Silent Spring

 

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Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
― Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

Have you ever I climbed a mountain and beheld the sights when you arrived at the top?  I have and the one that I remember the most was in the Adirondack Mountains , a short climb to an outlook called Eagle’s Nest.  When I got to the top, I sat on the immense boulders and cast my eyes on the view before me.   I saw a sight I could never forget. Several lakes surrounded by brilliant autumn colors.  I sat there in the sunlight for hours taking in the majesty and absorbing the spiritual energy.

Mountains are said to symbolize vision and energy.  We can connect with our higher selves there, and I have felt that immense energy there.DSCN0597  And as I have created my wildlife garden, I have found that same connection.  Every time I see these amazing natural vistas whether at home or away, I am thankful for this wonderful Earth.  And that gratitude is a major reason I have continued to recreate my garden into a wildlife friendly space in the midst of expanses of lawns, and chemicals for the upkeep of those lawns and to get rid of every wildflower, weed, critter and insect found on or near those lawns.  In creating a more organic, wildlife friendly space I am finding a way to give back to the Earth.  And the wildlife that visit are pure pleasure and delight.  Right now the bird activity alone is amazing as there are sparrows and bluebirds already nesting.  The birds have increased in number each year in my wildlife garden  which feeds them with only the insects and native plants found in the garden (and a bit of suet for the woodpeckers).  For this post, I am using pictures of birds that have been foraging in the garden so far this spring.  The robin above was getting rained on and is a bit out of focus as he was shaking off all the water.

What better time to think about the Earth and what we are doing to give back than to celebrate Earth Day in a way that is meaningful.  I thought another way for me to give back would be to read a special book that symbolizes Earth Day as I link in with Holley’s Garden Book Review meme.  I chose the book , Silent Spring, which is the book that helped launch the environmental movement.  I did not read this book when I was in middle and high school in the late 60s and early 70s.  I wish I had, but no matter it is as timely today as it ever was.

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Silent Spring

 

silent spring

Author: Rachel Carson
Paperback:  400 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Co; Anniversary edition (Oct 22, 2002)
Amazon Price: $11.10

 

 

 

 

 

In A Few Words

I love the premise of the book.  What if suddenly the birds were gone, there were no bees and blooms, farmers couldn’t raise any baby farm animals, there were no fish in the streams and a white powder was found over everything.  People had finally silenced spring which never came again.  This premise paints a rather scary picture of the future.

 “It is ironic to think that man might determine his own future by something so seemingly trivial as the choice of an insect spray.”  ~Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
And even though this book was a statement about DDT, we continue to find that all the pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals we are using DSCN0551are probably killing our wildlife and creating more disease for humans.  While we are slowly accumulating the effects of this use of chemicals on our wildlife, our land and water the premise does not seem to be a fantasy.
Our local lake, Onondaga Lake, was until recently the most polluted lake in the world due to chemical and waste dumping by a big chemical companies and the local city and towns dumping raw sewage in the lake for years.  After lots of lawsuits, it is finally being cleaned and the shoreline replanted and reclaimed for wildlife.  We hope to see it revitalized and there are now signs of life in the lake like water actually being found in the lake along with varied types of fish and birds like eagles nesting on the shore.
But we never fully recover our environment and the effects seem to linger.  Case in point,  while the lake is being cleaned up the waste from the lake has to go somewhere, and that means burying it in the land nearby.
“Only within the moment of time represented by the present century has one species — man — acquired significant power to alter the nature of the world. ”  ~Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

 

 

What I Liked

DSCN0409Carson’s social criticism led us to take responsibility for our actions and helped launch the first Earth Day on this day in 1970.  We are living with the after effects of many of the mass spraying of chemicals the author references.  I find the book particularly relevant today as we continue to spray for mosquitoes here like we did for Japanese beetles in the late 50s.  The deadly effects may have been quicker to see in the 50s with 80% of song birds dead from the spraying as well as other critters affected.   But I can’t believe that today’s mass sprayings are not affecting the environment and people who breath in these chemicals.

“A Who’s Who of pesticides is therefore of concern to us all. If we are going to live so intimately with these chemicals eating and drinking them, taking them into the very marrow of our bones – we had better know something about their nature and their power.”  ~Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
I have consciously decided to not use chemicals   But unfortunately I am surrounded by neighbors who spray chemicals on their lawns.  It is hard not to have my land affected as the wind does blow.  And it is not ironic to notice the number of critters, especially the birds, who inhabit my area as opposed to theirs.

