While I Ruminate

There are several posts brewing in my brain. A couple focus on my experiences writing and my opinions on writing theory, one on my current theological study, my thoughts on the recent Tolkien Fanfiction film, and perhaps one on recent personal experiences.

None of them are ready for perusal, and so I plan to share a few random things and then bore you with my plant-nerd ravings. It is winter, here, and the coldest we have had in some time. In short, it is the time when gardeners dream.

But for those who are indifferent to plants, I will leave that until the end and offer you a few new links in my sidebar.

The humorous: From the makers of that Wolverine Music Video I posted, I give you Glove and Boots! If you need something light and silly, filled with puppets, and made for nerds (especially those spawned in the 80’s, like me), then you will want to spend some time watching.

Art: In the last post, I also linked a post about Joel Cooper’s Origami masks, but I failed to link his blog. It is filled with astounding!

For Writers: I’ve had the link to this rabbit-hole on my sidebar for a while, but one of my upcoming posts will focus on the subject of tropes and cliches, so it is worth pointing out. This is a very useful post for writers, storytellers, and story-lovers everywhere, but I warn you, it is highly addictive. Another useful link for writers and curious minds, a blog by someone in my own profession of Government Information Librarianship, is the Writer’s Guide to Government Information.

For Linguaphiles:  My fellow word geeks, I offer a link to the Online Etymology Dictionary and the Phrase Finder, which has more than just phrases.

For history and story-telling geeks, like me, there is a website (one among many) with collections of American folklore and stories. It is further broken down into sub-categories, and yes, it includes all of America, not just the United States of.

Do you like critters? What about photography? At work, I keep my desktop cycling through beautiful images, and I get a lot of them here, at the National Wildlife Foundation. A bit of plant nerdiness… If you like animals and want to help them survive the constant changes in our landscapes, consider turning your yard into a certified wildlife habitat. If that is too much for you to bite off, then you can still do little things, like keeping a clean bird-bath, adding some native plants (which do a better job of supporting wildlife than exotics) to your garden, or building a brush pile, which supplies both food and shelter for many.

Plant and story nerd combine: This is a book on the Folklore of Plants.  Fascinating stuff, at least to me.

Now I start talking about plants and gardening.

My interest in gardening (late to develop, even though my mother is a brilliant gardener) was born out of my fascination with my local ecology and the native plants it rests on. Thus my current obsession with the cooperative blogs Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens and Beautiful Wildlife Garden is no surprise.

This is what has me daydreaming.

You may or may not know that, apart from roofs and pavement, a lawn is one of the most barren areas created in our developments. It’s close-woven, often exotic, and is shorn to where it offers little food and no shelter to anything.

Basically, more lawn = fewer animals, arthropods, and birds. It’s a sad equation.

I’m not saying we should eliminate all lawns and cropped fields. I like playing on a lawn as much as the next girl, and my dog does, too. However, in the grand scheme of things, I don’t use much of my lawn, and that unused part could easily be turned into something prettier and more useful to critters.

So, this summer, I am going to start the process of eliminating my front lawn.

In order to prevent my neighbors from having a conniption, I have to keep things under some control. I am going to build a path and be very mindful of what I plant where. Both for beauty and wildlife-value, I need a succession of blooms. I want some things that look nice in winter, too. It’s easier on birds and bugs if I don’t cut down my plants for the winter, so things that look particularly messy are probably not the best choices.

I want mostly native plants, because my birds and beasts and bugs are adapted to them, but I have my favorite non-natives as well. Daffodils, cultivated iris, crocus, a peony and even a non-native morning-glory (there are native varieties).

I want to attract birds of various kinds, including hummingbirds (which, by the way, eat insects), and cedar waxwings. Also, I want to provide not only adult food, but larval food for various butterflies, moths and bees. I’m the sort of person who also loves spiders, snakes, lizards and other creepy-crawlies, so the more the better.

To this end, I have some things already planted. A southern wax myrtle, black-eyed susans, butterfly weed, false indigogoldenrod, Mistflower, and native honeysuckle among others.

My list of plants to acquire is long. I want more kinds of milkweed, for butterflies, yarrow, and most of all, yaupon hollies.

Hopefully, in a few years, I will have many more critters to see and enjoy in my yard, the good, the bad and the ugly. Then, I will turn my furious attention to my back yard, where I hope to install a small pond and a bat-box.

One more thing. If what I am talking about is all Greek to you, maybe this post will give you a little idea: Vivian’s Meadow.

I will now stop tormenting you with my musings. I hope you found something interesting in this post. Peace be yours!

