Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Green The Grounds for Earth Day

Copyright © 2007-2009. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

Most gardeners I've met are fairly environmentally conscious. This follows our chosen hobby naturally since we deal so closely with plants, soil, weather patterns and the animals that interact with our gardens. Susan Harris at Garden Rant is one of those special gardeners who cares about the environment; managing to inspire other garden bloggers involvement as well by creating Green The Thanks Susan!

Recently the First Family started an Organic Victory Garden at the White House. This was exciting news. I continue to hope that the media attention will influence others to learn more about gardening without herbicides and pesticides. A world where more people start their very own Organic Victory Gardens seems like a much better place to me.

Hopefully, the Obama's Organic Victory Garden at the White House is only the first step. Green The Grounds is "encouraging the First Families -- in the White House and governors' mansions -- to adopt more sustainable landscaping practices."

One fine example of public lands being use for the good of the community is the huge Organic Victory Garden in front of San Francisco's City Hall...

While Victory Gardens are cool and certainly have their place, I would also love to see more native plants added to the First Families' grounds. Native plants need less water, feeding and overall maintenance. It would be terrific if plants were included in these public gardens that would attract birds, butterflies and other animals. Adding permanent, naturalized water features would benefit native wildlife and be a pleasant focal point for visitors to the mansions as well. If I had my wish each governor's mansion garden would be a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat. Well, I can dream, can't I?

Unfortunately, the Texas Governor's Mansion suffered a fire in June 8, 2008. At the present time they are focused on restoring the building to its former glory. Recently there was even a suggestion to make the Pease Mansion the new Texas Governor's Mansion. Hopefully once the mansion's problems have been resolved there will be more time and energy to concentrate on its gardens.

In the meantime we can all try to make our own gardens as green and environmentally friendly as possible. I try to limit my use of biocides on my property, though I admit I used Roundup on a tenacious section of poison ivy when we first moved here. But by using organic gardening methods and including food, water and cover for wildlife, almost any garden can make the most of its environmental potential. Mine is still a work in progress...

"I value my garden more for being full of blackbirds than of cherries, and very frankly give them fruit for their songs." –Joseph Addison

Copyright © 2007-2009. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.


susan harris said...

Terrific post, and thanks for your support for the cause! Looks like Texas won't be added to the "green examples" anytime soon, though - at least its governor's mansion grounds.
Hey, are you coming to Chicago next month?

Dawn said...

Thanks Susan,The Chicago Spring Fling sounds so delightful, I'd love to come. Unfortunately, I will miss attending this year since we're having guests that week. I look forward to reading about all the fun though.

As for Texas: what our governor's mansion lacks at the moment in sustainable landscape inspiration, The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center makes up for.


Annie in Austin said...

Hi Dawn - nice Earth Day post!

I heard about the proposal to use the Pease Mansion as the residence while turning the old Governer's mansion into a museum. It sounds quite interesting. Another news story said that Bob Bullock is the one who came up with that idea years and years ago. It was his pet project (back then the mansion belonged to UT & the State, I think) but that no one else picked up the idea when BB died. The mansion was sold & the new owner supposedly spent a fortune restoring it and is not interested in selling it.

When I related the news story to my husband, he considered the basic fallacy the idea that governers had to live in mansions.

I like your idea to include native plants and some water sources for birds and butterflies in the landscape plans ;-]

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

mss @ Zanthan Gardens said...

I liked your embedded vids, except for the slur on Thomas Jefferson's character. He was an avid farmer before he reaped anything John Adams might have sown. Jefferson envisioned a nation of farmers schooled in the most efficient and scientific techniques in what we would come to know as Agricultural Colleges. Many times while serving as president he'd write home to his daughter, worrying over his garden, leaving copious instructions, and planning what he'd do in the garden when he was done serving his country.

Dawn said...

Thanks Annie,I hadn't heard the story about Bob Bullock and the mansion. It will be interesting to see what they decide to do. $27 million (I think I'd read that number somewhere) is a whole lot of money for restoration, but the house is an historical property, so it's good that they are trying to save it regardless, IMO.

I think your husband has a point. Why do our governors live in mansions? I did a little search and discovered that all governors' residences are not necessarily called mansions, but they are still usually huge houses. A mansion by any other name...etc.

Hi MSS,Yes, I noticed that bit about Jefferson. Rather unfair, I agree. There is a great documentary about Thomas Jefferson's life by Ken Burns: I believe I watched it via Netflix. It was very good; showing what a brilliant man he really was.


A wildlife gardener said...

What a great post, Dawn, full of hope and inspiration - and a part of American history, of which I knew nothing :)

I found both the videos exciting, because of the example they set and the message of encouragement they are giving out :)

We can all do our little bit, no matter how humble our patch of ground/window-sill pots or containers. I grow all my salad crops, and some herbs, in pots, outside the back door, next to my kitchen :)

I also have a strawberry patch and grow raspberry canes in deep pots. Every little bite on our plates seems tastier, having been home-grown :)

Thanks for such a wonderful post with videos as well as photos. Your enthusiasm comes across loud and clear..and we all benefit from encouragement like yours :)

Diana said...

Wonderful Earth Day post, Dawn. And there is hope for the country, even if Texas sometimes lags behind in some ways. At least we have the Wildflower Center and lots of eager bloggers like you to spread the word!

Frances said...

Hi Dawn, we can all keep dreaming that the powers that be get the message about how easy and fulfilling it is to let nature take its own course with the native plants and wildlife. It really is easier, they only need to be retrained in their thinking. The petroleum industry has had their way with us for too long. Let us get back to the garden!

Esther Montgomery said...

Hello Dawn, thanks for the Blotanical Fave!

There's something missing on my computer so I can't look at your video clips at present . . . however, about the Whitehouse Garden . . . I too signed the petition for vegetables to be grown on the lawn. (I don't live in the U.S.A. but, you never know, the idea might spread. I believe there is a little garden behind Downing Street!) . . .

When I saw the planned layout, I was surprised how many lettuces they will be growing. Why so many lettuces? . . .

'Victory' Gardens . . . I know this is a term in common use but I do feel very uncomfortable with it. What do you think?

Esther Montgomery
Esther's Boring Garden Blog

Raffi said...

Hi Dawn, this is more of a message directly to you, not a comment.

I don't know if you have seen yet - but it's like a Wikipedia just for Gardeners in concept. I think the link would be quite useful for your visitors, and hope you agree. I also just created some coding that allows you to put a search box on your site, so that your visitors can search the plant database. If you're interested in that idea, please check out

Again, I hope you like the site and see the value in having a wiki just for gardening. It will thrive with more visitors, so I hope you find it a worthwhile cause.