You know the saying: “think globally, act locally”. Honoring the earth can be as simple as being greener in your garden.
As gardeners we get to celebrate Earth Day all year. As Master Gardeners and educators we are fortunate to have opportunities to multiply that appreciation.
I came across an article by Jennifer Davit (Director of the Lurie Garden in Chicago’s Millennium Park) on Celebrating Earth Day by Sharing Gardening Tips in the Chicago Sun Tribune. Her six suggestions are as applicable for Goodhue County as they are to Millennium Park in downtown Chicago:
Replace annuals with perennials. There are many beautiful perennials that are native to the bluffs and hardwood forests of Goodhue County that can be integrated into gardens and require little water and no fertilizer.
Don’t overfertilize. Perennials in our garden are chosen for their durability and successful growth over time. They typically don’t need supplemental nutrients through conventional fertilizers — some will actually perform poorer if they are fertilized, especially with liquid formulations. Only fertilize if the plant is showing signs of nutrient deficiencies.
Think beyond color: When choosing perennial plants and grasses, consider textures, movement, sound and scents. For example, the combinations of prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis) and Eastern bee balm (Monarda bradburiana) provide excellent textural diversity throughout the year.
Attract wildlife. Choose plants, such as calamint, salvias and native milkweeds that provide nectar and pollen to attract and feed wildlife. Many beautiful gardens from Millennium Park in Chicago IL to our own Discovery Garden in Red Wing MN do not use chemicals and create habitat for all to enjoy.
Say no to insecticides. By tolerating a little plant damage, you will help welcome a healthy insect population to your garden. You’ll be amazed at the number of dragonflies that come to eat your mosquitoes, the number of bees that will collect pollen and nectar from your plants, and the variety of butterflies that will make your garden their home.
Don’t forget winter: Instead of cutting back perennials in fall, leave them up through winter and cut them back in late winter, before early spring bulbs start to grow. This will enable you to enjoy your garden despite the cold and provide a home for wildlife year-round.
We can do that!
I am sure Karen would add a seventh bullet promoting no till gardening to reduce weeds and protect soil. We can do that too!