Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

In your opinion...

It's that time of year again: Flower & Garden Show Time! This works out well for us Garden Communicators in cold climates, since we're not so busy outdoors for the next few months. I can't think of a better way to spend the winter than learning about new plants and hearing garden experts speak about what they know and love. (Well maybe an extended topical vacation, but that gets expensive...)

This year I'm giving a brand new presentation as the keynote address for the Connecticut Master Gardeners Association Symposium, in Manchester, CT: Just Because You're a Gardener Doesn't Mean You're Green! I'm excited because this is a chance to talk with experienced gardeners about making considered, careful choices on how to garden in harmony with the environment.

As gardeners we're more aware of our natural surroundings than many people...that's what comes of being obsessed with plants and landscapes. But we can do better. This lecture focuses on simple suggestions on how to be a better gardener AND a better environmental steward, and I'd like your help.

E.g., one of my pet peeves is how some gardeners don't understand that even organic insecticides can be harmful to the environment. Pyrethrin based sprays (made from certain Chrysanthemum species) may be organic, but they're still toxic to pollinators, fish, and birds. We all need to understand that there are alternatives to reaching for a bottle of bug spray.

What do YOU think is important? Have you reduced the size of your lawn or started cultivating the Soil Food Web? I want to know. Please share your ideas with me, and I promise to give a public shout out to anyone whose contribution makes it into my final presentation. And of course you'll have my undying gratitude...


Urban Gardens said...

Thank you for sharing this information about the organic pesticides. I did not know about this and have posted interviews with some urban farmers who mention using these. I will be passing on this important news.

JHopkins said...

Think native in your plant selection. those beautiful wildflowers and woodlanders that have been around forever don't need pampering and boatloads of chemicals to be happy and healthy in your climate. Great talk topic Ellen!

Frank said...

A couple of things come to mind:

1) If you have your house painted, use tarps to catch the scrapings-all those chemicals and pigments end up in your soil including a lot of heavy metals.

2) Don't compact your soil, its the worst thing you could do.

3) Living with a certain amount of imperfection allows a lot of life to keep on living. I try to use trap plants for creatures that clearly do harm i.e. broccoli for aphids.

4) Don't get angry with the animals, they just want what we set out for them. Avoid trouble by outsmarting them.

Good Luck!

Ellen Zachos said...

Thanks everyone, keep 'em coming!

Jen, I'm a big fan of natives, but I continue to recommend and use non-native plants as long as they're low maintenance. E.g., I have no problem using Mediterranean plants in Bay Area gardens (even if they came halfway around the globe) because the two environments are so similar. I'll be sure to make this clear in my presentation.

Frank, so many good ideas, thank you. I would never have thought of the paint thing, and soil compaction is definitely a problem that's better to avoid than go back and fix. I agree about living with some imperfection and outsmarting the wildlife. They have certain advantages over us, but we have bigger brains. I think.

Georgia said...

I recognize that "green" house. Did you attend the 2009 SF Flower Show?

Ellen Zachos said...

Wow Georgia, I'm impressed! Yes, I took that photo at the SF Flower Show last year. I gave two lectures and had a great time. I'm curious to see how the show will change with new ownership, but sadly I won't be making the trip this year.

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