Saturday, August 29, 2015

Research & Write Your Family History -- Online Class

Besides gardening, lots of you know I'm an essayist / poet and have an English PhD; two of my memoirs focus on discovering family history and turning that into a story. This fall I'm teaching a 10 week online class that explores how you can research your own family, what material to look for, how to create a narrative from that information, and the strategies and tools necessary to form it all into effective creative writing. All of the course material -- lectures, links, powerpoints, sample essays, discussions -- will be available a full year after the course ends, so if you can't go along each week you can still do it all later. There's also ample opportunities to work one-on-one with me and others in the class.

Link over for a detailed week-by-week schedule, previous student comments on my teaching, and everything you'll need to know. And please, share this with anyone and everyone. I mean, wouldn't this make a fantastic holiday gift, a project to share with family? Huh?

Friday, August 21, 2015

A Moment

I'm standing behind a hedge of indian grass watching a monarch lift from a Liatris that has sprouted among the tallgrass. The west wind pushes against my back, whips milkweed seeds into the air that race past me then up out of the garden. I still haven't moved a muscle when a white-lined sphinx moth comes, dabbles on a few blooms over the course of half a second, darts to within a few inches of my ear, hovers, drones in its spiked, low pitch like someone whispering in a crowded room, then is gone. I keep listening to the memory, but as the moment fades I'm less certain of what was said and to whom.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Front Yard Prairie Coming In, Seeding the Back

A few images of what's been going on at the homestead this month.

No filter on this morning scene.
Black chokeberry is stunning.
August is a very yellow month.
Wild senna with bumble bee. They LOVE these flowers.
I've started tossing seed in the back lawn, trying to do it in waves and drifts.
A good year for milkweed bugs.
Back under the arbor.
Sometimes sideoats grama and rudbeckia is enough.
The front is coming in, though those shrubs are a problem.
Little bluestem is a workhorse!
Not as many monarchs this year.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Clearing the Air -- Ethics, Native Plants, Climate Change

Several times over the last few months I've had someone, most gently and kindly, message me about my ideas and beliefs related to native plants and gardening. I am thankful for this. I have known for some time that landscape designers, specifically, have felt unsettled by me and seen me in a most negative light. I'm hoping that through this post -- and opening up to some perspectives I've tried to keep hidden for fear of reprisal -- I might generate a discussion that helps us think more deeply about our role on a quickly-changing planet.

I suppose the primary response to my advocating for near 100% native landscapes, especially when I talk ethically about it and in light of climate change and mass extinctions, is one of anger from a diverse set of folks, particularly when I let my passion and urgency deliver the content of my thoughts (we all do this -- go visit any social media site). When I ask for us to design 100% native landscapes because wildlife depends on it, I'm not being frivolous in my hopes or dreams because we must strive for the best to get to the good. Countless studies show the connections -- the literal lifelines -- between insect species and native plants, birds too. When we alter a landscape so drastically for whatever reason then life disappears; this seems like an ethical dilemma to me. When we deny life cycles and ecological function, this seems unethical to me -- it's like telling a person they can't reproduce, it's like sexism or racism.

Native plants aren't limiting, but limitless for so many organisms.

When we totally privilege our own aesthetic desires and practical needs over those of other species, I don't believe it's a good thing -- I think it's a very myopic thing, a very narrow vision, perhaps natural for humans (in fact, lots of studies show it IS natural on a genetic level, as we are hardwired for survival at any cost). Such thinking spills over into how we treat each other, often poorly. Luckily, we're making strides with marriage equality and wildlife conservation, just as we are with landscape management and discussing social inequality.

It is easy to feel attacked when someone presents an opposing and vocal (even confident) viewpoint, which is in a way what I hope I'm doing -- I am trying to start a conversation, shake the walls and rock the boat, while also taking ownership of what I'm saying; I'm asking us to look deeper at the ramifications of how we garden every single minute. If you want to plant a lilac among bluestem and aster, do it, but be aware that the liliac may not have as much wildlife value. I don't believe asking us to think like this is an attack or a condementation, or should be interpreted as proselytizing -- often, name calling or labeling (extremist, radical, purist) can be a defense mechanism, an act of denial which is also one of the necessary steps to dealing with grief. I do believe asking us to think in this more out-of-the-box way, to make a conscious decision about our plant choices, is a good thing. I'm not saying you should feel guilty for planting a lilac, even if you might over time (I have), I'm saying you should be well aware of what it means to plant a lilac where you are.

