Saturday, February 25, 2017

Spring Action

Lots going on this spring, and I hope we'll be meeting up or working together soon. So, let me share with you a lovely start to 2017:

I'll be appearing at a few places.

3/6 -- Michigan Wildflower Conference -- Lansing, MI -- A New Garden Ethic

4/4 -- Spring Creek Prairie -- Denton, NE -- Gardening for Backyard Birds

4/29 -- Garden and Landscape Expo -- Gillette, WY -- Urban Prairie Gardens; Natives for Pollinators

5/21 -- Westminster Presbyterian Church -- Lincoln, NE -- Garden Club talk on pollinator gardens

7/8 -- Hitchcock Nature Center -- Honey Creek, IA -- A New Garden Ethic

If you know of 2018 events please hook me up, especially as I'll be in book tour mode. 

Garden Design
This year I'll be donating 5% of all garden design fees to local nonprofits that conserve, restore, and educate about the tallgrass prairie in eastern Nebraska. In a time of climate change, extinction, and regulatory rollbacks, it's incumbent upon us to act and think local -- and support the community of all flora and fuana.

I'm also working with the Nebraska Wildlife Federation to design and install pollinator gardens at an elementary school, middle school, and a retirement center. It's very cool!

And of course I'm always looking for more residential projects, both local and across the Midwest. One I've started will feature the extension of a bird flyway, hedgerow habitat for native bees, a bioswale, and vegetable beds.

As far as I know the book is still on schedule for a fall release, date TBD. Cover is still being drafted and copy editing is in the early stages. Title confirmed -- A New Garden Ethic: Cultivating Defiant Compassion for an Uncertain Future. Again, the subject is the psychology and ethics of using native plants in a time of climate change and mass extinction, and lots of science of flora / faunal relationships with a dash of landscape design history and principles for a healthy urban future. It is very much a deep, reflective, activist style book.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Daffodils and a Hollow Nature

Daffodils, crocus, snowdrops, and tulips do not signify spring to me. Here in the central and northern Great Plains, that role usually falls to pasque flower, which blooms sometime in late March to mid April. While flower bulbs from half a world away may be an aesthetic delight to us, for wildlife and ecosystems they are often as devoid of function as plastic bottles. In garden design circles the belief is that aesthetics is enough because it (beauty) engages us with nature. But that nature has often felt hollow to me -- it's how I feel walking a rose garden or hosta collection, places for us alone, so insular, so absent in a time of climate change and mass extinction. Every garden and every plant should welcome as many species as possible, help us learn one another's language and culture, connect us to our homeplaces, and open the door to compassion that puts other's needs before our own. If a garden is primarily for me, the garden ceases to be a place of hope.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Privilege in the Ethical Garden

Our species has long had privilege over other species. Slowly, our privilege has begun to feel like a right -- something preordained. We can see this with white middle and upper class privilege. When anyone starts talking about the rights of others -- the poor, the immigrant, the transgender -- suddenly equality feels like discrimination for those with privilege. Perhaps the same thing happens when we discuss equality for other species and their landscapes. When we're asked to think critically about our privilege as a species -- where it comes from, what effect it has on others -- we feel marginalized, just like we've made others feel marginalized. And when we're asked to garden with native plants, and for the goal of helping others -- of creating equality -- humans feel attacked and minimized. And yet, there are those who feel empowered by empowering others, ensuring the rights of the poor, the immigrants, the transgender, the bees, the birds. They see equality not as a threat but a grand opportunity to practice our deepest-held beliefs as a compassionate culture and species. 

What happens when we privilege others? How do our ethical codes expand? What happens when we step back from our tunnel vision and expand the viewpoint to the perspective of others? What do you need to thrive? What do you need to be healthy? What do you need to be happy? Your thriving, your health, your happiness is mine in spades. And this is why when we garden for others our gardens will transcend their origins, and in some small way, instruct and be instructed by a larger social ethics and social justice.