Green Today or Gone Tomorrow

I love the winter / spring seasons here in South Florida. The weather is generally milder and less humid, and it’s when we do the bulk of our gardening.

It always feels like a new beginning. New plants and shrubs, and a fresh surge of purpose and dedication. Now that our water restrictions have tightened, I feel even more justified – dare I say, even foresighted – that I’ve been concentrating on planting native and naturalized plants. They may not be as instantly showy, but once they get acclimated to their new surroundings, I never water anything. Unless you’ve got little kids that need to run on the stuff, or dogs who need to poop on the stuff, lawn grass is such a waste of space, time, and resources (including money). I preach to an empty choir most of the time, but I’m betting that new converts will be popping up the longer this drought and these water restrictions go on.

It’s so easy to make a mini-habitat, I can’t believe that more people don’t do it! A couple of bird feeders (or even just one), a bird bath (I use the catch tray from a large plastic planter set on top of the turned-over planter – easy to dump out and refill with the garden hose). Let an inconspicuous corner of the yard go wild. Plant native grasses, plants, and shrubs. Above all, give up the pesticides and weed killers! The birds themselves will do a bit of “planting” for you, if you catch my drift. It’s so much fun and interesting to see what shows up.

We’re so urbanized and concrete-ized, we tend to forget where our water comes from, how our air is cleaned. Want to see butterflies, cardinals, and hummingbirds up close and personal? Plant for them! They don’t have to be just static images on prints and knick-knacks. Bring on the grackles, the blackbirds, the hawks, and yes, even the squirrels!

This is the perfect opportunity to learn about your personal habitat: sit back and watch what visits your yard naturally. Learn what grows in your area that attracts the wildlife you enjoy. Once established, there’s almost no effort involved. This is how to save water, gas (@ nearly $4 /gallon, thankyouverymuch), and improve air quality in your little corner of the world.

Now Certify Your Habitat and become part of National Wildlife Federation’s Certified Wildlife Habitat™ program. You don’t even have to have a yard — your apartment balcony, the entrance to your office, a corner of your business’ parking lot — all of these can be habitats, too!

Now the birds who’ve been coming around for meals are beginning to bring their offspring. The cardinal family will start bringing the kids around any day now, so I’ll be particularly vigilant in supplementing the berries and insects they’ve been picking off the shrubs the last few weeks. This is the time when I’ll start to complete my chores in the evening, so I can waste the early mornings before work with a cup of coffee and my binoculars in the backyard.

Who needs Zen and meditation? I’ve got a lounge chair, a cup of coffee, and my daily visitors.

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