I grew up with a mother who was constantly outside in the landscape. I remember hot weekend afternoons cleaning up shrub and plant trimmings, and cool summer morning sprints to a string of local nurseries for something new.
But while being in the home landscape with my mother planted a seed in me, it was the overall urban / suburban wildness of my Minnesota youth that made a deep, lasting impression. Small woodlands filled with vocal wildlife, ponds and lakes dotting every bend in the road -- and the distinct, evocative seasons rich in their personalities.
As I've grown older my earliest years living in Oklahoma have come to the surface, especially with research trips. The vast openness, the wind, the mixed grass prairie, all have just as deeply colored my emotional and physical aesthetics. I'm honored to live in a diverse state like Nebraska, where prairies meet forest and mountain, and where millions of migrating birds give new resonance to the definition of flyover country.
Monarch Gardens is Benjamin Vogt. His 2,500' garden (soon to be 4,500') has been on several tours and was named a top outdoor space of 2012 by Apartment Therapy. The garden has been featured in Fine Gardening, Garden Design, Nebraska Life, the Omaha World Herald, the Lincoln Journal Star, and on KOLN (Lincoln's CBS affiliate). Benjamin writes a weekly, award-winning garden column for Houzz (over 2.5 million reads with 170 articles) and has contributed a list of prairie plants for the book Lawn Gone! Low Maintenance, Sustainable, Attractive Alternatives for Your Yard. Several of his photographs are included in The Xerces Society's Gardening for Butterflies (Timber Press), have appeared in Orion Magazine and Northern Gardener (including the July/August 2016 cover), and are part of a permanent display at Spring Creek Prairie and the University of Nebraska. He has been interviewed for several articles which have appeared in High Country News, All Animals Magazine, and the book Pollinator Friendly Gardening (Hachette).
You can pre-order Benjamin's newest book, which will be released on October 10:
A New Garden Ethic: Cultivating Defiant Compassion for an Uncertain Future
Benjamin is a former board member of the Wachiska Audubon Society, a prairie conservation and wildlife organization overseeing 1,000 acres in southeast Nebraska. He also runs the Facebook page Milk the Weed, a lively space where 8,000 folks share the joys of milkweed, native plants, and helping native pollinators. He has a Ph.D. in English and has taught over fifty college classes for which he's received multiple awards. You'll find his essays in anthologies like The Tallgrass Prairie Reader, Natural Treasures of the Great Plains, and Prairie Gold. He is the author of three poetry collections and two unpublished memoirs -- the memoirs are based on family & gardening as well as homesteading the prairie environment in the 1800s.
No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.