Ecology for Gardeners
Our success as gardeners is directly related to our understanding of plant interactions within local ecosystems. In the book Ecology for Gardeners, (Steven B. Carroll and Steven D. Salt; Timber Press;2004; $29.95) the authors point out that plants have specific roles in the health of our environment, and plants depend upon other plants and animals for their own well-being. We can learn a lot by observing how plants grow in nature; the communities they form are mutually beneficial, providing protection from the elements, attracting pollinators, and sharing moisture and nutrients.
Home gardens are plant communities, too. Of course, structure and change in our gardens are orchestrated by the gardener, not the forces of nature, as it is in natural plant communities. However, the closer we as gardeners work with nature, the more successful our gardens will be.
As an educator and an avid gardener, I found Ecology for Gardeners quite appealing. It's written in textbook style, with each topic thoroughly presented. Every chapter serves as a prelude to the next, providing a rewarding journey to the end of the book. It builds more than just a basic understanding of plant physiology and the interconnection of plant communities; it helps define our roles of stewards of the Earth, encouraging us to make sure that the ecological role of our gardens is a positive one.
Favorite or New Plant
Stella d'Oro Daylily
Stella d'Oro daylily makes an attractive planting with its mounds of arching, grasslike foliage, but steals the show with its yellow trumpet blooms. The flowers emerge in late spring and continue through the summer in my garden. It's one of the most dependable daylilies, tolerating a wide range of growing conditions. Stella d'Oro grows best in fertile, compost-enriched soil that is moisture retentive but well drained. Although daylilies will grow in some shade, you will get more flowers from plants that receive full sun for at least half the day.