DescriptionIn the 1950s and ‘60s, I was one of four children in a small, three bedroom ranch on the edge of town. My mother was the gardener with her daylilies, tulips, mint, Touch-me-not, roses, portulaca, and marigolds. I’m sure there were others. In the mid to late 60’s my father started vegetable gardening with corn, lettuce, beans, tomatoes, squash and cucumbers. My gardening introduction was in pulling weeds and harvesting crops with my brother and sisters. During this same time, my grandfathers, (on both sides), enjoyed feeding the birds and shared their interest with me whenever we visited. These two activities, gardening and birding, set the stage for my increasing interest in the natural world.
As a young adult in my first home, in a new subdivision on the new edge of town which was 8.5 miles out from my childhood home, I was ready to try gardening on my own. It was 1982 and I was interested in gardening to attract birds and wildlife in general, on a limited budget. Most of the planning and decisions were mine alone as my wife did not share this budding passion of mine. Trial and error are great garden teachers.
Through years of gardening trial and error, successes and failures, and many homes (and states) later, my gardening preference, now that I’m in my 60s, is fully focused on gardening for wildlife and the reduction of lawn. And, I’m sharing my passion with my children. I’m back in my hometown, this time not quite 2 miles from my childhood home.
Fast forwarding to this update, my landscape is a thriving certified National Wildlife Federation wildlife habitat that is teaming with color from year around blooms of mostly native flowers and shrubs, and even more color from the wildlife and pollinators that live/visit here. I’ve learned that even in a fast growing healthy economy like Charlotte, NC, you can (and should) provide a healthy, sustainable ecosystem for local wildlife to thrive. Volunteering with a local environmental organization, we’ve helped this city exceed 1,252 certified wildlife habitats in 2019 that include garden landscapes of homes, schools, businesses, and places of worship. We also certified the whole city! I’ll keep sharing this story and these certified gardens will continue to increase in number.
Gardening is the future. We can either choose to grow a monoculture (lawn) with GMO shrubs, or we can create a nature rich future, in any community, that benefits all living things. Time to share this passion with the grandkids!
- Story contributed by Ernie M.