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About jubilare

Just another tree in the proverbial forest. Look! I have leaves! View all posts by jubilare

16 responses to “While I Ruminate

  • Carole Sevilla Brown

    Hi jubilare,
    I’m so happy you’ve discovered my teams at Beautiful Wildlife Garden and also Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens. I’m so blessed to have so many gifted writers sharing their passion for using native plants to create welcoming habitat for wildlife in their gardens! Striving for “Vivian’s Meadow” will be such a lovely way to replace your lawn. I’d love to see photos of it when you’re finished with the transformation.

    • jubilare

      Thank you, Carole! I will definitely post pictures.

      I’ve been gobbling up the wonderful posts on these websites and adding to my ideas and plans for both my front and back yards. When I moved into my house, some three years back, it was pretty much a blank slate. I spent some time removing exotic invasive (the never-ending battle), and some thoughtlessly-planted exotic garden plants, built a compost heap and a brush-pile and planted a few natives. It is amazing how just that much (and not using chemicals) increased the variety of life I see around me. Always something new, beautiful and fascinating. :)

  • Mary

    I can’t wait to see pictures. I live in a townhome with very little plantable land but I’ve managed to get a few flowers growing (hydrangeas and hollyhocks)! I end up having to grow most things I want in pots indoors. Fun fact: The first thing I wanted to be when I grew up was a farmer. That love of growing things has never really left me.

    • jubilare

      Games AND plants! Two more things we have in common. :)
      Every little bit of planting helps. Townhouse strips, apartment porches, parking-lot islands, all have an opportunity to grow great stuff. I planted some oakleaf hydrangeas in my back yard not long ago, and I am hoping they are able to survive the unusual cold.
      I’ve no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up, unless it be a panther or somesuch. Part of me is drawn to farm-life, though, so I can understand the desire.

  • Rob

    I am the worst gardener ever. Or close. Our front lawn is a natural habitat just because I have no idea how to make it anything else.

  • stephencwinter

    I loved your thoughts on a wildlife garden. We bought an old lock keepers cottage in the Worcestershire countryside during the summer. It sounds more idyllic than it is. The Romans built a road that runs alongside it and it can get pretty busy sometimes but I love to walk alongside the canal with our dog with all the waterfowl around me. We don’t own much land with the cottage but there’s lots of country around us. We’ll do what we can with the land we have. One sad thing is that the front garden in the house where we used to live which we filled with wild flowers has been torn up so that an extra car can be parked there. I don’t like to go back now. Hope you will be free from your hard winter soon.

    • jubilare

      Thanks! One of the critters I love most, in the garden, is the five-lined skink: http://srelherp.uga.edu/lizards/eumfas.htm When they are young, they have the most striking coloring, and they move like mercury. Every place seems to have its own plant and animal treasures. Do you have hedgehogs?
      I’ve never been to Worcestershire, though I would like to visit if I get a chance to go back to the UK. I understand Tolkien was fond of it, and that alone makes me want to see it. :)
      The cold this year has been pretty extraordinary, and repeated. It’s not as bad here as in other parts of the U.S., but it is severe for us. I now just have to wait and see what survives until Spring. I think my Rosemary has had it, and perhaps one of the native shrubs planted by the previous owners. I just hope my wax-myrtle survives. It’s looking pinched. On the plus side, though: http://www.npr.org/2014/01/10/261435111/the-upside-of-the-bitter-cold-it-kills-bugs-that-kill-trees The exotic-invasive wooly adelgid, which is rapidly killing off our hemlocks (which are among my favorite trees), may be dying back because of the cold. Oh, that every last one in the U.S. would die and be gone from our forests!

  • Bill

    Less lawn is part of our 2014 planning as well. We’ve planted some figs and plan to add blueberries this spring. We picked up some information this weekend at an organic farming conference and now are filled with ideas about edible landscaping. Looking forward to seeing how the projects (ours and yours) go!

    • jubilare

      Edible landscaping is great! I thought about native blueberries, but I don’t have a place where I think they would grow well. My mother, on the other hand, has figs and various other fruiting things.

  • robstroud

    We intentionally try to support the creatures in the forest where we’re privileged to live. We have a very small lawn, filled with clover to the delight of the deer and rabbits. Don’t make the same effort to support the arthropod community, but they seem to thrive nonetheless!

    • jubilare

      The arthropods thrive pretty easily so long as nobody sprays them :)
      I think we shoot ourselves in the proverbial foot when we spray because the predators get hit harder than the prey, and then the prey populations explode and cause all kinds of trouble.

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