Wednesday Vignette: Defiant Compassion

College Creek

College Creek


“Your Garden is Defiant Compassion

Your garden is a protest. It is a place of defiant compassion.

That space is one to help sustain wildlife and ecosystem function while providing an aesthetic response that moves you.

For you, beauty isn’t petal deep, but goes down into the soil, further down into the aquifer, and back up into the air and for miles around on the backs and legs of insects.

You don’t have to see soil microbes in action, birds eating seeds, butterflies laying eggs, ants farming aphids –

– just knowing it’s possible in your garden thrills you,

it’s like faith, and it frees you to live life more authentically.

Your garden is a protest

for all the ways in which we deny our life

by denying other lives.

Go plant some natives. Be defiantly compassionate.    “


Benjamin Vogt:    The Deep Middle


The cardinals feast on Wax Myrtle berries in our 'biohedge' all winter long.

The cardinals feast on Wax Myrtle berries in our ‘biohedge’ all winter long.


Benjamin Vogt visited Forest Garden this morning, and left a link to his “Defiant Compassion” post in a comment on my review of Ken Druse’s The Natural Habitat Garden.  Benjamin writes, speaks, designs native plant gardens, and maintains his own 2000 square foot prairie style garden in Nebraska.  I’m honored that he visited Forest Garden and left a comment and link to share his site.

His words move me, as I hope they move you.  He has cut through all of the chatter and spoken truth:

“- just knowing it’s possible in your garden thrills you,

it’s like faith, and it frees you to live life more authentically.”

Just knowing that it is possible to help sustain the food chain, the ecosystem, and the planet through our own small efforts on our own bit of land speaks to a powerful realization.  Each of us, through our own consistent choices and efforts may contribute to the great work.  We don’t need 100 acres and conservancy status to make a difference.  We can make a difference even in our small suburban yards.

And even better, when we can enlist the participation of a friend or two, together we have a far greater impact.  This awareness spreads from person to person, heart to heart, and garden to garden.


February 16,2016 sunset 022


This morning, I finally made the time to visit the National Wildlife Foundation’s website to register our garden as a Certified Wildlife Habitat.  This is something I’ve intended to do for months now.  I don’t know why I thought it would be a time consuming project.  It was really very simple, and took less than 10 minutes to complete.

To certify, you need to provide sources of food and water for wildlife, cover, safe areas to raise their young, and a healthy environment.  The website asks specific questions in all of these areas.  When you can certify that your garden provides the resources wildlife need to live, you qualify as an official habitat.

A minimal donation of $20.00  also brings membership in the National Wildlife Federation, its newsletters and magazines.

It is a symbolic step, you realize, but we are very happy to have become a part of this growing movement to support habitat and wildlife.

I intend to encourage my gardening friends, and maybe you, too, to certify your own garden as a Wildlife Habitat with the National Wildlife Federation.

It shows our commitment.  But it also shows our intent to work together with others to preserve native plants, native habitat, and the myriad creatures who share our gardens with us.  It is too great a task for any  of us to accomplish alone.  But in fellowship with others of like mind, we can make a significant impact.

~ September 4, 2015 garden 018


When I finished registering, the National Wildlife Federation kindly sent me a press release which we could forward on to our local newspaper.  Here is part of what it says:

“We are so excited to have another passionate wildlife gardener join us and create a Certified Wildlife Habitat. Over the last 40 years, nearly 200,000 wildlife gardeners have joined NWF’s Garden for Wildlife movement and helped restore wildlife habitat right in their own yards and neighborhoods,” said David Mizejewski, naturalist with the National Wildlife Federation. “Whether you garden in a suburban yard, an apartment balcony or a 10-acre farm, a schoolyard or a business park, or anything in between, everyone can create a home for local wildlife.  Turning your space into a Certified Wildlife Habitat is fun, easy and makes a big difference for neighborhood wildlife,” he added.

NWF’s Garden for Wildlife program encourages responsible gardening that helps pollinators and other wildlife thrive. It encourages planting with native species like milkweed and discouraging chemical pesticide use. With nearly 200,000 locations and growing, NWF’s Certified Wildlife Habitats and Community Wildlife Habitats recognize individuals, schools, groups and whole communities committed to providing habitat for wildlife, including pollinators.

Each of the nearly 200,000 certified locations provides food, water, cover and places to raise young. This makes yards, schools, businesses, places of worship, campuses, parks, farms and other community-based landscapes into wildlife sanctuaries. For more information on gardening for wildlife and details on how an entire community can become certified, visit or call 1-800-822-9919.  For more National Wildlife Federation news, visit:


September 30, 2015 Parkway 016


Don’t you want to be a part of this, too?  Please leave a comment if you already have a certified Wildlife Habitat.  And please also leave a comment if you decide to certify your yard as a habitat.  The process is structured to be feasible for gardeners in all sorts of living situations.  The Federation’s website offers many helpful resources to get started.


