Thursday, January 14, 2010

Time to see your Garden from a new Perspective

Creating a garden design is all about perspective. The owner's, designers, neighborhood's, friend's, spouse's, and maybe even your conscience's perspective. But how many people really take into account Nature's perspective?


Looking up into the canopy from the bathroom skylight

There are many planes to view when deciding what a garden should look like and how it should function. It's part of human nature that we're very used to looking at what is in front of us, what we are used to, and what current trends and products tell us we need. But what if we stepped back, and looked at garden design from a new perspective, that of designing our gardens with nature's needs and gifts in mind. What would we do different? What would we gain in return?


Deer are welcome in parts of the ecosystem garden


These lady bugs are found in their native habitat on the top of Mount Herman


This hawk nests every year in the same tree at the bottom of our property

Gardening for nature takes into account what nature already gives us to help us create a habitat that's easy to take care, and gives back to the earth. One of the easiest ways to start is by observing your environment. This doesn't mean taking a quick stroll through the back yard, and then jumping into designing a garden. It means really observing what goes on in nature, even if you live in the middle of the city. Once you see how things in nature interact with each other, you can design your gardens or landscapes to do the same thing.


Fruits are eaten by the birds each fall and winter


Crabapple trees are pollinated each spring

Let's take the example of designing a new garden that lays in part shade. We could just get a book, look at some planting plans, and modify them to fit our space. It would probably turn out very pretty, but not do much to help nature, or even make the best use of the environment at hand. If we instead looked up at the canopy and watched what happened there we would probably be able to create a habitat. We would choose plants that feed the birds, attract the right kind of insects, make use of the mulch that fell from the trees, and co-exist with the amount of moisture found in that area. Our plants would grow better and the insects and wildlife would be happy since we wouldn't need lots of fertilizers, pesticides, or extra water to coax along the garden.






All three of these ecosystems are significantly different, so design accordingly

Designing a nature-centric garden creates something very individualized, since it interacts and reflects what is going on in your ecosystem.  If done correctly, it doesn't follow fads, but aims for sustainability.  It rewards you with sights and sounds of birds, butterflies, bees, and other pollinators.  Doesn't that sound nice to you?

14 comments:

  1. Very wonderful post and great pictures. I like the perspective of gardening for nature very much.

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  2. Yes, absolutely it sounds nice! Really, I couldn't imagine gardening without thinking about nature. Borrowed views, food for wildlife. I like to go out into nature and see how she sets up her plants. It's always a nice model to follow.

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  3. This is a wonderful way for all of us to look at our gardens and to take into account when we design or re-design our current gardens. Another great benefit would be that the garden probably would require much lower maintenance as well.

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  4. Very well said with words and photographs! You can tell when a garden is happy and healthy - it is filled with the sounds and sights of living creatures. Creating a place that is good for nature will bring joy to us as well.

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  5. Thanks everyone for the comments. If you would like to see another blog that is all on Ecosystem Gardening, please check out Carole Brown's superb website: http://www.conservationgardening.com/ She has so much great information and will make you a believer for sure.

    Kathy

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  6. Kathy,
    We have hawks here in our valley as well, although I have not had the opportunity to get great shots of them.
    Your blog always hits home with me. Love it!

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  7. Without birdsong, it is not a garden. Nature's or mine.

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  8. Kathy, this looks awesome! And thanks for the plug. I so enjoy your photos of the natural world around your garden. Being an East Coaster it's hard to imagine the mountainous views you see every day. For me, the whole reason I garden is to "give a little back" to wildlife. We've taken so much away.

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  9. Thank you for the great reminder to look up before digging down. I was just thinking the same thing as I plan how to merge our gardens into one large habitat/eco-system garden. People and nature thriving in the same place is a beautiful thing!

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  10. Hi Kathy, thanks for these words of wisdom. While you might be preaching to the choir for some of us, others so need to hear this message. It would make life easier and better for the typical homeowner. I can't imagine gardening at such an elevation! Well done! :-)
    Frances

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  11. It sounds just right to me Kathy! Great post!! Love all of the examples and your text is clear and inspiring. Beautiful photos! Sustainability Yes! ;-)

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  12. Wonderful post..well said! I agree..articles like this can truly help shift others..keep creating! It is wonderful when people take into account the space as a whole..and all the living creatures in it..and what is most nature-enhancing and life-enhancing and enviromentally enhancing etc.. for that space as a whole to thrive..excel.. become and evolve! Excellent post!Loved it!You are awesome!!
    Kiki~

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  13. What an ispiring post! And I love the photos also. This has really widened my perspective on gardening. Can't wait to show it to my husband.
    Kudos & thanks!
    ~Annica

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  14. Kathy,
    What a beautiful and inspiring post. I so look forward to making my habitat garden come spring. Your images make me miss Colorado, as I lived there for about 7 years. Lucky you to enjoy such beautiful surroundings. :)

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