“The earth’s vegetation is part of a web of life in which there are intimate and essential relations between plants and animals. Sometimes we have no choice but to disturb these relationships, but we should do so thoughtfully, with full awareness that what we do may have consequences remote in time and place.”  ~Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

 

Not So Much

One of the criticisms of this book is that it is out-dated.  I still believe it is a must read even if you just read select chapters along DSCN0510with the first and last chapter.  Each section makes a case for the premise of the book.

Another issue some have with the book is that it has been mentioned that the book presents only one side of this argument.  I think Carson presented lots of evidence for her arguments, and ended the book with some interesting alternatives to chemical controls.  I continue to explore my own biological alternatives in gardening such as companion planting.

 “As crude a weapon as the cave man’s club, the chemical barrage has been hurled against the fabric of life – a fabric on the one hand delicate and destructible, on the other miraculously tough and resilient, and capable of striking back in unexpected ways. These extraordinary capacities of life have been ignored by the practitioners of chemical control who have brought to their task no “high-minded orientation,” no humility before the vast forces with which they tamper.”  ~Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

 

 

Final Thoughts

DSCN0458I do find it sad that we continue to think we can control nature….rid ourselves of pests, insects, weeds.  Instead we are destroying the very soil we till with all sorts of sprays and powders.

“The control of nature is a phrase conceived in arrogance, born of the Neanderthal age of biology and the convenience of man”  ~Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

 Although Rachel Carson died a year and a half after the book was published, she already knew the book had made a difference.  Yet we still seem to repeat our mistakes and continue to be slow to react to what we do to the environment.  As we contemplate this 43rd Earth Day perhaps we can seriously consider our actions  and the impact they have on the Earth.

“In nature nothing exists alone.”  ~Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

 

 

Here are a few ideas that you can do to start making a difference:
  • Consider planting more native plants to give back habitats for birds, butterflies, pollinators and other critters.DSCN0607
  • Conserve water by using the right plants for your conditions.  Natives also help conserve water use.
  • Eliminate chemical use especially on your lawn and in your garden. 
  • Reduce your lawn and plant more native lawn alternatives and gardens.  Reducing lawns helps also reduce gas emissions, chemicals and water use and creates more habitats for critters.
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Seed Giveaway

My blogger friend, Susie Troccolo@ Life-Change-Compost and I were giving away seeds to help our native bees.  Susie has a wonderfully written blog so I hope you will visit her.  You can check out Susie’s recent post, Bee Grateful.   I plan to have another seed giveaway in May with a surprise for Susie.  She has become a wonderful friend and I really want to help her grow her blog.

Winners on my blog are:

Karen@Back Road Journal

Christy@Christy’s Cottage Wildlife Garden

Tina@In The Garden

Mary Anne@Leafport

KL@BEAUTIFUL BOONTON AND A NOVICE GARDENER

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Next up on the blog:  Monday brings another Wildflower Tale.  Then it will be May and the middle of spring…my favorite month during my favorite season!!

I will be linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Wednesday.

I hope you will join me for my posts once a month at Beautiful Wildlife Garden. See my most current post now.

As always, I’ll be joining Tootsie Time’s Fertilizer Friday.

Please remember, to comment click on the title of the post and the page will reload with the comments section.

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2013.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

 

 

70 comments

  1. Karin/Southern Meadows says:

    Since I stopped using chemical several years ago I noticed a vast increase in the wildlife population in my garden. I welcome to “pests” and the beneficial insects because it is all about balance in the ecosystem. Everyone needs food! I am so sensitive to chemicals now that whenever my neighbors have their lawn sprayed I can smell it for a day or two. I am always surprised that the people doing the spraying don’t even wear masks. Great post Donna! Let everyday be Earth Day!

    • Donna says:

      Thanks Karin. I cringe when the spraying begins or those chemical trucks pull up. I love the wildlife to gather in my yard. I notice they don’t feed in those chemical yards since what is left to eat.

  2. Lavender Cottage says:

    I have been an organic gardener for years and since Ontario passed a pesticide ban, the homeowners all have to use natural methods. Except….the ones bringing in banned products from the US like weed & feed to battle the dandelions.
    Great review on Silent Spring Donna, my life would be empty without the birds and wildlife that visit our yard.
    I have several bird feeders that particularly help my friends through the winter.
    Judith

    • Donna says:

      I hate to hear our chemicals are finding their way to other countries to do harm. I so wish we would ban them but the chemical companies have too much political power.

