Friday, May 6, 2011

When it all comes together

We've lived in this house for six years. In that time, we've removed grass and weeds from probably 5000 square feet, planted hundreds of plants, and hauled many, many truckloads of leaf mulch from the Takoma Park DPW. This is not a is good work, restorative work for us and for this tiny piece of land. (Plus, it serves as propagation for our landscaping business.)

All this time, we've also been studying the world of nature: reading books and going on walks with other people who know about lots of cool stuff and looking things up for this blog...and just watching and listening and spending lots of time outdoors.

And then, sometimes, everything just seems to come together.

The flowers are blooming, and a sphinx moth is feeding on them.

Woodpeckers are visiting the feeder. (They've found something nearby to drum on that has the timbre of a marimba, much better than the metallic tone of our gutters.)

A bess beetle comes out from under its log and starts walking across the yard.

A yellow-rumped warbler stops by to take a bath in our pond.

And an oriole comes and starts taking nesting material from the old flowerstalks.

Somehow, knowing what all this stuff is makes us appreciate it all the much more. We know how hard it can be to spot an oriole since they're usually up in the tree canopy. We know that funny drumming noise is probably one of the woodpeckers that we've been feeding. We know that the sphinx moth's larval host plant was probably the muscadine grape vine in our garden.

And all this, dear friends, is another reason I love writing this blog every week. I hope we've helped you appreciate something you've seen this spring a little more by knowing something more about it. We'd love to hear about it.


Anonymous said...

I'm enjoying your blog very much. I didn't know ya'll were landscaping too. I seem to be in an endless renovation and propagation project. I sure wish the economy was better so I could just wave the magic checkbook and have a more perfect garden! Thanks for the inspiration. Wade

Elizabeth | The Natural Capital said...

Thanks Wade! Of course, the alternative to the magic checkbook is good old sweat equity...we've spent way more time than money on our backyard. Takes longer but it's a great way to really get to know the plants.

Jorge Ribas said...

Elizabeth, this is such a fantastic blog. When my wife and I moved into our first house in Kensington, our wooded backyard was overrun with English ivy, buckthorn, Japanese honeysuckle and a plethora of other invasives. I made it my mission to pull all this stuff out without resorting to herbicides and plant natives in its place, using mostly seeds and the cheapest small plants I could find. It's our third summer now and finally (!!) I'm starting to see some amazing results, with Virginia bluebells, jewelweed, columbine, bee balm and a ton of native grasses. And seeing all the critters (us included) enjoying it is definitely worth the work. Thanks for writing - Jorge

Elizabeth | The Natural Capital said...

Thanks for the feedback Jorge. At least we didn't have too many noxious invasives to get rid of in our yard, just lots of grass and random garden weeds. I don't envy you the ivy and honeysuckle job! My goal for this year is to finally approach our neighbor about the barberry on our property that's nasty stuff.

Carrie said...

Matt & Elizabeth – I found your blog several months ago, and have been loyally following ever since. (I am terrible about commenting, and must make more effort to tell bloggers like you how much I enjoy the experience.) I too live in DC, and I am often disheartened by the apparent lack of good blogs in the DC area. This is such an amazing city, with so much to offer, and I am thrilled every time I find a blog like yours that really showcases an aspect of the culture of the DC area. This town has such an abundance of remarkable natural environments and you do a wonderful job of making it accessible to our community. That’s not an easy feat – I work in the libraries at the Natural History Museum and I know how much work is involved in researching and learning the wealth of knowledge you offer here. Well done!

Some day I plan to join one of your walks. No excuse, we just like to be lazy and read the paper in bed on weekends. But freshly foraged food gets more tempting everyday…

Meanwhile – keep up the good work! – Carrie

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