Besides, guilt does not have to be a bad emotion -- just like anger doesn't have to be. These are natural and primal steps in overcoming grief, and surely as we realize more and more the effects our species has on the planet, then grief, anger, and guilt will play integral rolls in reshaping how we interact with life and what rolls we will play as stewards through gardening, through what we purchase, to how far we drive, to what we eat, to how we love, etc.

So when I say designing landscapes with native plants is an ethical issue, I am not trying to talk down to anyone; I am trying to get us to think more critically, deeply, and honestly about how our plant choices impact other lives, and in turn, our own lives down the road since a biologically rich, diverse, and redundant planet means an easier life for us. The more we understand how the world works biologically, the more we will be a part of it -- and I believe, the happier and more peaceful we'll be. But it's not an easy road.

So to that end, let me say something I've tried not saying for many years -- at least not directly -- because I've been totally afraid to say it.

I am disturbed by the mainstream plant industry. I am disturbed with how we alter and grow plants for our own aesthetic desires, changing plants on levels we maybe don't fully understand. What happens when we change the leaf or bloom color, or when bloom sizes are altered? What nectar, pollen, or leaf chemistry changes? How does this effect wildlife? Which wildlife? Where? How does this effect hybridizing with communitites of nearby wild plants? How does it effect soil life? And so much more.

These questions are not a blanket attack or condemnation of the horticultural industry -- they are, I think, very important questions to ask about our species and how we manage the planet, addressing if something needs to be changed about the way we grow and produce plants. We have these same conversations about industrial agriculture, precious metals sourced for disposable cell phones in 3rd world countries, island nations flooded by rising oceans.

I know, gardening is simply supposed to be fun and therapeutic, light and carefree, and these thoughts disturb that romantic ideal. And I know, my "critical" thinking sometimes comes off not as "what if we looked at it differently, I wonder about this, I wonder about that" but instead as "you suck more than a tricked-out Dyson." I think by pondering the above and struggling with these thoughts, we can gain a deeper joy while gardening -- the more we know, the more we think, the more we question and seek to understand, the better gardeners and landscape designers we'll be. Confronting our worst selves in the garden also means confronting our best selves, as it is any aspect of life -- we're complicated like that. Which path will we choose? And how?

It behooves us, in a time of mass extinctions that we have caused, not to turn away from our impact on the planet but to turn forcefully into that strong wind and create a better world. It will be hard to turn into that wind, harder than anything we've ever done. I believe every single plant in our landscape matters -- both from a practical / aesthetic viewpoint as well as metaphorical or metaphysical viewpoints; an aster might save a bee's life, a lilac might not. A milkweed might open the door to seeing how our plants interact with a great variety of interdependent wildlife, a hosta may not. You may certainly plant a hosta or lilac, but it might be closing a door to our world that we won't ever realize (this door closed over just a few decades with the 99% eradication of tallgrass prairie). Questioning and perturbing and thinking is not bad or negative, it's how progress is made -- it's how we learn, you and me both.

These are my ideas. These are my opinions. These are my feelings here on this blog. Yours may be different. You may wish I had said it all in another way or had not said anything at all. But this is one of the most important conversations we should be having right now and ARE having -- as landscape designers, as gardeners, and as humans. Everything is connected, beautifully and wondrously so. Here's to a brighter future even as we struggle so mightily for it.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Pollan's Nativism Needs a Major Refresh

I recently reread Michael Pollan's 1994 essay "Against Nativism." In it he argues against a loud minority (a minority I float in and out of freely depending on the topic) who, according to him, believes the following:

A vocal army of designers and taste makers has decreed that the “new American garden” is henceforth a place that:
1. Outlaws any human artifice in its design;
2. Grants citizenship exclusively to native plants (any immigrant to be treated as “flora non grata,” with “invasive aliens” subject to deportation);
3. Resembles as closely as possible the “presettlement” American landscape of its particular region; and
4. Guarantees the right of self-determination to all its flora and (nonhuman) fauna, and bans the “brutal” practice of pruning.

