Friday, April 22, 2005

EVERY DAY IS EARTH DAY!


Click on photo to enlarge
A small part of our Native Plant Garden as it looked in June of 2004.
In bloom here is Grape Soda Lupine, Blue Flax, California Poppy, Indian Paintbrush and Hedgehog Cactus.

I wrote the following piece as a handout for the Earth Day Commemoration at the U. S. Forest Service Big Bear Discovery Center last year and will be passing it out again tomorrow as part of our Native Plant gardening presentation at this year's event.


WHY GARDEN WITH NATIVE PLANTS?

Most residents of Big Bear Valley were at least partially influenced in their decision to live here by the natural beauty of the San Bernardino Mountains. But the majority of us also, out of habit and familiarity, brought our gardening preferences with us from ‘Down The Hill’.


So we design lawns & gardens similar to those we had in a much different eco-system, spend lots of time & money, using lots of water & fertilizer, to reap the rewards of our hard labor for maybe 90 to 120 days a year, while making the yards of the wonderful mountain homes we moved to look much like the yards of the old places we left behind.

We buy or build rustic homes which reflect our appreciation of a mountain aesthetic, yet most of us still garden with a stereotypical marigold, pansy and petunia mentality. So why not change our minds about gardening?

If the wondrous natural beauty of the mountains is a reason to live here isn’t there a way we can surround ourselves with that wonder in our very own gardens? The answer seems obvious. Fill your garden with plants native to the San Bernardino Mountains.

Plant species native to Big Bear Valley and the surrounding area have evolved over time to harmonize with the extreme weather variations of our high altitude environment and they grow perfectly fine with no soil amendment or fertilizer. Once established, a native garden needs very little watering, and the plants will survive the winters, providing perpetual beauty for your garden year after year.

The great variety of birds and insect pollinators that share symbiotic relationships with the plants of their community will thrive in your native garden and provide you with endless hours of fascination at nature’s wonders, and you will be doing your part to perpetuate the integrity of our local ecology.

In these times of climate change, drought, water shortages and mass species extinction it would be very wise of us, as earth’s dominant species, to live more democratically among the other inhabitants we share the planet with. Native plant gardening is one great way to promote change in your own backyard.

EVERY DAY IS EARTH DAY!

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