-coated lens, if the stakes weren’t so desperately high.
♦ Certified Wildlife Habitat program where NWF has shown people the “benefits of gardening for wildlife”. Unless things have changed since my garden was certified, the use of chemicals, including those that NWF’s new ‘partner’ sells is prohibited.
♦ The Green Hour where NWF recommends parents give their kids a “Green Hour” every day, in a garden, a backyard, the park down the street, or any place that provides safe and accessible green spaces where children can learn and play. As a parent, I know way I define a safe play environment is one where the grass my kids run through and roll around on is chemical-free.
Exhibit 2 – Scotts Miracle-Gro
Here’s a company who’s ‘cash cow’ product lines are diametrically opposed to NWF’s corporate philosophy.
♦ ScottsMiracle-Gro is Monsanto’s exclusive agent for the marketing and distribution of Roundup. If you’re unfamiliar with the toxic effects of Roundup, read Round-Up is killing us.
♦ With their annual ‘steps’ lawn care program, Scotts has indoctrinated an entire generation of homeowners into thinking they NEED to treat their lawns with chemicals. Here’s a list of 10 Reasons to Ditch Your Lawn and Garden Chemicals.
♦ It’s working hard to bring GMO seeds right to your front lawn with it’s Roundup ready grass seeds.
Other Voices Raising Concerns
By no means am I the only blogger concerned about this partnership.
Here are links to posts on other blogs you may find interesting and enlightening. I suggest you check out the comments sections while you’re there. There are some interesting comments from employees of Scotts MiracleGro and NWF and the corporate line is fairly consistent across the board. In some cases, it appears the comments have been cut & pasted from blog to blog.
Baffled? Bewildered? Befuddled?
Well, join the growing crowd. If you’d like to voice your opinion, there are lots of options for getting involved.
First off, I’d suggest listening to Carole Sevilla Brown’s interview over at Beautiful Wildlife Gardens – David Mizejewski Defends National Wildlife Federation Partnership with Scotts Miracle Gro. David is the spokesperson for the National Wildlife Federation about this partnehsip with Scotts Miracle-Gro.
♦ Go to NWF’s facebook page (make sure you click the tab that says “Everyone” under the photo bar) and leave a comment. If you don’t want to start a new thread, feel free to comment on or ‘ like’ an existing comment.
♦ If you’re on Twitter, tweet your message to NWF. Just include @NWF in your message.
♦ Call NWF’s headquarters at 1-800-822-9919 . They are open M-F 8 a.m to 8 p.m. EST. (Note: I just called and the outgoing message says you can use option #1 to make a donation – who are they kidding??)
♦ Leave a comment on NWF’s website
♦ Join the discussion this afternoon (January 25). NWF’s president is hosting a video chat to answer people’s concerns about the partnership . Email your questions to him at email@example.com.
Come on National Wildlife Federation, what’s next? It seems like this partnership with Scotts MiracleGro is the first step down a very slippery slope.
Should we expect to see bottles of Round-Up with the NWF logo and pictures of cute little birds on it? Or maybe Scott’s infamous ‘step program’ for lawn care gets expanded and the new bag has the NWF logo and the tag line…kills beneficial insects, too’.
Next time you’re thinking about partnering with a new sponsor, just ask yourself — WWRRD — What Would Ranger Rick Do?