This list could not be more out of date. Maybe two decades ago, when the native plant movement was certainly in its infancy -- and as wildly disparate viewpoints from all over the place were being expressed as it tried to find its footing -- it seemed more "radical." There are plenty of folks who find my belief in the wildlife value and design potential of straight species native plants radical and limiting, and particularly my philosophical and ethical reasons for doing so in a time of climate change and extinctions, but the design of native plant landscapes is not as rigid -- and should not be -- as Pollan assumes. Let's go through each point:

1. You can't avoid human artifice in design. The very act of creating a garden is artifice. Once you arrange plants according to your aesthetic and / or site requirements (the latter is often quite different than a wild, natural site), artifice is the name of the game. Naturalistic garden designers (or New Perennial or New American) try to blend human needs with environmental and wildlife needs, echoing and evoking that natural landscape which the plants came from. But even I don't believe we can have prairie in the city in the way it exists on the Plains; I do think we could replace lawns and seed in prairie for some cool habitat and effect, but that prairie would exist, work, and be managed much differently than one outside the city limits. 

2. Yes, I design with as close to 100% native plants as I can, and I believe we should all strive for this goal. Wildlife has co-evolved with those plants, the plants call us out into the wilds of our home places and connect / awaken us to the place we supposedly love and respect, and we do not know better than nature. I believe a hosta or daylily or lilac and even butterfly bush are dead zones for wildlife, especially pollinators, and deny life instead of providing it. But I'm not going to personally condemn someone for having these plants if the majority of the remaining landscape is in native plants -- even if I'd love to see the remaining landscape fully used by natives for maximum benefit. We have to have an ideal goal in mind, a reach that outstretches our grasp by miles, to get to an even better place; if the goal or reach is only halfway, then the reality will be even less then it could be.

3. Once again, a designed garden is an evocation and an interpretation. It may use the same plants as presettlement / annihilation / eradication -- it may even copy the plant communities in ecological design -- but it can almost never be the exact landscape that was lost. The reasons for that are complex, starting with the loss of soil life, urban pollution and heat island effects, all the way to having to create landscapes that function for people as well as wildlife in an almost infinite array of configurations, from parks to hellstrips, to suburban yards to road edges to businesses, and to storm water mitigation and treatment.

4. In a human landscape you have to prune woody plants -- from reasons involving safety to design. I do advocate letting perennials self sow, letting plants move around a bit to find their way and teach us about what they want and how they act. A garden is not a static sculpture, it is alive and evolving, rich with the chaos of fractal geometry which helps it evolve, grow, and exercise itself in a web of life. We are free to pluck seedlings if we wish, or move them about -- it is a garden, after all, not a "wild" prairie or forest.

There are many other points I could argue, especially Pollan's idea that plants move around naturally, so who cares if exotics mix with natives (yet never before have they moved so quickly and thoroughly as during the last century or two, and never before with such blindness and narrow-minded purpose / hubris as to the effects that such movement causes).  Pollan wants multihorticlturalism, but shockingly in that view Pollan is part and parcel of the system that has severely diminished biodiversity, leapt without thinking or knowing, and works primarily to seek immediate human good first and everything else second -- even if everything else contributes to our long term good. For someone so aware of the agricultural issues of our culture, it's a surprise and a travesty. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Oh, Prairie Flowers!

Two weeks ago I read from my Oklahoma memoir at the Iowa Prairie Conference, along with John Price, Mary Swander, and Elizabeth Dodd (what fun people and great writers!). I was able to tour plantings the Tallgrass Prairie Center is working on at the UNI campus, as well as their production plots and cool seed cleaning room. Then I visited my folks in Minnesota and their 2-3 acres of prairie restoration -- following is some of what I found in the land of 14,000 lakes (for more, follow me on Instagram:

Monarda, Verbena, Ratibida, Bluestem
Grey-Headed Coneflower
The sunsets were pretty good.
How many monarchs do you see?
Sweet joe pye weed.
Oh, those sunsets.
Did I mention the sunsets?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Happy Birthday to Me and the Garden -- 2015

It's my annual navel gazing day. The garden is 8 and I am, well, much older than it. I want to start with an excerpt from my unpublished memoir, Turkey Red, which I rediscovered this week, then share pics (in collage format to save space -- click on them to embiggen):

There’s an emptiness in the Plains. It’s not a literal emptiness because it is our absence which is most present. And yet our existence has redefined the absence: you can get lost in a corn field, lay down in the wheat and just vanish—no one will ever find you.