  3. tina says:

    Thank you! Looking forward to my seeds. I once did a post on Rachel Carson. It is still one of my favorite posts though it does not get many hits. I think many people don’t know about her very important work. I did not know until I went to horticulture school and learn, though I do remember the uproar about DDT in the 70s. I think chemicals have their place but responsible usage and alternatives should be considered first.

    • Donna says:

      It is sad really Reed. It was such an amazing place and then it was turned to trash and left that way when companies went out of business. But thanks to litigation it is returning to life through mandated clean up.

  4. Susan says:

    What a nice surprise to read your wonderful post and then your very kind reference to my blog. Thank you so much!

    I am traveling in June to celebrate five years of being cancer free, but I will continue to check out your posts. I think it is wonderful that you remind us all of Rachel Carson. She was prescient. I often think that we live I an environment that is right on the edge of toxicity…it doesn’t take much to push an animal to extinction or a person to get cancer. We must do all we can do to help. It is the only earth we have. With love, Susie

  5. KL says:

    You have written a post very dear to my heart :-). Thank You and also thank you for the seeds :-). I am now waiting eagerly to get them. I know about the spots you are talking about on Adirondack mountains. We (my hubby and I) have been there many times; also lake Onondaga — we must have crossed paths, at certain point, in upper NY.

  6. HolleyGarden says:

    Donna, I have never read this book, but you have made me want to! The use of chemicals is upsetting to many of us that garden organically. My husband has had many digestive problems, but when we switched to buying all-organic vegetables, his digestive problems stopped. We believe that all the round-up ready crops are causing more harm than anyone knows. Your statement about destroying our soil caught my eye. What will we do when our soil is so full of chemicals that it won’t grow anything? Thanks for a great review, and for joining in.

  7. Cathy says:

    Organic gardening is so important – glad you have posted about it Donna. Many harmful products have been banned here, but there are still a lot of mistakes being made. I think setting an example of how great a garden can look without sprays will perhaps rub off on one or two of your neighbours, one day…. Happy Earth Day!

    • Donna says:

      Oh I hope so Cathy but I don’t hold out much hope. I wait for people to tell me they are eating organic foods and then I ask them about their lawns…many times they never make the connection of the chemicals they are ingesting there..

  8. Christy says:

    Hi Donna…I’m very excited about the seeds! Thank you so much. We don’t use chemicals in our garden and it’s full of birds, bees, butterflies and other critters. It’s sad to think how many people there are that just don’t understand (or care) about what they’re doing to the environment. Thanks for a great post.

  9. Island Threads says:

    a great post Donna and so true, I’m lucky as I’ve not came across anyone using chemicals close to me, farmers and others who use pesticides don’t acknowledge how far they travel on the wind, your birds are lovely and lucky to have your garden, Frances

  10. Jeannine says:

    Very thoughtful post for Earth day. I wish I was more educated when I started my garden 25 years ago! I have become more organic since then but not entirely. I would have used more natives as well! Happy Earth Day to you. Jeannine

    • Donna says:

      Jeannine I have only recently m=begun to make the changes as I had no idea either about natives, chemicals and organic gardening. I am glad I started to make the changes in my garden and I love adding more natives every year.

  11. PlantPostings says:

    It’s really not all that hard to garden organically, as I’ve found over the years. For a vegetable garden, that means the produce tastes better and it’s safe to eat. And for the rest of the garden, it means it’s safer for animals to roam and eat, and for all creatures to breathe. Good book review, Donna!

    • Donna says:

      Thanks Beth…armed with the right info it is quite simple. Hopefully we can continue to give people more of that info to help them break the chemical addiction.

  12. RamblingWoods says:

    This is a must read book and she is one of my heroes. I too wish I weren’t surrounded by all the lawn sprays especially as I try to heal from the breast cancer, but I do what I can.. You had asked if I wanted you to help pick out something for under my maple tree. yes, please.. it isn’t a big tree, mostly shady, dry and gets a bit of sunshine dappled through…I would need much of whatever it was to make it work…Michelle

  13. Karen says:

    I have read and re-read A Silent Spring many times! I live in Ontario, Canada, pesticides are now not allowed to be used by homeowners. I have never used them, my neighbours never liked me much, I have the biggest most beautiful dandelions on the street! I also have over 18 species of birds visiting my yard and feeders. Cottontail rabbbits, racoons. squirrels, field mice, voles and skunks hang out here too!