July 20, 2015 garden 005


Here are some resources from Forest Garden which might prove helpful, too:

Bringing Birds to the Garden

Butterfly and Hummingbird Gardens

Native Plants


August 29, 2015 turtle 004


“Wildness is the preservation of the World.”


Henry David Thoreau


July 1, 2015


“The Holy Land is everywhere”


Black Elk




February 16,2016 sunset 055~

Woodland Gnome 2016


Five Photos, Five Stories: Hot

May 19, 2015 hot 001


It was early this morning, coffee not yet made, and I was just beginning to stir together some pancake batter,  when I heard my partner’s muffled voice calling to me.  He wanted me to come outside with him to see something exciting.

He had found a good sized turtle on our driveway, and wanted to share it with me.

I peered out of the open back door to see what was going on.  And there, near the top of the drive, was a beautiful turtle just sunning himself in the steamy morning heat.  There had been heavy rain this morning just before sunrise, but the clouds had long ago cleared out, turning our garden into a sauna.

Not yet dressed for encountering neighbors, I made the compromise between photography and modesty by snapping a photo from the porch.

But then I wanted to see more of this beautiful turtle.  So I ventured a little further up the drive, camera aimed and ready.


May 19, 2015 hot 002


Turtle had the instinct so many of us feel when we know we’re being watched. He decided it was time to move on.  He took off at a turtle’s run for the shadowy roots of the Beech tree, disappearing before I could steal a third shot of him this morning.

I suppose we were both feeling a little modest, and I didn’t pursue him.  I left him to his peaceful morning, and quickly headed back inside to mine.

But my partner was happy now that I had seen our morning visitor, and I was happy to have gotten  a photo of him.


Are those leaves already turning in May?  Shot this afternoon along the bank of the James, where turtles love to sun themselves on the rocks.

Are those leaves already turning in May? Shot this afternoon along the bank of the James, where turtles love to sun themselves on the rocks.


Yesterday Barbara, at Silver in the Barn, invited me to take part in the Five Photos, Five Stories challenge ,which is quickly spreading  across the blogosphere.  I relish the relationships formed and connections found as we each write about our experiences and share our world through photos.

And so I made the commitment to accept Barbara’s challenge, and now pass that challenge on to Jenny at Jennifer Nichole Wells.

Jenny hosts the One Word Photo Challenge each week and takes amazing shots of miniatures which she creates and stages herself.  Jenny always has interesting little stories about her miniature scenes. She is a natural to invite to this challenge.  I hope she accepts.

This is a simple challenge:  To participate, you simply post a photo each day for five consecutive days, and tell a story about each photo.  The story can be truth or fiction, poetry or prose.  Each day one must also nominate a fellow blogger to participate in the challenge.

So I’ve combined my first day of the Five Photos, Five Stories challenge with Jenny’s One Word Photo Challenge: Hot today.


May 19, 2015 hot 018


“Hot” was a prescient pick for today.  It has been hot and muggy all day long.

We’ve had summer temperatures this third week of May, when our highs are normally still in the 70’s.  We topped out near 88 this afternoon. The only comfortable place was in the shade.

Huge, fluffy clouds were gathering  by mid-day, and there is  a possibility of thunderstorms again this evening.

We took a drive on the Colonial Parkway late this afternoon to watch the clouds build over the river.  Once on Jamestown Island, in the deep shade, our car thermometer dropped to around 86.  Even though it felt hot and muggy, with mayflies buzzing around and landing on me whenever we stopped to take a photo, the cool greens and blues of the landscape look cool.  A slight breeze fluttered off of the river, barely lifting my hair.

Summer has settled early over us here in Virginia, and it is hotThat is the long and the short of our story for today.


It was hot and muggy on Jamestown Island this afternoon, the steamy air full of hungry Mayflies.  Can you spot the yellow Iris growing in this marsh?

It was hot and muggy on Jamestown Island this afternoon, the steamy air full of hungry Mayflies. Can you spot the yellow Iris growing in this marsh?


With appreciation to Jennifer Nichole Wells for hosting the

One Word Photo Challenge:  Hot


Woodland Gnome 2015


May 19, 2015 hot 022

*   *   *

Five Photos, Five Stories: Dormant Isn’t Dead

Five Photos, Five Stories: Perspective

Five Photos, Five Stories: Turtle Mama

Five Photos, Five Stories: Chocolate Cake

Our Forest Garden- The Journey Continues

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