A Garden Journey to Sustainability and Habitat Enhancement for the Creatures that Call Your Garden Home
On Monday, November 18, 2019, Superintendent Timothy Lindsay gave an informative and thought provoking talk on re-wilding your garden.
Tim presented ideas to help make smart plant choices when planning a garden. He suggested plants be selected not just based on their aesthetic contribution to the garden, but also on how the plants in the garden contribute to sustaining our souls, the creatures that live in our gardens and our planet. He emphasized the importance of choosing climate appropriate plants. These obviously include native plants and plants that originated in other Mediterranean regions of the world. Since native insects and animals evolved to utilize native plants as a food source, many exotic plants, while beautiful, offer little or no food value or habitat for wildlife. One should therefore be motivated to choose native plants first to meet the design criteria of one’s garden and secondarily, plants from other Mediterranean regions. This scenario results in a win-win situation: a win for the designer and a win for the wild creatures that inhabit and need the garden to live.
In terms of sustainability, Tim suggested we examine the equation of “inputs” and “exports” associated with building and maintaining a garden. “Inputs” include material used to build and maintain a garden, such as sourcing local quarried paving stone, locally made garden ornaments, locally grown plants, and using organic fertilizers instead of inorganic fertilizers that require fossil fuel to produce. Tim recommended we choose local sources instead of imported garden elements from faraway places which results in expanding the “carbon footprint” required to install the garden. The “export” side of the equation includes the material exported from the garden to the landfill or rainwater directed to the street. Instead, rainwater can be captured for use later or be allowed to puddle and soak into the ground, thereby recharging our precious ground water. Common “exports” include tree trimmings, grass clippings, plastic bender board, and plastic plant containers. Ideally, the exports of the garden should be less than the imports. This will make your garden sustainable and ultimately have a positive impact on the health of the planet.
Tim’s 90 minute program used Robinson Gardens as an outdoor laboratory for lecture participants to study and become familiar with the intricacies of gardening in a method that is “sustainable.” This sustainability contributes to the overall health of our planet and the natural environment that we all share with other creatures.