Friday, June 17, 2005

Gardening Mindfully

I've only read one chapter so far of Sara Stein's book "Noah's Garden", but already I love it. I've always had an amnesty policy in most of my gardens, whereby traditional garden perennials co-exist with regional wildflowers. I mean, after all, they're already happily growing there, and its the old wildflowers that so many of today's timid modern hybrids come from. Any plant who's willing to grow in a particular area, and offer some blooms to make me smile, is most welcome.

Ms. Stein speaks of native Americans traditions of burning a clearing in a wooded area, for use as a planting area. But after the planting season, that area would be left fallow, where the process of forest succession would begin, thereby transforming the clearing into a hunting ground, as the succeeding habit welcomed all kinds of wildlife.

It sort of reminds me of this large field on the edge of the woods where I'm building my garden. There was a garden there once long ago, and some of the focal points of my "new" garden are the roses, foxglove, irises and peonies...and so many other things, that have survived from that garden, despite the years of succession in between. Of course, my efforts are resulting mostly in something pretty, although interspersed with the flowers I'm including an assortment of herbs and vegetables.

Toward that end, this morning, I dug out a nice large area which I'll clean up and plant as the weekend goes on, with a traditional Three Sisters garden: corn, pole beans and squash. Working together, these three plants support one another with the tiny ecosystem they create. The squash (and pumpkins) shade the soil below, inhibiting weed growth, the corn provides support for the beans to grow, and the beans fix nitrogen in the soil for the other two. It's a tidy little arrangement that I've always admired...and it's kind of exciting to realize I finally have the right location (plenty of sun) for it to work.

Hopefully, it's presence will help remind me to do all I can to co-exist, not master, the beautiful natural environment that provides the backdrop for my efforts. Maybe along the way I can find the native plants the red beetles prefer to my lilies, and I can cancel the carnage.

Now all I have to do is face the fashion issues involved in what scarecrows are wearing in these modern times.

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