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"A Weed Is But An Unloved Flower"

Each time I approach the walk to my mother's home, I stop to study the lawn just outside of her house. Tucked under the shade of large white oaks and nestled by half-century old camellias and azaleas, her once-groomed lawn has faded into a menagerie of weeds. At least, these small plants are what most of us would call weeds, but, I hasten to add, they are beautiful weeds. Broadleaf and narrow leaf grasses, mosses, violets, small ferns, and everything in between, this area of shade loving plants is a study in shades of green. The effect is so soft, so lacy, that I have to wonder just how we as a nation became so enthralled by having a solid green mass of lawn.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Remembering the small lawns that I saw in England years ago, many had sprinklings of wildflowers in their prideful gardens, and the effect was magical. Recently, driving along our more country roads and studying less urban home sites in Columbia, I noticed large stands of dandelions throughout some yards in the morning light. They were beautiful. Once these plants are mowed before turning to seed, the yard (a.k.a. lawn) will still be green, as will most of the other weeds that populated that lawn. Yes, some weeds die as they reach the end their life cycle, leaving some brown or bare areas, but don't our hybrid grasses do the same thing-often without explanation? Then, out come the herbicides, fertilizers, pesticides in an effort to find the answer.

Many of us grew up in the country where lawns were made of whatever grew in the soil. We mowed once a week if we had rain, and we relished in the sweet perfume of all of the cut greens, including wild onions. We did not use herbicides or precious resources to force one particular kind of plant to grow. Last year, one family member suggested that we try to sod Mom's shady areas with a shade loving grass. I'm happy to report that that idea was voted down by my siblings. Our little magical area is still thriving.

Richland Library has some books on natural lawns. No surprise there; we have so many wonderful resources on amazingly varied topics, but I am surprised to see the publication dates for books on this topic as far back as 1993. I'm sure there are local ordinances to be aware of in some areas, if you consider having such a natural lawn, but obviously, this is not a new idea. With the current concerns for saving resources, reducing pollution, saving wildlife habitats, and living "greener," this very well be an idea whose time has come.


Amazon Says: Gardening can be a political act. Creativity, fulfillment, connection, revolution—it all begins when we get our hands in the dirt. Food Not Lawns combines practical wisdom o more...
Amazon Says: Gardening can be a political act. Creativity, fulfillment, connection, revolution—it all begins when we get our hands in the dirt. Food Not Lawns combines practical wisdom on ecological design and community-building with a fresh, green perspective on an age-old subject. Activist and urban gardener Heather Flores shares her nine-step permaculture design to help farmsteaders and city dwellers alike build fertile soil, promote biodiversity, and increase natural habitat in their own "paradise gardens." But Food Not Lawns doesn't begin and end in the seed bed. This joyful permaculture lifestyle manual inspires readers to apply the principles of the paradise garden—simplicity, resourcefulness, creativity, mindfulness, and community—to all aspects of life. Plant "guerilla gardens" in barren intersections and medians; organize community meals; start a street theater troupe or host a local art swap; free your kitchen from refrigeration and enjoy truly fresh, nourishing foods from your own plot of land; work with children to create garden play spaces. Flores cares passionately about the damaged state of our environment and the ills of our throwaway society. In Food Not Lawns, she shows us how to reclaim the earth one garden at a time. less...
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Amazon Says: A delightful book that encourages gardeners to pay closer attention to the subtle beauty of miniature landscapes and introduces one of the glories of Japanese gardens into Am more...
Amazon Says: A delightful book that encourages gardeners to pay closer attention to the subtle beauty of miniature landscapes and introduces one of the glories of Japanese gardens into American designs. The author writes entertainingly of mosses on rocks and walls, in containers, and as a lush ground cover, and he presents a gallery of his favorite moss species. less...
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Amazon Says: A series of beautiful, concise guides for growing and propagating native North American plants.   William Cullina's fresh and informative take on identifying and carin more...
Amazon Says: A series of beautiful, concise guides for growing and propagating native North American plants.   William Cullina's fresh and informative take on identifying and caring for native plants comes full circle in Native Ferns, Moss, and Grass, the third book in a series (which also includes Wildflowers and Native Trees, Shrubs and Vines) that combines encyclopedic information about North American species with practical instruction. Cullina notes that ferns, moss, and grasses are the green canvas for colorful blooms: they bring a level of refinement and sophistication that no flower can match, and no garden is complete without them. Native Ferns, Moss and Grasses offers a thorough discussion of plant hardiness, and for each species the natural range, type of soil, and habitat in which the plant thrives is indicated. The book concludes with complete information on where to buy featured plants and suggested species for various uses and spaces. less...
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Amazon Says: Ken Druse's Natural Garden Guides: Award-winning gardening expert Ken Druse offers a personal selection of 80 ideal plants for the natural gardener, drawn from his best-sellin more...
Amazon Says: Ken Druse's Natural Garden Guides: Award-winning gardening expert Ken Druse offers a personal selection of 80 ideal plants for the natural gardener, drawn from his best-selling classic The Natural Shade Garden. This companion guide is illustrated throughout with 130 of Druse's spectacular color photo-graphs. All-new descriptions discuss the origins of each plant, supply the pronunciation of their Latin names, and offer information on their ultimate size, time of bloom, light and soil requirements, cold hardiness, and special interest, such as colorful berries or butterfly attraction. Here, too, is indispensable advice for using these plants with companions to create striking designs. Each section has an original introduction presenting valuable techniques for making your own natural garden. An appendix gives mail-order sources. In 80 Great Natural Shade Garden Plants Ken Druse selects the best plants for natural gardening in the shade: Ornamental Shrubs  ¸  Perennials for Flowers  ¸  Perennials for Foliage  ¸  Ground Covers and Vines  ¸  The Best Hostas  ¸  The Best Ferns less...
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Amazon Says: Now available for the first time in paperback, The Wild Lawn Handbook is the definitive guide to transforming the traditional grass lawn into a beautiful alternative lawn usin more...
Amazon Says: Now available for the first time in paperback, The Wild Lawn Handbook is the definitive guide to transforming the traditional grass lawn into a beautiful alternative lawn using native grasses, ferns, mosses, wildflowers, low-growing shrubs, and perennials. In the last few years, there has been a media outcry to raise the public s awareness of the toxicity and water-wasting nature of the American lawn, making wild lawns one of today s hottest gardening topics. This is the first comprehensive book to show you the way step-by-step. If you are unsure of the consequences...you ll be convinced when you see the beautiful alternatives in a portfolio of color photography in the center of the book and the fat lists of sources and support material in the back. The New York Times Stevie Daniels, the former editor of Organic Gardening magazine, has written articles on natural gardening and environmental less...
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