Starting in 2019 we began transitioning this property from primarily lawn into several different areas. When we first arrived here there was little evidence of life or any real vital ecosystem, now that has all changed.
In the time since then, this small patch of land has exploded with life. You can feel the energy of all the living things: multitudes of varieties of birds, pollinators of every size and shape, butterflies, reptiles, amphibians, and even a few mammal visitors. Basically any place that you are still in for a moment will reward you with its vitality, and sometimes with a few unexpected surprises.
Our third acre now supports a number of micro-ecosystems, as we try to make room for all this life to join us.
THE MEADOW – Previously all mowed grass, The Meadow is an area that we are rewilding. It is part sun and part shade, and is being allowed to grow naturally with a small amount of management. We have planted a number of natives here, and are delighted to see the various plants and flowers that spring up on their own, now that they have a space to do so. This space will also be used in the future for classes.
THE ARBORETUM – Our back fence line is a dense, fully shaded tree line, that is like a narrow strip of forest. When we moved here the trees were struggling against all the invasive non-native vines that were slowly choking them out, and the undergrowth was a tangled mess of chain link, and invasive shrubs and plants. It took two full years to clean most of this out; one segment at a time. We cleaned out the invasive shrubs, replaced them with native shrubs, and slowly cut off the vines from their roots. Now that most of the vines have died off, it feels like the trees have sighed in relief and are becoming healthy again. We have also planted some at risk medicinal herbs there that prefer growing in wooded areas.
THE BACKYARD – Most of this area is shaded, and was previously a ragged lawn. We put in a small pond that has a solar powered pump, and which is kept clean and mosquito free by fish. This area also homes our small flock of chickens, who are great workers in our compost piles that are located there. We also have a worm compost to eat our garden scraps, and some small raised beds that we use for our winter garden, since this area gets more sun then. Rain barrels also help keep the pond filled and the plants well watered.
THE FRONT YARD – This area was all lawn when we moved her, except for one dying willow tree that had to be removed, and one very old peach tree. It is a tough spot located on the north east side of the house and property, meaning it is in the scorching heat all day in the summer, and shaded and wind blasted in the winter.
The first tree we put in was a Black Tupelo that is now the center of our compass garden. The peach tree became a peach tree guild, and shares its space with some supporting plants on the edge of our herb spiral. Several small hugelkulturs have created additional growing spaces. The second year we put in another small pond, and since then there is little left of the original lawn.
Because it is the only sunny space on our property, our vegetables are grown here in the front yard. They are interspersed with many flowers and herbs; some which we have planted and some planted by the many birds that now live here. These gardens are not your typical rows of vegetable, but it is a wild mixture of plants that have created a beautiful and vibrant ecosystem.
We are proud to have become part of the United Plant Savers Botanical Sanctuary Network in 2019. This network of medicinal botanical sanctuaries was established throughout the country, to not only serve as rich depositories for ‘at risk’ North American medicinal plants, but also to serve as educational centers for plant conservation and organic cultivation.