The Changing Landscape

Has your landscape become a chore? Do the members of your family argue about who’s turn it is to prune the shrubs, weed, or rake the leaves? If so you might have, like many of us, lost your way. But hope is on the horizon! We have many valuable teachers around the globe that can help us find our way back to the solace that nature provides in our gardens in this busy world.

Before and After of a volunteer designed and managed drought tolerant and native landscape at the Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden in Southern California shows a miraculous transformation from a lifeless garden to one filled with wildlife.

Like many of us, you might have been re-thinking your landscape already. The known plight of the monarch butterfly may have you wondering what you can do to help. Possibly the disappearance of the pollinators has spurred a new interest in gardening. Songbirds needing more native plants has perhaps concerned you enough to make some changes to assist them.

Whatever the reason, let’s be assured the tide is changing and it is changing rapidly. When I lived in Southern California, the water shortage was the canary in the coal mine that alerted us that water intensive landscape practices were literally killing us. What we didn’t know was that changing those practices to native and drought tolerant plantings would also benefit nature that were also dying from our practices. Rare and endangered species of birds, lizards, and insects began to reappear.

During the changes in the landscapes, many homeowners expressed the concern that their landscapes would look like tumbleweeds and cacti. I know personally I wasn’t prepared for the breathtaking landscapes that transformed my neighborhood.

Before and After of the Veterans Plaza Pollinator Garden in Greenwood, SC.

Even more shocking to me was the experience of standing in a garden filled with sound, fragrance, and movement! No one can prepare you for that. The sages, ceanothus, and buckwheat were alive with pollinators, the scurry of lizards and the sounds of birds was a spiritual experience to all that visited these water conserving gardens.

Across the U.S. in Greenwood, SC transformations are happening in public areas, too. The Veterans Plaza Pollinator Garden went from meatball shaped shrubs to traffic-stopping beauty in one season. This type of garden stops not only vehicles, but pollinators can’t pass by without the alluring color and fragrance that draws them in. George W. Park, founder of Park Seed, considered gardening “a spiritual delight as well as a useful and pleasant activity.” Can you say that about the experience in your garden?

Ann’s Garden Before and After

When homeowners visit these public gardens, they are encouraged to plant them as their own homes. Experiencing the life in these gardens and seeing how plants grow has a way of spurring new interest in these important landscapes. My work for the City of Greenwood, SC and their desire to move into a more sustainable landscape has created more than 6 pollinator gardens and added hundreds of native plants to help wildlife. Since I was new to the area, it helped me learn what plants would be useful to pollinators and other wildlife. After several years, I was able to transform my lifeless, labor intensive garden into a pollinator paradise.

In upcoming articles, I will guide you down the process of creating your own paradise that will fill you with delight over a long season of sounds, fragrance, and spiritual enrichment.

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About Ann Barklow

Ann is a Certified Horticulturist, Master Gardener and Arborist with 35 years in the Horticultural and Landscaping Field. In her community, she serves on the Piedmont Tech Horticultural Advisory committee along with Bee City USA, America in Bloom, Lakeland's Master Gardener Board of Directors, and the Festival of Flowers Committee. She is a Strategic Partner with Park Seed, Wayside Gardens and Jackson and Perkins - educating on pollinators and wildlife.

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