On Garden Design and Conservation


“Our lifestyles have changed and our houses too, but the stuff beneath our feet has not.  We need to tread carefully for we are only caretakers of it for a very short period.”  _John Brookes, Garden Designer Have you noticed in garden books and magazines lately, how large sweeps of grasses are being featured?  This worries me.  Working as a volunteer in prairies and other ecosystems, I see exotic invasives moving in to former healthy habitats and forming monocultures.  This is devastating to the complex plant communities that evolved here over 10,000 years, and to the insects and animals that depend on them for food and shelter. I am also a gardener… so what is a rabid gardener to do?  May I suggest growing native plants?  In northeastern Illinois, for example, we have several native grasses that are far more beautiful than the miscanthes selections I see in catalogues.  Native plants are robust, well suited to your growing conditions, and so don’t need to be watered or fertilized.  Depending on where you live, there is plenty of room to express your creativity using the plants that evolved to live in your area. An important note is where to get these gems- please make sure you are buying them from a reputable nursery that grows the plants from their own stock, and not dug up from the wild.  The goal here is to help heal the earth, not strip it bare!  Please never take plants from the wild unless a bulldozer is poised over them. Happy gardening!

This lovely shrub gives structure to one of my beds, and will bring gorgeous fall color

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8 thoughts on “On Garden Design and Conservation

  1. Barbara Rodgers says:

    I’m with you on the growing native plants trend! Hopefully it’s not too late to turn things around. I’m often surprised to find out that so many of the plants that grow everywhere around here are not native at all, like Russian sage.

    • melissabluefineart says:

      I know what you mean- seems like every year another of my garden favorites turns up on the invasives list. The funny thing is, as the native plants that I have mature, the garden actually begins to feel different. It is as though even the air is more alive. Interesting…

  2. skippingstones says:

    I just came by to say hello! I’ve been wondering what you’ve been up to and I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing any posts. I’m subscribed, but I hadn’t seen anything on my email in a while. I hope you are well!

    • melissabluefineart says:

      Hi! Thanks for stopping by to say “hello” and the gentle nudge! I have some things I’ve been mulling over, so I’ll get busy and write tomorrow. If I’m not feeling sick and decide to stay in bed! hahaha! That was me, all over!

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