It’s a dangerous thing being lost to the horizon. Walking any open field we are both compass point and sun dial, searching for home in the time allotted us on this earth. At most we will discover that while alive we’re as ethereal as a memory. Cross paths with a mountain lion or sandhill crane or butterfly or prairie dog and we will know the silence we carry inside, the silence we insist upon field after field. There’s nothing here because we made it so. Our absence is present in the rows stretching to infinity off the highways and county roads.

But stop. A dung beetle is moving from shadow to shadow underneath the sunflowers, pushing its brown marble over pebbles, past cracks, and through thick brush. When I was a kid I’d sit near an ant hill—the inverse funnel pushing out ants like a great heart pumping blood. Each body scatters in every direction, following the marked trails out beyond the center of their lives. Can you imagine being an ant or a dung beetle? Can you imagine? You have never been anything else, following the narrow path laid out for you, but pushing your burdens before you like they were the only treasure you’d ever had. When we enter the earth from another perspective we become our truest selves—we give up the right to take away other lives and enter into an unwritten contract that we signed at our births. We are here, made of the same stuff as everything else. We are here for only a moment, too, already absent in our presence until we go mad with the terror of our short lives and break the contract. The only way to rewrite ourselves is to walk the horizon until the prairie comes back. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Listening to an Oklahoma Windmill

This weekend my great aunt passed away, the youngest of a large family where only two sisters remain. I will be forever indebted to her for her memories as I researched a memoir on Oklahoma -- though with fewer experiences being the youngest, it was in a lot of ways her voice and thoughts that got me the closest to my grandmother and her early life. Exploring Oklahoma as an estranged adult -- someone who once hated the state and whose heart sank crossing the Kansas border -- I never asked my grandmother the questions I most needed answered (the questions I only began to come to in her last months through a cache of photographs). 

My journey into Oklahoma and the prairie, Mennonites and Cheyenne and oil and manifest destiny, is far from over -- yet the people who can make that journey richer are all but gone. So many little stories from one moment to the next in our lives, and 99.9% of it is erased seconds later, the truth hazier and less true with each breath. 

The story I will most remember is driving the backroads of red-dirt wheat fields in the fall of 2009. My great aunt said that, while growing up, you could know whose farm you were on by the sound of the windmill; that on still nights she could not fall asleep, only able to drift off once the breeze picked up and the windmill began turning, creaking. Moments later she told me the low German Mennonite words for "chicken shit." Listen to the windmills in your life -- but don't fall asleep, stay awake, strain to hear the pattern, live harder in a place for every second you can.

Marjorie Janzen Heinrichs on the left.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Befriending Our Pain, Having Courage, Loving the World

Joanna Macy continues to blow my mind, saying things I've been trying to say but doing so out of more patience, wisdom, forgiveness, and lived life.

"We need to befriend our pain about the condition of the world, and not treat that feeling as an enemy to our cheerfulness... Tell me your despair and I'll tell you mine... and the world becomes more vivid... because we had the courage, the strength to speak of our despair... because we speak it we don't stay there.... despair is the covering for the love of our world [that we need to crack].... don't be afraid of pain or the world's suffering... and if you aren't afraid of it then nothing can stop you." Full vid here.

I have long been angry with those who tell me to be happy, or look at the happy side of things, as if pain is not as worthy an emotion, as if it also does not open doors to happiness -- perhaps in some ways a more profound and connected happiness than the somewhat antiseptic version our American myths push on us (consumerism and possession for one). 

Certainly, I'm not making light of those who struggle with real depression and succumb to it, but I am saying that for the majority of us pain, anger, and despair let us know we are alive and that we care -- these "negative" feelings alert us to something that is wrong and open the door to compassion for all life. The bonds we break, the emotions we ignore, divorce us from the awesome beauty and connectivity of life on this rare world.  Be angry about oil pipelines and prairie destruction. Be forlorn about the loss of pollinators and coral reefs. Be so sad you know this world from every angle and can, on the flip side, make a profound difference and heal. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

