Category Archives: Nature
May is Gardening for Wildlife Month. Planning a wildlife garden to attract the type of wildlife you want can be fun. You can always purchase pre-planned kits from reputable sources or you can plan your own. The National Wildlife Federation has a certified habitat program and provides some great tips to get started.
To provide a balanced habitat, here are the elements you’ll need to consider.
- Food sources: Wildlife needs herbaceous plants, shrubs, and trees that can provide food including pollen, nectar, seeds, berries, and the like. You’ll want to pick a variety of plants that will provide food throughout the year.
- Water: You’ll need to provide a source not only for drinking but also bathing and reproduction.
- Cover: Animals need and want cover plants so they can either hide or stalk their prey.
- Places to raise young: Many species have different habitat needs in their juvenile phase than they do as adults. Providing spaces for raising young will attract more wildlife.
When gardening for wildlife, using native plants is the best option for attracting local wildlife. One of the most useful plants in the native garden is purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). It’s benefits include:
- Attractive, long-lasting summer blooms add beauty both on it’s own and mixed in with other flowering plants in the garden. Blooms last from summer to fall and the seed heads lend intrest to the garden in the winter
- Butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds use the coneflower as a nectar source.
- Caterpillars and moths use it as a food source.
- It’s a hardy, naturalizing perennial. They self-sow, don’t need to be divided, and are drought tolerant. You’ll save time, money, and other resources .
- After the blooms fade, birds feast on the seeds.
- A diverse landscape using native plants can support an abundance of wildlife and can especially help declining populations, like pollinators;
- Using native plants conserves energy since they are acclimated to the local climate, requiring less water and maintenance once established;
- Attractive plantings and the wildlife drawn to them create artistic and educational opportunities; and
- You can share in the food abundance! Herbs like mints and parsley attract butterflies and fruit trees and shrubs attract lots of birds and mammals.
Throughout the month, I’ll be posting more info about resources and specific plants for specific wildlife. Feel free to let me know what you’d like to see here.
Every April 19 is National Hanging Out Day. Established by Project Laundry List, the day is meant to call attention to the amount of energy we use to dry our clothes. According to their estimates, between 6 and 10 percent of residential energy use is spent on drying clothes. A simple way to save money, help the environment, and spend some time outside is to line dry your laundry. Make sure to check your local ordinances before you use a clothesline; it’s may actually be banned where you live. If you can’t dry outside, you can always use a laundry rack inside.
May we all live a little greener,
As National Gardening Month continues and gardeners get outside more and more, it’s important to remember to honor the body. Moving the body before going to work is important. So, too, is taking breaks to stretch out the spine and legs. Occasional breaks will, in the long run, allow for more time to be spent gardening.
Here are some suggestions for some simple yoga poses that can be done in the garden.
Enjoy your time outside!
Yoga and gardening, aside from being two activities I enjoy, have a lot in common.
- A garden only thrives when we tend to it. The same can be said for our health. A yoga practice can help us maintain our physical and mental well-being.
- In gardening, you quickly learn that there is a connection between all systems. A plant only does well in the right soil, with the right amount of water, with the right sun exposure, and so on. Our bodies are the same way. An injury or imbalance in the hips may lead to back and/or knee pain. Stress can show up as tension in our shoulders, shortness of breath, and headaches. You have to work with more than one system to find balance.
- Yoga and gardening can reveal something new every day. Each day in the garden brings changes to plants, both good and bad. You might have plants suddenly budding out or you might have weeds suddenly popping up everywhere. In our yoga practice, you can do the same pose every day and every day there will be something different about it; some days it may be easy and some days it may be hard. I love that.
- If you’re a gardener, you likely know to prep your soil before starting. But do you prep your body for the physical exertion you’re about to do? A little yoga before, during, and after gardening won’t keep all aches and pains away, but it will likely help them go away faster. Click here for some gentle before-gardening poses (and watch this site for some during and after poses later this month).
Meet you in the garden,
April is National Gardening Month. Gardening can be relaxing, fun, and a great way to spend some time outdoors.
If you’re new to gardening, it’s great to learn some of the basic terms. Here are some of the basics to know before planning your garden.
- Hardiness zone: Where you live will affect how well plants will do in your garden. The USDA hardiness zone map will show you which hardiness zone, indicated by a number, you are in. These hardiness zones will be listed with plant information on plant tags and in catalogs.
- Perennials: Perennials are plants that have a life cycle of more than two years, meaning they will come back after the winter. Even if the top part of the plant dies back, which is frequently the case, the root systems survive. Perennials will vary by hardiness zone, so when shopping for plants make sure they are perennial in your zone if you are wanting them to last more than one season.
- Biennials: Biennials are plants whose life cycles end after two seasons.
- Annuals: Annuals are plants that have to be planted each year. Their entire life cycle happens in a single season.
Enjoy the growing season!
Promoted by Prevention magazine and further advocated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2004, the first Friday in April is National Walk to Work Day. The day is intended to encourage Americans to use their commute times as a window to get in their exercise for the day and lessen our carbon footprint.
I’m lucky in that the part-time job I recently started is a 3-minute walk from my home but not everyone lives close enough to their jobs to walk. If you can’t walk to work, you can take other action:
- Walk or do some other aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes;
- Walk more when you can and take the stairs if you’re able;
- Ride your bike to work or on errands; or
- Combine errands when you can so less time is spent in your car.
Get out there, Sunshine!
Since one of the signs of an imbalanced root chakra is feeling disconnected from the body, exercise plays a key role in healing. Activities like camping, gardening, walking, or hiking that take us outside help us feel more grounded. Yoga or dance, practices that help build body and breath awareness, are also especially beneficial.
Asanas, or yoga poses, that focus on the feet and base of the spine are particularly advantageous when working with the root chakra. Here are few of my favorites:
- Mountain (tadasana);
- Standing forward fold (uttanasa);
- Yogi squat (malasana);
- Cobbler’s pose or butterfly, in Yin (baddha konasana);
- Warrior I (virabhadrasana I);
- Warrior II (virabhadrasana II);
- Head-to-knee or 1/2 butterfly, in yin (janu sirsasana);
- Easy pose (sukhasana);
- Tree (vrksasana);
- Child’s pose (balasana); and
- Corpse pose (savasana).
May you find joy and peace in movement!