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Planting Seeds of Hope
Planting Seeds of Hope
Published by Porterbrook
07-20-2009
Default Planting Seeds of Hope

Planting Seeds of Hope
By
Frank W. Porter
Porterbrook Native Plants

American society is once again at a major crossroads. The economy is faltering. Foreign policy has embroiled us in two major wars. Natural resources are declining at an alarming rate. Health care is in desperate straits. And the educational system simply is not working. It takes a catastrophe of one sort or another to awaken us to the perils facing our way of life. Some hope that the federal government will devise a strategy to remedy the situation. Some choose to play a waiting game, believing that the problems will magically resolve themselves. And others have decided to take matters into their own hands, wanting to return to a simpler time, a more meaningful way of life when family, friends, and church were the foundations to fulfill their dreams.

We have become all too dependent on modern technology. Our every need is satisfied by people, production, and energy beyond our control. As a result, we have become more and more removed from the land that nourishes and sustains us. Today’s youth (and many of their parents) do not know how to raise their own food. Many of them have never planted a garden. It is time to return to a greater measure of self-sufficiency, to re-enforce family togetherness, to renew our bond with and understanding of nature, and to strengthen our moral principles.

There is something deeply satisfying about planting a garden, be it a vegetable garden or a flower bed. Gardening puts us in touch with nature. It teaches us to understand and appreciate the fragile ecosystem that supports life on earth. Not so long ago, the North American landscape consisted of vast woodlands, extensive prairies, verdant meadows, grassy savannahs, and wetlands. These natural areas, because of population growth and rampant development, are but vestiges of their original splendor.

Whether you live in the city or the country, your gardening efforts can make a significant difference in helping to restore the natural landscape. Have you ever considered that your garden, no matter the size, could become a wildlife preserve that could help sustain plants and animals that were once common in North America? Have you given any thought about why you chose the plants that are now growing in your garden? In the past, our gardens were created solely for their beauty. They provided us an opportunity to express our artistic talents. They became spaces for us to relax and play in. Huge expanses of lawn enveloped the gardens. Our gardens and landscapes became a measure of our wealth and social status. Little or no thought was given to the environmental cost of maintaining the way we landscaped our properties.

Enjoying natural areas and seeing wildlife became places to visit while on vacation. Automobiles and highways made nature accessible. The loss of habitat and the decline of species nearer to home has been something that we have heard little about. We have it in our power to bring about change by the way we garden. We can once again bring nature closer to home.

Using native plants in the landscape is the first critical step in that direction. Native plants have evolved over thousands of years and are adapted to local conditions. Once established, they flourish without the need for fertilizers or pesticides. And only rarely do they require watering. Native plants provide both food and habitat for wildlife; and they contribute to biodiversity. By creating wildflower gardens, we begin to understand what makes our natural areas unique. As wildlife begins to return to our landscape, we also begin to understand how our ecosystem functions. We should be gardening in harmony with nature: not in a battle against nature. We can begin finally to appreciate the beauty and importance of our native plants and wildlife.

Gardening can become a family experience. It is a time to share with your children your own experiences as you learned from your parents and grandparents. These are lessons and stories that will remain with them for the rest of their lives. I recall a spring when my Father decided to grow peanuts. My Uncle John happened to be visiting, and he asked my Father why he was planting the peanuts still in their shells. My Father replied: “The shells will quickly rot away and the peanuts will germinate.” By mid-summer, not a single peanut had germinated. When queried by my uncle, my Father replied: “It must have been a bad batch of peanuts.” He never admitted to anyone that the peanuts should have been removed from the shell. I can still see the smile on my uncle’s face when he dug a peanut from the ground and found the seed still inside!

How can you begin to create a native plant landscape? You can start by planting a butterfly garden. You can build a rain garden or a small pond that will not only prevent run-off but attract wildlife. You can replace non-native species with native plants in your flowerbeds. You can replace much of your lawn with low-maintenance groundcovers. And you can learn from others and share what you learn. Your native plant landscape will bring years of enjoyment to you and your family. You will have planted seeds of hope for the future.

Reprinted with permission from the Marietta Register
  #1  
By TheLorax on 07-20-2009, 07:30 PM
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Oh Porterbrook, as always you come through. 'Planting Seeds of Hope' is truly inspirational.

Thank you for providing us with yet another Porterbrook classic.
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  #2  
By Carole on 07-20-2009, 10:23 PM
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Porterbrook: I love how you think! I especially like how you stress that even a small garden can make a big difference.
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  #3  
By Cirsium on 07-20-2009, 11:27 PM
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Great article Porterbrook! For a fleeting moment the thought ran through my mind that 'I couldn't have said it better myself'; but after that fleeting moment I realized that I couldn't have even come close to stating it as superbly as you did.
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  #4  
By BooBooBearBecky on 07-27-2009, 12:58 AM
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Nice article Porterbrook! I'd sure like see a "part 2." on this. You bring up so many good points.

BooBooBearBecky
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  #5  
By Porterbrook on 07-27-2009, 08:50 AM
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Thank you BooBooBearBecky. Somewhere in the dark recesses of my brain, part 2 is gestating. I am working on an article about women who were able to do pioneering work with native plants at a time when they were not allowed to join professional societies.
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  #6  
By Carole on 07-27-2009, 01:03 PM
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I am so looking forward to your article about pioneering women. There are many unsung heroes that I'd love to see you discuss.
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  #7  
By milkweed on 07-27-2009, 05:12 PM
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Quote:
Enjoying natural areas and seeing wildlife became places to visit while on vacation. Automobiles and highways made nature accessible. The loss of habitat and the decline of species nearer to home has been something that we have heard little about. We have it in our power to bring about change by the way we garden. We can once again bring nature closer to home.
Bravo bravo
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  #8  
By biigblueyes on 10-03-2009, 08:27 AM
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You have such an eloquent way with words. Very nice.
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