This mix of native and introduced species attracts a rich array of birds and pollinators that the owners enjoy. Photo Credit: T Beckjord
Goldfinches are gathering seed from the coneflowers now, but the lush blooms of the Flowering Spurge are still vibrant. Photo Credit: T Beckjord
Native plantings in public places offer their own Wendell Berry moment. Bob Leonard Walk, St. Charles, IL Photo Credit: T Beckjord
A Wendell Berry Moment
"The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope." - Wendell Berry
I’m not quite sure when I first fell in love with Wendell Berry’s writing but I do distinctly remember finding his poem, The Peace of Wild Things at a time of grief in my life. Its reading gave me great comfort and has continued to do so since. I return to it often and feel deeply the way it resonates with my spirit.
For those of you who may not know his writing, Berry is a writer, poet, teacher, farmer, philosopher, activist and more. A thoughtful man who is deeply connected to the land of his family in Kentucky, Berry speaks of the cycles of life large and small and how our actions are inextricably connected and intertwined with its health and the well-being of our shared community.
I think of Berry’s writings of our deep connection to the land often as I look at, sit in and work on my garden; as I see the life that comes to partake of what my garden offers. And I think of his words too when I am in the natural landscapes others are also stewarding on a much larger scale than my own small yard.
Yet I don’t feel that makes our small efforts any less important. In fact, each one adds to the richness of life we can share. A friend of mine, who I worked with several years ago to create a garden that is mostly native, urged me earlier this spring to make sure that whenever I talked about her garden to remember to talk about all the wonderful life that has been attracted to the planting. It is a constant wonder and joy to her to see and share. I understand her love for this.
I sit today and look and watch and feel and smell and listen. In my mind, I add a few new species here and remove a few too many plants there… It is a form of meditation for me I think. I watch two Monarchs flying together. I see an Eastern Swallowtail and – oh my goodness – a Black Swallowtail butterfly. The latter is the first I’ve seen in my yard. I note the finches grazing on the Joe-Pye Weed as the stalks bend with their weight.
I love my garden with all its life and color and messiness! I love sitting in the shade, feeling the breeze and hearing the hummingbird at the feeder just three feet away. I love how the changing light accents first one flower and then another. I love the constantly busy bees and the almost meditative chirping of birds on this simply perfect Saturday afternoon.
Each of our own native gardens, each native plant we add, each stewardship and conservation effort we support in our own way, cares for the earth and helps foster its renewal. May your own garden and your own time in nature give you your own Wendell Berry moment and may you have the opportunity to enjoy it often!
"We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it." - Wendell Berry