And Justice For All Species

Now that we're starting to see more social justice and equality, let's keep the ball rolling. Our next big task is environmental justice, not just the fact that climate change will adversely impact the poor, but that it will decimate (and is decimating) entire ecosystems and species. When we can hold bees and birds in our hands and be transformed by the miracle of compassion that touch brings, when we can be transformed by the same between two men or two women, then it is not a far step to extend our compassion to all creatures on this rare and glorious planet. We are all equal, all key components in a rich web of hope, compassion, and freedom. Stand up for each other. Fight for equality and the right for all to live out their lives as they're designed to do.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Some Prairie

I was at The Nature Conservancy's Platte River Prairies field day on Friday; it was almost picture perfect with good temps and passing clouds with blue sky (after some light rain in the morning). Lot's of trips out into the prairie to see birds, insects, fish, amphibians, learn about restoration efforts, and to hear moi discussing prairie loss and how thoughtfully-designed gardens can help pollinators and bring some of the prairie home. So, just a few images I took with the phone (I'm getting in the nasty habit of not bringing real cameras with me):

Verbena stricta

A native annual barley

Common milkweed with sun hitting the prairie sand dunes

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Busy Bees in Tall Stems

This is the first year I left "unsightly" stems very high in my garden during the late April cut down. Common advice says to cut things down to about 6", but that erases possible homes for our many native bees. With 2' stems all over the place, and all covered by dense garden foliage, I can hear the garden as bees pulse and buzz in stems all over the place.

Do you see any stems in this image? I guarantee that you can hear them, though (if the lawnmowers ever stop).

Friday, June 19, 2015

Pollinators & Garden Beauty

Earlier this month the Lincoln Journal Star published an editorial on pollinators -- the issues surrounding their decline, especially here in Nebraska. The focus was on honey bees, so I had to send in a reply which won't be published, but I leave here for you to read. Look for a longer piece in a future issue of Prairie Fire.

I applaud the Journal Star editorial board for continuing to bring attention to the plight of our pollinating insects, and especially the loss of prairie which has only been exacerbated with the decrease in CRP funding associated with the most recent farm bill. We also need to stop mowing our highway edges more than 1-2 times a year, and plant native pollinator gardens at home, at businesses, and even on capitol grounds. 

However, European honey bees are responsible for so much commercial pollination because we’ve made that the case. It takes 60% of all U.S. hives to pollinate just the almond crop in California, and the stress of shipping them across the country surely exacerbates their troubles, as well as the lack of diverse flower forage. This agricultural practice is a dangerous monoculture that supports other dangerous monocultures, systems which diminish diversity and a landscape’s health and resiliency. Yes, helping honey bees will help so much more, especially if this means fewer lawns and more prairies, but we have 4,000 native bee species, too.

These native bees are, collectively, over 90% efficient at flower pollination whereas honey bees are only 70% efficient. Many native bees have evolved very specific relationships with native plants – in some cases, the absence of one leads to the absence of the other. The more bees of all species we have pollinating, the higher the fruit yield, the better the quality, and the longer the shelf life at grocery stores (I’m especially thinking about produce like strawberries that require a diversity of pollinators to set fruit). 

The Xerces Society has recently begun a pilot program on about 100 acres of almond groves in California, planting the edges with native hedgerows and underplanting the trees in a meadow of wildlfowers – the goal is to end the dependence on honey bees, reduce water consumption, and mitigate the need to spray for pests. We should also look to the Prairie STRIPs program at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. 

Here in Nebraska, and Lincoln specifically, I’d love to see us become the prairie capitol of the nation: prairie along road edges following the lead of New Mexico and Iowa, native plants in our garden beds and in the new pedestrian mall downtown, and one side of the state building in designed prairie gardens vs. a desert of lawn. Our lives, and the lives of other species, may depend upon a new landscape aesthetic that incorporates both human concepts of beauty and unseen ecological function that supports native bees, monarch butterflies, and far more; what we need is a beauty that extends to species beyond our own.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Art of Selfless Garden Design

After reading this article on the moral imperative of renewable energy, and being fueled by the Pope's call to ethical rethinking of nature -- I feel lots of momentum regarding how we interact with nature on personal, emotional, cultural, scientific, and ethical levels; it's as if everything is coming together! Here are my thoughts.

I think there’s a myth out there that good garden design for humans can not also be good garden design for other species (and other humans, in the case of filtering groundwater, cleaning the air, etc). It’s not an either or proposition.