  14. Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens says:

    Rachel Carson’s message is fresh because not only have we learned nothing since 1970, we have made things a whole lot worse. Chemicals are more prevalent than ever. Can you imagine what she would have thought of GMOs? I won’t comment on farmers, but home gardeners have no excuse except perhaps igonorance for resorting to toxic substances to support a hobby. Sounds mean I guess, but that’s the way I feel.

    • Donna says:

      Not mean at all just honest. For gardeners the use of chemicals is ignorance and great advertising by chemical companies. Indeed Rachel would be appalled by what is going on now and quite vocal. We have lost these courageous voices, but it seems the grassroots voices are becoming louder…we can only keep trying to get our message out there. I know even our big grocery chain, Wegmans, has been experimenting with producing organic produce at the local farmer level and have been quite successful. Now they are working with the local farmers to get them to adopt more of these methods. Sad that I can find more organic produce in the grocery store than the local farmer’s market.

  15. Jennifer@threedogsinagarden says:

    I have never climbed a mountain and had the chance to see the view from the top. One day, I hope…
    I did not realize that Silent Spring had reached a landmark anniversary until I saw your post. This is one of those books that changed the world. I have never read it, but am very familiar with its impact.
    Here in the Toronto area lawn chemicals have been banned. I wonder if it might make a difference if you lobbied your local municipal politician to make a change? Good for you to take a more Earth friendly approach than your neighbours!

    • Donna says:

      Here it takes a state ban to really get anywhere and I just have not seen any state willing to take this on. If we could only eliminate lawn chemicals that would be a great start. But that would mean less than perfect lawns.

  16. Donna says:

    I must have been one of the first readers of your post, but could not comment at the time. You know my thoughts, they are very similar to yours. I echo Carolyn’s statement, but it is more than ignorance for property owners. Since I design for a living, many know the issues with chemical use, but INSIST on having it applied. It has more to do with easy convenience and less maintenance. You can talk to you’re blue in the face, but nothing changes their minds. I plant native gardens along with the highly designed on the same huge properties. This way there is a bit of both worlds for the homeowner to see for themselves. They don’t have an issue with the native plants off to the edges of the property, the bugs don’t BUG them there, and the WEEDS become wildflowers. It is all perspective. I read Carson’s book in school, so I had a long time of influence from her writings. I had some very progressive teachers.

    • Donna says:

      Lucky you to have read this book as you began your career aas it has influenced you so much. I agree for many it is convenience and we know that is so much more important for people. Your clients are lucky to have you planting those native gardens even if on the fringe. Your progressive teachers have created a progressive student in you!

  17. Liz says:

    Hi Donna,

    I die a little inside whenever I see all these weed killer and other chemical adverts on TV. I just can’t understand why people still use chemicals on their gardens and don’t seem to give a moment’s thought to what they’re doing to the earth.
    I’m always ranting at my dad for using stuff; although he claims he uses organic stuff, I’m not too certain I believe him. Kills me, every.single.time.

  18. Beth says:

    Donna, This is a very good post. Do you feel that fertilizers like Miracle Grow are hazardous too, or just the pesticides and herbicides? If that is hazardous, what do you suggest? Fish emulsion? “Just” compost? Have a wonderful wknd, Donna. Thanks again.
    Beth

    • Donna says:

      Miracle Grow is a chemical and not organic…It really doesn’t help your veggies or flowers…I have found that compost, manure tea and fish emulsion grow everything better. I also use an organice potting soil that rocks Miracle Grow potting soil.

  19. Andrea says:

    Hi Donna, i agree with you on the feelings that we all feel when on top of a mountain. Maybe the feelings are very personal and that’s the reason many try hard to reach summits, exhilaration and accomplishment are joyous feelings. And who knows we really imbibe the as you said “spiritual energies” only available on the top. That is true in the mystical sense, there are even what they call leigh lines or energy rich lines, usually emanating from the tops of ranges.

    About chemical things, because the advance countries always start with new technologies followed by developing and least developed ones, when you realized that some technologies are bad you can easily back off! However, we are not as lucky. The sad thing is, some banned products are dropped with us, and we are not as strong and as capable of rejecting or saying NO! This is very sad for us and those like us!

