A New Era in Gardening

by Jeanne Grandy
~Excerpt from the April 2021 Holliston Garden Club newsletter

It used to be that a young couple buying their first home would re-decorate the inside to their taste and needs, then pretty up the outside with pots of flowers until more creative yard work could be afforded. After too many months of Covid keeping people indoors, more established homeowners have been re-thinking the view from inside the house. Whether new or more established, whether walking in the neighborhood or just looking out the window, homeowners have come to realize the value of nature to restore us humans, physically and mentally. As importantly, we are realizing that our own properties can contribute not only to our well-being but to the beauty of the neighborhood and better health for all.

There is a growing awareness that each of us is part of the larger biosphere of all creatures that call this earth planet “home.” Scientists are telling us it is more than time to pay attention to our role – in even what feels like an insignificant way – playing a part in improving the health of all of us by planting native trees, shrubs, and flowers to attract and support wild life.

Holliston is in a region of the Northeast where trees are considered “old-growth” (about a 100 years) forests, the ”original” ones having been felled for building houses, fences, and shipbuilding; and cleared for farming.  Some of these trees are now being taken down for new housing; others, being removed after recent storm damage.  Still others need to be removed due to death and risk associated with the invasion of non-native insects.  As a Town and as property owners, scientists and environmentalists are making us aware that trees, shrubs, and flowers now have to support life by sequestering carbon, feeding pollinators, and managing water, a tall order but one we can do together.  For example, century-old Oaks and other natives help mitigate down-hill water run-off with their deep roots, so paying attention to how we care for them matters! Moreover, native trees  such as oaks, willows, cherries, and birches attract what are now considered “essential keystone wildlife species.”

Which trees to plant means doing some research as to soil and sun requirements, and awareness of its size at maturity. Good resources to check out include the following: the Native Plant Trust, the National Wildlife Federation’s Native Plant Finder, and the Homegrown National Park website. Author and entomologist, Douglas W. Tallamy, is quoted as saying: “trees are the true heroes of the new ecology.”

For its part, the Holliston Garden Club is shifting its focus slightly this year from planting a tree for Arbor Day to educating ourselves and the community on the care, maintenance, and value of our trees in Holliston on public or private lands; and encouraging participation in the efforts to both beautify and improve health, for our environment and our community by planting natives. Check our website: www.hollistongardenclub.org for information about Club activities and Zoom events for your participation.