I'm baring it all today and showing you what HQ looks like from a bird's eye advantage -- or a bee's eye advantage. This is obviously where a lot of my experimentation takes place; when I look at these drone images I see not only a personal landscape I didn't think looked like this, but also the many changes I'd like to make. I also see how crazy I might appear to neighbors. In any case, I believe employing drone footage on future garden designs may be a useful tool for myself and clients as we imagine a new landscape paradigm.
I'd say this is a pretty typical newer subdivision. I'm assuming most folks sink all of their money into the home and landscaping isn't part of the budget, or any sort of landscaping is seen as high maintenance. Of course we all know the benefit nature has to learning as well as mental and physical health, not to mention increases in property value (I once read a study that showed for each caliper inch of a front yard tree one could add $1,000 to the price of a home -- but sure, that sounds crazy, even though street trees alone increase neighborhood desirability). Have I mentioned how woody plants can decrease home energy use?
My back property line is city limits and behind are small acreage lots. In the top right corner you can see a bit of a pond as well as a thin woodland that stretches along a good chunk of our development. This is a significant wildlife corridor and bird flyway. I'm careful not to use any fertilizers so nothing gets washed into the pond or street, and the majority of rainfall stays on our lot due to plant density and placement. I've tried to pull that wilder area out into the neighborhood in my small way, extending habitat just a bit.
I manage the front yard more intently than the back, thinning aggressive species, cutting back tall ones in early summer, adding new flowers in summer and fall where gaps have developed, et cetera. While the space will certainly look wild to the lawn-only crowd (and at least 50% of neighbors have lawn up to the foundation wall), I'm still trying to create drifts and massing, as well as tiers or levels that we expect in traditional garden design. What do you think? Do suburban gardens like this matter? Can we evolve attitudes and help nature recover or adapt to a world of extinction and climate change? I hope the many people walking their dogs and babies will excitedly see the rabbit hunkering in the little bluestem, the goldfinch plucking seeds from flower heads, butterflies circling and settling on aster, and clouds of pollinators above goldenrod. But I also know many will see something that needs to be mowed, a place that harbors pests, and a homeowner who doesn't care. You already know of this year's weed inspection. Below are some more images I hope you enjoy. Prairie up!
Benjamin Vogt's blog on prairie gardening in Nebraska. With a healthy dose of landscape ethics and a dash of memoir.
In a time of climate change and mass extinction how & for whom we garden matters more than ever.
"This book is about so much more than gardening."
The Deep Middle
Gardening & writing in the prairie echo
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