It’s spring, and I’ve been on the road giving talks and workshops about gardening as a way to restore the earth and our connection to this glorious blue planet.
Last week’s talk was in Fort Collins, Colorado, with passionate plantswoman and naturalistic garden designer Lauren Springer Ogden. We spoke to an audience of over 200 people as part of a City of Fort Collins Utilities series, me on designing for habitat and a healthy home landscape, and Lauren on her favorite plants for pollinators and wildlife.
It was the third talk I’ve given this spring on restoration gardening, and each time, the crowd has been larger than I expected and eager for knowledge about how to garden in ways that can heal this battered earth, and restore our relationship with nature.
I think we hunger for reconnection, for something positive we can do that gives back to the planet that gives us so much–air, water, food, the basic materials of our lives, plus beauty, awe and wonder. Habitat gardening is one powerful way to give back, providing homes and food for the “little guys” who help preserve healthy ecosystems–pollinators and songbirds–and also providing us with the delight of seeing those lives on a daily basis.
Which is why I spend the time and energy to travel and teach, even when I’d rather stay home and work on my own landscape.
I made it home Thursday evening, and then spent Friday getting started on the next presentation–my keynote at the Chaffee County Home & Garden Show next Saturday. This weekend I finally had time for my own earth work, nurturing my reclaimed former industrial yard and the adjacent block of urban creek.
Which, by the way, is running again. I hear its murmuring voice from my front deck, a lovely sound after four weeks of unusually hot and dry weather.
Yesterday I wore myself out laying the first part of my future outdoor dining patio in a flat spot on the slope between my two buildings where the two-story garage/studio casts shade on spring and summer evenings.
I had already spent time loosening the construction-compacted ground with a mattock, hauling out rocks and sifting the gravel-sized fragments from the sand, and leveling the area. My friends Tony and Maggie had helped me carry and roughly set the first flagstone.
As I worked yesterday, I heard Richard’s voice in my mind. He taught me how to design and build a flagstone patio; a project that was his final sculpture, his last chance to get his hands on the rocks he so loved.
Today I was too sore to pick up either mattock or flagstone, so I planted the heirloom tomato seedlings I grew indoors (thanks to Renee’s Seeds), nestling them carefully in the soil of the big stock tank on my side deck. I’m sure it’s a bit of a shock to be outside in the bright sun and moving air after a comfy childhood indoors, but they’ll adapt, and their walls-o-water will keep them cozy as they do.
I also spent time hand-watering my rock garden to compensate for the spring snows that didn’t come, and admiring the spots of color from the spreading phlox, species tulips, daffodils, and native golden-smoke, all of which little sweat bees and other native pollinators are eagerly attending to.
I purely love this life, drought or no, and I am honored to be part of the movement to restore nature in our yards and gardens. It’s a powerful way for us to express our gratitude to this amazing planet–our nurturing orb and the only home our species has ever known.