  20. Alberto says:

    Hi Donna. Honestly I think somebody shall change agriculture politics in primis. What we use or not in our gardens might draw a path but I’m not sure it would make the difference. However i don’t spray nor I use anything toxic in my garden, I even pay more and more attention to toxic products that might end up indirectly in my garden (soap in the washing machine for instance), this makes me feel ok but unfortunately doesn’t change the World. The pictures you posted are amazing, you have birds with a really exotic look in your place!

    • Donna says:

      I think we take our lovely birds for granted here…I think Alberto every little thing we do at least helps a little and maybe as we model how to use less chemicals more people will join us. But it will take a grassroots movement by the people to influence government to stop the chemicals.

  21. b-a-g says:

    Great post – I’m keeping my lawn but I don’t water or treat it. We had a glimpse of a silent spring in March and the beginning of April.

    • Donna says:

      We don’t water or treat ours anymore since learning about the horrible effects of the chemicals. Scary to think we could have a Silent Spring.

  22. Janet/Plantaliscious says:

    That is a very timely post Donna, as today there is a big demonstration to try and persuade our government to outlaw the use of a pesticide linked to the sudden decrease in the bee population across Europe. The EU has already put a ban in place but the UK government seems to want to let farmers use it if they want, because it has passed all the requisite tests. I can’t join the protest but have signed the petition. The only chemical I ever use in the garden is glysophate, and that sparingly and where there is no other option. Yesterday I saw the first goldfinches in the garden, we are fortunate as there are lots of green spaces in the village making it rich with wildlife, and over the next few years hopefully this garden will become a favourite sanctuary for lots of it.

  23. Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams says:

    Hi Donna, I haven’t read the book, partly because it scares me too much, it’s becoming more and more of a reality in our life.

    Your blog post is amazing, and I agree with so many of the points that you make, Our rural neighbourhood has no streetlights, no sidewalks, and deer wander through at will. But people sitll insist on the perfect green mat of a lawn…

    We have always been chemical free, and as much inside as out…it’s a area that many people were ignoring until now. And oddly enough we can thank Pinterest for opeing more eyes about the dangers of indoor chemicals.

    The book is on my list, one day. And for now, I will spend some time in my wildlife friendly garden, contemplating what price we are paying just so others can have a bug free environment.

    Jen

  24. Diana Studer says:

    Do any of your neighbours react with interest or enthusiasm to wildlife gardening? It amuses me to see how happily people settle down to enjoy the view across our pond and garden. One neighbour said, he’ll have to make friends with the new people so he can still visit ‘our garden’.

    • Donna says:

      Unfortunately no they don’t. They don’t like the mess of the critters. It really is too bad. I have a new neighbor who out up a bird feeder so that is a start.

  25. debsgarden says:

    My neighbor hires a company that regularly sprays her lawn. It looks great for a few weeks, then begins to look sick, at which point the chemical man returns and resprays. This happens multiple times through spring and summer. Her lawn is addicted to chemicals! I have a nice lawn, and I use an all natural fertilizer/weed inhibiter, applied once in spring and again in fall. My lawn is more lush than my neighbors’ and remains healthier throughout the year. Our soil is full of worms, and birds and other critters love it.

  26. Foxglove Lane says:

    Donna your Robin is so different from ours, but equally pretty. Lucky him that you are keeping your garden pesticide free….this is an uphill battle with the keepers of lawns…….I think they want them to be like the sitting room carpet or something!! I despair!! Keep those juicy critters fattening up Donna, you are a life saver for nature. x

  27. Janet, The Queen of Seaford says:

    I have not read “Silent Spring” — though I hope to sometime. I think we are the choir you are ‘preaching’ to…we are like minded.
    It was interesting watching Ken Burns’ show on PBS yesterday–The Dust Bowl, all the wrong things done across the great prairie.

  28. Jennifer Richardson says:

    glad to be able to stop by and leave you some love now!
    I loved Rachel Carson’s book….remember reading it in college and wanting so badly to take on the world
    and change it:)
    I still hear her words but more importantly her heart
    when I’m down on my knees tugging weeds
    and planting and working the soil.
    makes me sigh both peace and pain.
    thanks for the gentle stir,
    Jennifer

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