Gardening is a lot like digging a hole and putting money in the ground, only more visually rewarding. Five years ago this Sunday we moved into our current home. Our girls had one request for the new place: a tree large enough for a swing. They were too young to have the foresight to request separate bedrooms to hunker down in for the teenage years. Our Realtor was very gracious as I eliminated homes with just a quick peek in the backyard. “No tree,” I would say exiting out the front door.
We got the tree for the swing along with two for a zipline, one out front for climbing and a quite a few for fort building. What we didn’t bargain for was a wooded area infested with the dreaded invasive buckthorn. It is probably a good thing I didn’t know about the labor and expense of buckthorn removal when we moved in. I doubt I would have signed on for the task. Until the leaves filled in later that spring, we did not realize that the edge of the woods was an impenetrable wall of brush. Now, I can spot buckthorn while driving down the road at 60 miles an hour and have learned a bit about removing it. Mostly I learned that it is backbreaking, never-ending toil probably best left to professionals.
Five years later we still have some work to do, primarily managing the new sprouts that will inevitably cover the ground in June. We will hopefully be replacing some worn out shrubs in the front with native ones. The new shrubs will make native species number 29 and 30 as we work toward our goal of 30 to apply for the Lake County Conservation at Home award. We’ve also planted a number of native perennials which are attracting birds, nurturing beneficial insects like the praying mantises, and just generally looking pretty. We love sitting on our porch listening for the owls (screech and an occasional big horned), watching the swarming dragonflies, being startled by the cry of coyotes, amused by the deer that lay down in our daughter’s junk ridden fort, and hearing the melodious frog song of spring.
So, although we are not finished, there are positive signs that we are making our property a more healthy place for plants and animals. Just today, I found the largest patch of trillium I have seen on our property. It grew there all on its very own without me digging a hole! Seems that we might be beating back the bad plant guys after all and allowing nature to demonstrate resiliency. I am excited for spring, for gardening and for the opportunity to dig a few more holes to improve our little corner of the world.