Re-Imagining the Home Landscape

I am not one for resolutions, but do admire those who take stock of the past year and set new defined goals. I do find I have a similar urge to reflect and plan as we head into the year 2020 and for me that of course includes personal/family plans but also how I can make changes to support the environment in this era of climate change. As I sit to write this post on a bright winter morning, we’ve experienced yet another extraordinarily warm holiday season in southern Ontario. I know there will be bitter cold days ahead soon, but I long for them. I long for the snow cover. That type of weather to me is ‘normal’ and an indication that annual cycles on this planet are progressing as expected.

I have been so moved by the responses of many people to the impact of climate change; from the hard work of our conservation authorities in Ontario, to individuals who volunteer their time to take action. Of course, Greta Thunberg and her movement #FridaysForFuture stood out to me. (I encourage you to watch her interview with Amy Goodman from NPR HERE; her truths speaks volumes). Whatever opinions you may have about how this young Swedish teen has taken action, I do hope that most people are realizing that Climate Change is real and supported by all credible scientists and scientific organizations throughout the world (See Canadian Climate Scientist, Dr. Katherine Hayhoe explanation of why 2 degrees matters in the video attached below).

Some may feel discouraged and helpless by the changes caused through climate change and the situation we find ourselves in. I confess at times I’m frustrated by seemingly small issues (ie. packaging at the grocery store) to the lack of birds seen or heard while hiking. The good news is, that some solutions to climate change are in every gardener’s hands. As stewards and guardians of the land in our care, we can make positive changes with real impact. (Read the Post from Peterborough Master Gardener, Suzanne Seryck, Master Gardener HERE)

Beginning with pollinator gardens about 6 years ago, my husband and I began to steadily replace our turf, section by section, adding host plants for butterflies and native plants that provide refuge or are sources of nectar. Our landscape has old logs, last year’s leaves and also a rain garden. My husband uses a reel mower to keep the city boulevard in check (Perhaps in the years ahead we’ll tackle that turf). We no longer provide water to established plants, don’t fertilize or use any pesticides or herbicides. I realize this type of landscape is not for everybody but there are aspects of it that can be integrated into anyone’s home landscape.

Here are some key actions you can take.

Choose one to focus on at a time, beginning gradually. I’ve provided links in each point for background information or practical suggestions.

  • Leave a section of your lawn un-mown (see photos below) or mow less frequently – call it a meadow, weed out aggressive plants and add a sign!
  • Transform sections of your front or back lawn to growing food (see photo above).
Leaf-Cutter Bee – They use the leaves to line their nests

AND MOST IMPORTANT: Talk to others and tell them why you’re making changes to your gardens and garden practices. I’m sure there are many other ideas to support the environment in our landscapes. Let’s keep the discussion going.

Gardeners can lead the change we need to see in our world.

Janet Mackey, Halton Master Gardeners

Further reading on this and related topics:

Photo Credits:

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