Speaking in generalizations, garden designers, to me, feel beholden to a function and a style that comes from another time and another country; maybe it’s 1700s England or 1600s France. An outdoor space isn’t just a room to relax in, to escape to, to express our status -- it is a bridge between the world we hold at bay in almost every moment and our incomplete selves that hunger for contact with nature. This is where the theory of biophilia comes in – that we have an innate need to connect with the living world around us. Do gardens that inhibit other lives and biological functions fill that need? 

We gain completeness through experience and knowledge. When I began learning about native plants I felt more in control of my garden-making process – I wasn’t picking up any old thing at a nursery, letting current trends or tired choices (hello, hosta) be my guiding light; no, I was beginning to understand how plants interact with the world, how they are part of a larger system, not just a cog in the wheel but integral fibers of muscle and tissue. When I realized I could be a part of that fiber by how I gardened and what I learned through more informed plant choices, I was generally happier, more confident, and more passionate about life than in any other point of my short existence. I fully realized my garden mattered as much to me as it did to bees – that collectively all of our gardens mattered so very much.  

Gardening is therapy? Yes, but not just in the sense of walking through a flowering meadow or dipping toes into a babbling creek to calm our nerves ; gardening is therapy in the sense that it circumvents the cultural systems we’ve made up that say there’s a hierarchy, a certain way to do things, universal beliefs that are tried and true. Gardening shatters the wall between rich and poor, gay and straight, black and white, human and monarch butterfly. Maybe gardening is for radicals in the sense that when we become empowered advocates who study, observe, and nurture open curiosity, we challenge the exploitative systems that hurt our world and ourselves.

Designed landscapes can be for us – utilitarian in their sidewalks and fruiting trees, gorgeous in their flowers and foliage – but there’s no reason in the world that at the same time they can’t be places for birds to raise their young, butterflies to lay eggs, bees to forage for nests, and soil life to flourish. To think that gardens are just for us is self-defeating and selfish, and is simply a lack of imagination; I even believe it’s an inability to extend our ethical circles in some really cool ways that would enlighten and heal many of our cultural and social problems. If nature calms us, if nature helps us recover from illness faster, if nature eases ADHD, why can’t gardens also help us see through another’s eyes, champion equal rights and equal pay, become the people we dream ourselves to be in our best moments (like those stories that end every news broadcast).

A designed landscape that does not see beyond the human is a landscape that is devoid of the human – it’s devoid of forgiveness, mercy, hope, equality, and community. 

Human art is an attempt to express the inexpressible, a way to bridge how we interpret the world emotionally, how we internalize and experience life, what we value in our most authentic moments of reflection and connection. Plants themselves are not art. What we do with them -- how we honor their life processes in a garden -- that's art.

Prairie smoke doing its thing.
“Lilacs disconnect one’s yard from the prairie that is around and so disconnect our lives from reckoning with the real wonders of the grassland. The Nebraska plain is not barren, after all.”
-- Richard Manning

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Quote of the Century

I will never apologize. You shouldn't either. Feel.

"We are capable of suffering with our world, and that is the true meaning of compassion. It enables us to recognize our profound interconnectedness with all beings. Don't ever apologize for crying for the trees burning in the Amazon or over the waters polluted from mines in the Rockies. Don't apologize for the sorrow, grief, and rage you feel. It is a measure of your humanity and your maturity. It is a measure of your open heart, and as your heart breaks open there will be room for the world to heal. That is what is happening as we see people honestly confronting the sorrows of our time." — Joanna Macy

Sunday, June 7, 2015

A Very Wet Spring

I think we're up to about 14" of rain in the last 5 weeks. The front prairie garden -- composed off 100% drought tolerant natives -- is languishing. Out back things are thick, lush, and breeding mosquitoes by the truck load. Chiggers will be next. Still, there are reasons to celebrate.

Arrowwood viburnum and indian grass

Shell leaf penstemon

Baptisia autralis minor

The front beds. A soggy mess with mulch floating away.

Pasque flower seed heads. Better than blooms.

Leave those cut plant stems high! Many native bees buzzing in and out.

My wife's PhD graduation gift. Can't believe it's been a year.

And I leave you with this thought:

“Lilacs disconnect one’s yard from the prairie that is around and so disconnect our lives from reckoning with the real wonders of the grassland. The Nebraska plain is not barren, after all.”
-- Richard Manning