Posted in GARDENING, Southernisms

Gardening for Nature

Dear Mr. Garden Guy,

Why didn’t you warn me about “gardening for nature?”

I grew up in the ‘hood of the 1970s.  My childhood home was a dilapidated duplex apartment on a dusty dirt street.  The heavy summer rains would push the red mud between the gaps under the front door.   I hated that mud.  I hated that dirt. But my mother Daisy knew what to do with them both.   Outside she grew the prettiest little flowers in that mud and dirt.  She planted them near the small stoop of our front porch.  When the blossoms thrived under her care, the dirt and mud didn’t seem all that bad.

I wanted to work magic with that dirt and mud like my momma.  I wanted to understand nature.

So dear Garden Guy I read your books about the flora and fauna of my native state.   I watched your television shows and attended your lectures.

I readily embraced nature and all its fresh-air goodness when my husband and I purchased property that included woodland.

Our Backyard

I knew “nature” was hiding in those woods  and I was determined to coax it out – to see it up close.  I asked you, Mr. Garden Guy, and you told me to “garden for nature.”  You told me to provide fresh water, food and shelter and they will come.

So I did and they did!

  • Birds: Millet plants, quality bird seeds, suet cake
  • Deer: feeder corn, weedy dandelions left to grow
  • Squirrels and relatives: raw peanuts, leafy greens

Soon our backyard looked like a scene from a Disney movie.  Deer, squirrels, chipmunks, oh my!

But Dear Garden Guy what you didn’t tell me that “nature” wouldn’t go away nor stick to its assigned menus.

  • Happy yellow pansies endured the cold of winter, only to become a deer’s nighttime snack.
  • Wasps visited the hummingbird feeder more often than the intended guest.
  • A disgruntled squirrel chewed off a piece of our back door when it couldn’t get to the hanging birdfeeder.

My relationship with “nature” became strained.   Then a red-tailed hawk set up home in our woods.  And the troublesome population began to get a little less troublesome and a little less populated.

So you see Mr. Garden Guy, the best way to “garden for nature” is to just leave it alone.  It can get along just fine without any help from me!

Our woodland


Hi! I'm Denise Massey - the funny face behind ArtReach at Home. My past: museum curator, art teacher and consultant. Today: a blogger sharing creativity and personal stories about life in the South.

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