Making Friends with the Hummingbirds

Fall is a great time to work on the guest list for next year’s garden party. Hummingbirds make some of the best guests of all, or to put it more accurately, we can make ourselves better guests of them by providing what they need around their homes, otherwise known as our yards. Our local Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are migratory, departing Virginia in September for Central America … Continue reading Making Friends with the Hummingbirds

Making scents of your yard

Fragrant flowers can add a whole extra dimension to gardening, and the flowers of native plants are no exception. The scents are there for the sake of the pollinators, but we can enjoy them as well. If you try putting your nose up to every flower you meet, you will have some interesting surprises. Modern day humans are good at identifying human-made smells such as … Continue reading Making scents of your yard

Native plant landscaping: Three factors for success

For anyone who wants to help the birds and butterflies but is not an experienced landscaper, a few design concepts can help make the difference between a random collection of native plants and a beautiful but manageable landscape that supports our local ecosystem. Three major considerations come into play. The first is the understanding that basic garden design principles apply to any garden, whether using … Continue reading Native plant landscaping: Three factors for success

Stay-at-Homeschooling for Grown-Ups

We have all heard of naturalists such as Charles Darwin and James Audubon who undertook long and fruitful journeys of discovery. But did you know that many naturalists made their famous discoveries in their own yards? For example, Jean-Henri Fabre spent decades at his home in France on a small plot of hard scrabble where he documented numerous observations of insect behavior that are still … Continue reading Stay-at-Homeschooling for Grown-Ups

Vegetable Gardening for Earth Renewal

Now is the time to renew the Earth – and yourself, while you are at it! Most of us are aware of the benefits to ourselves of eating chemical-free vegetables, and to the environment of growing our own food and thus reducing our use of plastic and our share of the impact of shipping and refrigeration. What we may not realize is that home vegetable … Continue reading Vegetable Gardening for Earth Renewal

Gardening for Earth Renewal

How does your garden renew the earth? Vegetable gardens, flower gardens, conventional landscaping and even container gardens can all contribute to a connected landscape that supports our local birds and butterflies. By restoring native plants, together we can heal the damaged landscape we have created with our buildings, sterile lawn, and green-but ecologically-useless plants from other continents. The wildlife of Virginia evolved in concert with … Continue reading Gardening for Earth Renewal

Native plants in public spaces

Shopping center parking lots and other public spaces can be tree-lined havens from the summer heat, with beautiful blossoms to induce people to linger. Imagine yourself resting on a shaded bench, listening to the birds as you enjoy watching the people stroll by.  Do the commercial spaces in your town look like this, or do you find yourself hurrying from car to building to get … Continue reading Native plants in public spaces

Using native plants to deal with drought (and deluges)

Neither droughts nor deluges are new to Northern Virginia, but as everyone has noticed, weather extremes are becoming more common. The prolonged drought this year that followed a wet 2018 was particularly hard on plants, as roots that have been weakened by too much water and accompanying fungi are more vulnerable the following year. When choosing which species to plant, we need to keep in … Continue reading Using native plants to deal with drought (and deluges)