Have you ever considered the parallels between earth and the human body? The earth resembles the human body in its complexity and adaptability, responding immediately to the benefits of clean air and water.
They say the eyes are the windows of the soul; and when it comes to the earth, the garden is known as the window of nature.
To know that a gardener holds a special responsibility as both guardian and steward of the environment, perhaps more of us might explore the following thoughtful ways that we too might acquire this title as a way to work mindfully with nature to solve the problem the world faces today.
These days, most of us are aware of the reason the planet is in the state of environmental emergency that it is.
The buildup of gases causing global warming is the result of 250 years of pumping CO2 and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Burning coal, oil, and natural gas in our power plants, motor vehicles, homes, and factories has caused the earth’s average surface temperature to increase.
We all know too, by now, what the obvious solution is: doing our part, on a daily (almost moment-by-moment) basis to significantly reduce pollution.
But another increasingly growing idea is to put a little more weight on the inspiring benefits of gardening, especially if done collectively.
With so much green space in our community up here, it’s energizing to think that our own front yards, side yards, back yards, and now “roof yards” in our community, combined with those around us, could be just the added action needed to make the enormous difference we’ve all been looking (and waiting) for when it comes to improving the health of our planet.
Consider the following 5 ideas (some steps on this list you may discover are the ones less-known and talked about) as a way to possibly do even more to "go green"! (Even better if we can involve kids' energy and work together…)
Action Step #1 Plant lots of trees to absorb carbon dioxide. As all gardeners know, growing plants absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.
As trees grow to maturity, they can absorb and store as much as a ton of CO2, the greenhouse gas primarily responsible for global warming.
If every gardening household planted just one young shade tree in their backyard or community, those trees would absorb around 2.25 million tons of CO2 each year.
That’s just people who consider themselves “gardeners”. How would that number change if all of us made a point to plant just one shade tree in our yard?
Action Step #2. Develop a rain garden. Gardeners can reduce water pollution associated with heavy downpours by developing rain gardens.
Rain gardens capture stormwater runoff and help prevent it from entering local lakes, streams, and coastal waters.
Action Step #3. Incorporate a diversity of native plants into your landscape.
Maintain some of the important connections between pollinators and their hosts and ensure food sources for wildlife by incorporating a diverse range of native blooming and fruiting plants into your garden. For more information, visit: Canadian Wildlife Federation
Action Step #4. Go the extra mile and have your yard recognized by the Canadian Wildlife Federation by certifying your property as a Certified Wildlife Habitat.
As seen on the Canadian Wildlife Federation website:
Official status and personal satisfaction can be gained in being part of a community of Canadians that are helping local and migratory wildlife, including species at risk, right in your own backyard.
- Certified properties can raise awareness in their communities of the importance of gardening with wildlife in mind and that it can be done beautifully - in any gardening style you like.
- Our certification program mirrors nature by including the needs of songbirds, pollinators as well as your other beneficial wild neighbours.
- In certifying properties, we look to see if your outdoor space meets the needs of wildlife. Chances are you already have many of these elements: food, water and shelter in the garden (including one or more native plants to your area) and earth-friendly gardening practices in maintaining it.
While we recognize the benefits of providing artificial nesting and feeding structures, we are also looking for a rounded approach that includes natural features which supports a diversity of wildlife.
The application form will guide you through these different components, but if you’d like more information or great tips and ideas in making it a reality for your property, visit our How to Garden with Wildlife in Mind section.
Kerry Ross, an architect in Calgary has been involved with several green roof projects and is passionate about the concept. Late last summer she was busy putting in plants for the project’s second phase, using a wide range of Alberta native species, including wild strawberries, bearberry, gaillardia, green needle grass, fleabane and golden rod. Pam and Ken Wright from Bow Point Nurseries supplied some of the plants.
Residential projects are less common, but Soprema green roof systems were used on a residential home in south Calgary and Kerry has a test roof of her own in her back yard. Visit her website, Green T Design
Taking Action in Our Communities
1. Connect places for wildlife by certifying your neighborhood as a Community Wildlife Habitat.
By certifying your own backyard and encouraging your neighbors to do the same, you can turn your whole neighborhood into a Community Wildlife Habitat.
A collective habitat can help maintain or reconnect fragmented habitats and provide ways for wildlife to better cope with the impacts of global warming.
2. Participate in citizen science. Another way for you to get involved is to participate in one or more “citizen science” programs across the provice to help provide valuable scientific data to researchers while at the same time gain an opportunity to get closer to nature. Click here fore more information on Alberta Citizen Science.
3. Encourage local home and garden retailers to carry energy-efficient products. You can help increase the availability of energy-efficient garden products, as well as native plants, by encouraging your local home and garden retailers to carry them
CONCLUSION We all have the ability to ensure that the plants, animals, native species, habitats, and other aspects of our natural world can be protected and restored. It is good news to know there are things we can do to positively affect our children’s future and all generations to come.
The Canadian Wildlife Federation is dedicated to providing you with information and inspiration to help you make a difference.
Would you ever consider renting out extra space in your yard to help out a budding gardener? Scroll half way down this page to explore the idea :)