My goal is to create slices of local ecology where possible as opposed to vignettes of horticulure—color, form and textures. I’ll try to plant the vacant lots I own as meadows, or old succession fields, found in Niagara County, as woodlands discovered prior to human disturbance, all the while thinking of them as a living history museum, a natural resource history. No, the ecological gardens won’t be created by nature. They will have been formed by human hands, but aren’t all museums replicas of something lost or becoming lost, an alter to something or someone that existed long ago? That’s how I viewed the museums of Lucille Ball, in Jamestown, NY, and Thomas Wolfe, in Asheville, NC, both places I visited in the last six months.
What have I discovered about myself? Some will say I can’t compromise. I can. I choose not to when it comes to native species in the environments I own. I may not be able to persuade the politicians of the inherent worth of going native, but I can show the beauty in challenged neighborhoods by deliberate planting and I can nurture the vegetation and provide managed urban living—ideal conditions for wild life—species that live here year round and play host to those other summer tourists, the migrants. Maybe calling it an outdoor, uncaged zoo would generate more tolerance, more compassion?
I love the idea of color, form and texture in garden design, the artificially created world of seeing the outdoors like Monet as a living canvas painted with trees, shrubs, flowers and groundcovers. I appreciate the beauty of a lime green sweet potato vine sprawled underneath the muddy purple-pink snow of Forest Pansy red bud petals. I love how ornamental grass is backlit by sunset and sunrise. The colors and light interplay takes my breath. So, to indulge in aesthetic appreciation, I’ll plant large container gardens and I’ll place them where others can enjoy them. My back patio, my front porch and on Main Street, Niagara Falls where I own a building. When comments on their beauty are exchanged, maybe they’ll hear me when I tell them how little sustenance they provide for the local, non-migrating wildlife residents. Perhaps, I’ll even justify planting them. After all, don’t the colorful flock to exotic spaces for winter, the native locales of those growing in my containers?
- How to get started with native plants (mnn.com)