We’ve all had one of
jobs. One of those same-thing-every-day-carpal-tunnel-for- the-soul kind of jobs. You've probably endured through weeks and months that left your brain throbbing like George Jetson’s finger after a hard day of button pushing. In fact any monotonous, dull, or unvaried interaction we have with the world around us leaves us feeling drained. How would your body feel if it had to eat the same food every day? What if you had to hear the same song every time you wanted to listen to music? Life would quickly begin to get a bit humdrum if all your choices could be counted on one finger. That draining sensation that accompanies a lack of variety in our lives is ultimately unhealthy because our bodies, minds, and spirits are biologically required to draw inspiration from a multitude of the earth’s gifts. Man can not live on bread alone, Right? ...In this way the life that is created on earth is born interdependent with a wide variety of the creatures already here. Yep, you know what I’m talking about here, the whole “web of life” idea. It’s not just a cute Disney movie theme. Actually it’s the way life works on this planet to create a healthy vibrant ecosystem, an ecosystem that is capable of covering this planet with teeming life from the driest desert to the depths of the ocean.
So if all the space from the hot Sahara to the bottom of the Pacific is practically frolicking with a smorgasbord of life, why shouldn’t we enjoy that same luxurious richness in our own space at home?
Variation On A Theme
When you look out the window onto the yard how much variety do you see? Is your yard practically a mini-wild life park? Do you see an array of beautiful plants supporting the birds, bugs, and animals that want to call your yard home? Well why not? Luckily, there are a few easy ways to add a little delightful diversity to your outdoor display.
Get Down With Your Dirt
Compost my friends is not just a good idea, it’s the law (of nature). Compost is the natural process by which the earth turns garbage into gold. Nothing is wasted in a perfect system, and nature knows this best. When the leaves fall from the trees the forest doesn’t wish for rakers and baggers to come clean it up. The forest frolics in this mess as insects, and bacteria turn yesterday’s crop into tomorrow’s meal. As above, so it is below. If the ground beneath us is full of life, then the earth above will be as well. Start your own compost pile and let the magic begin!
Get Off The Grass
Sorry, but the green grass lawn is a thing of the past! What could be more boring then only using one type of plant to cover a large swath of land. Can anyone say mono-cropping? Farmers around the world are learning quickly that growing any one type of plant repeatedly to the exclusion of other plants is a big drain on soil health. Why repeat this horrible experiment at home. Sod has short roots, which make it an ineffective ground cover as most of the water that falls on it is drained away too fast to penetrate into the ground. Replace sod with hardy perennials, and while you’re at it add a little color to the landscape pallet. Look for perennials that bloom at different times of year. Fall color, edible value, and visual texture are three more distinctive features to search for while plant hunting. Get a head start on spring blooms by planting bulbs in the fall. Nothing sings spring like a tiny crocus or scilla flower pushing through the cold earth.
Bring Us a Shrubbery
This is not only the demand of the most intimidating Knights Who Say Nee, but this is also the humble request of our avian allies. Birds love to find a yard with a variety of trees and shrubs. Many woody plants will produce an abundance of small fruits or nuts that will provide sustenance for winged visitors. Nothing can start a birdy party like a crabapple who’s apple stems are strong enough to keep it’s fruit on the tree through much of the winter. The freeze / thaw cycles that occur break the sugars in the crabapples down into alcohol by spring time when the birds visit and drink their little hearts content with as much free cider ale as their beaks can sip! Yes, I’m advocating for letting the birds get drunk, live and let fly! Choose trees and shrubs in a range of heights so the birds have several layers of canopy to hide in. Native trees such as the butternut, and white pine can create an attractive top layer of canopy in your yard. This top layer when under planted with shrubs such as grey dogwood, fragrant sumac, or bush honeysuckle will form an unbroken habitat from the ground to the sky.