Today has been another day of weeding, spreading compost, planting, and delighting in bits of perennial poking up through the warming soil.
Each newly emerging Echinacea, Monarda, and Comfrey merits a quiet celebration that winter is behind us now, and spring unfolding.
Finding a dead looking stick poking out of the Earth, with a small cluster of dark green leaves emerging at its base, brings quiet satisfaction that another hardy plant has survived to grow for another summer.
Once these little bits of green emerge, they grow so very quickly. The change is apparent from day to day, as they grow, branch, and set buds for another season.
I worked today on some informal herb and perennial beds terraced on the slope behind our butterfly and hummingbird garden. Several large Lilac shrubs, just opening their flowers, anchor these long narrow beds.
I’ve been digging them into the hillside bit by bit over the last few years, planting sturdy shrubs, iris, and herbs whose roots will hold this hillside in place and whose blooms will attract every butterfly in the county.
Now I’m hoping to find some milkweed plants to work into this area as hosts for Monarch butterflies. There is already bronze fennel growing.
I’ve planted additional parsley this year, and I broadcast dill seeds last year. Although many butterflies lay their eggs on hardwood trees, like the Tulip Poplar, parsley, dill,and fennel host the swallowtail butterflies which animate our garden for months each summer.
Host plants are a very important part of any butterfly garden and help insure that our butterfly populations are maintained or increased year to year.
Now, as we are adding plants for the new season, is an important time to consider how our choice of plants can contribute to the health of our environment.
My partner and I have been keenly interested in the data on climate change released by the UN over this past weekend. The amount of carbon dioxide in the air we breathe is higher now than it has ever been in the last 800,000 years.
Carbon in the atmosphere contributes to our planet’s rising surface temperature. An increase of only two degrees Celsius will re-shape our landmasses as coastal areas flood.
Although the problem is vast, and will take planet wide cooperation to fully address, each of us can do a little bit to help. If all of us will do a little bit, then all of us together can make a tremendous positive difference.
All plant life, from algae growing in a pond to the beautiful Cedars of Lebanon, continuously draw carbon out of the air.
The basic process of creating food from sunlight requires carbon dioxide and water. Plants convert these compounds into sugar, storing the sugar in each and every cell. The products of this process are pure oxygen and water vapor.
This means that everything we plant, whether a tree or a marigold flower, will help scrub carbon dioxide out of the air;while producing pure oxygen for us to breathe. Isn’t this an elegant plan?
We lose so many large trees each year. Some are lost to logging or to clearing land for new shopping centers, roads, neighborhoods, and agriculture.
Other trees are lost to storms or disease. If each of us can counterbalance this by planting even one tree each year, it can make a tremendous difference or our environment.
Not only do trees scrub huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but they offer cool shade. Their roots hold the soil against erosion.
Those of us fortunate enough to have land where we can plant trees can certainly add a tree to our yards. Those without space to plant can contribute to organizations dedicated to rebuilding forests around the world.
Every little action from each of us adds up to a mighty effort towards healing our planet.
There are many organizations involved in reforestation. One particularly interesting one is the Eden Reforestation Projects.
But today, I wasn’t doing anything so grand as planting a tree. Rather, I was pulling weeds, building the soil with compost, and planting herbs.
I planted parsley, sage and thyme today, and some marigolds. Every little bit we do makes a difference.
The garden is still looking rather unimpressive.
There are still leaves lying about, and the little wild strawberries would gladly re-take our hillside given the chance. Their dense mats hold the soil.
The little strawberries they produce feed our birds. And yes, even the little weedy wild strawberries filter carbon out of the air, and do their little bit to make our planet a better place to live.
Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014