The Climate Conscious Gardener

Beaver Lake Nature Center

“So will I build my altar in the fields,
And the blue sky my fretted dome shall be,
And the sweet fragrance that the wild flower yields
Shall be the incense I will yield to thee.”
–  Samuel Taylor Coleridge


This spring as the garden starts, it is as if I am starting anew in my garden or looking at it with fresh eyes as though I just moved here and had never seen it blooming before.  What will I keep? I may want to make some changes.  I definitely want to make it my own with my own signature or style.  That style has been evolving over the past several years.

I have always had more difficulty making decisions with my own house, my own gardens.  I can see someone else’s and get ideas right away.  Mine I could stare at for hours and still not see it.  I think I have needed time to evolve with the style that has been developing.  To make sure od a right fit for me.  And now it feels as if the moment is right to make some significant changes.

I have been focusing more on native plants particularly those that feed birds or act as larval and host plants to many different butterflies.  I have decided to take my time and get to know my garden, to not be in a hurry as I did when I first planted much of it.  There are things that are working and things that are not.  But going slow will be the key to moving forward in the right direction.

As Earth Day approaches on April 22nd, I always question myself.  What have I done this past year to make a difference?  What can I do this year?  I believe continuing to garden more sustainably, more responsibly is the path I continue to go down.  In doing this, I feel I am making a difference.

After all that is all we can do…our little part.  So when Michelle@The Sage Butterfly decided to host her Earth Day Reading Project again this year, I was excited to participate especially since I have found the perfect book.  It exemplifies the change I have made, continues to inform me about sustainable gardening habits and I hope it might inspire you.  I will also be linking in with Holley@Roses and Other Gardening Joys for her Garden Book Review which happens the 20th of the month.

For the Earth Day Reading Project, Michelle asks us to share a book that:

  • is one you would recommend to others for living or gardening more sustainably – or –
  • inspires your love of nature

My last book review is one that inspired my love of nature; Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac.  A fantastic read and not to be missed.  The Climate Conscious Gardener takes me further on my journey to learn more about  sustainable gardening.


The Climate Conscious Gardener

(BBG Guides for a Greener Planet)

by Janet Marinelli (editor)

Paperback: 120 pages
Publisher: Brooklyn Botanic Garden (June 1, 2010)
List Price:  $ 12.95
Amazon Price: $11.01 (Paperback)



In a  Few Words

The Climate Conscious Gardener gives gardeners practical strategies for keeping the planet green through sustainable and organic gardening.  It is a wonderful collection of chapters or essays that are jammed packed full of info:

  • Introduction:  A Wake Up Call from the Climate-a quick intro about climate change; especially what happens when the  carbon and nitrogen are out of balance in the atmosphere, and how plants, soil, and chemicals affect climate change.
  • A Gardener’s Guide to Climate Change-goes through the effects of climate change, how it affects different areas of the US, the impact on plants and the basics of global warming.
  • Reducing Your Garden’s Climate Footprint-shows you the ways you can lower your garden’s greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Offsetting Carbon Emissions in Your Garden-teaches you to landscape for home efficiency with such things as planting for shade around your house, creating windbreaks to keep your house warmer in winter and determining the climate footprint of homegrown food.
  • Turning Your Landscape into a Carbon Sink-shows you how your plants can be used to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere; maximizing carbon storage in your plants; best ways to food garden by going organic and growing soil carbon in your food garden.
  • Beyond the Garden-takes you on a journey with gardeners who are taking action in their communities.


What I Liked

What was particularly compelling was  A Gardener’s Guide to Climate Change.  It goes through what will happen and is happening to our gardens with climate change.  The data and examples are from 2009 (already 3 years past), but they speak about trends that either were just happening or could happen.  This part is particularly scary since many are coming to fruition already; increased number and duration of extreme droughts throughout the country is one example.  This section also discusses the challenges for each region of the US as the climate change continues.  For the NE, we may see the end to growing apples, blueberries, cranberries as well as the maple sugar industry.  Scary prospects indeed, but certainly substantiated  recently when many of  our planting zones changed showing we have been warming up.

Another aspect of the this chapter is the many studies about plants and garden styles that will also be changing.   One such study showed the likely demise of the English Cottage Garden because of the extreme weather conditions.  This would be sad.

The most informative part of the book for me was the section on Reducing Your Garden’s Climate Footprint.  While I loved reading about climate change and learning more, I wanted something that would show me what I could do.  Getting rid of or reducing lawns is a big part of reducing your carbon footprint.  If you do not know all the reasons why this is true, you will after reading this book.  For some of us we are forced to keep lawns, but I have reduced the size, use no chemicals or water and cut it sparingly.  I was glad to learn these will help.  Other things I learned more about were:  proper natural fertilizing (feeding the soil) and its importance, selecting or making your own potting mixes, how to water wisely, the no-irrigation garden and selecting eco-friendly products.

Actually Offsetting Carbon Emissions in Your Garden and Turning Your Landscape into a Carbon Sink also gave me useful information as a gardener especially with : the climate footprint of growing your own food; the how to and reasons for going organic; gardening without disturbing your soil and why this is important and the best ways to maximize carbon storage in your plants to help reduce the greenhouse gases.


Not So Much

For those who are not into the science of climate change, you can breeze through those sections and still get a lot out of the book, but I challenge you to wrap your head around the science.  They make it plain and easy to understand from a gardener’s perspective.  What the greenhouse gases are, how we contribute to them with our gardens, and how we can improve our carbon footprint are some of the most important things you can learn from this book…all the reasons why I have chosen to garden more sustainably, more environmentally friendly.


local wetlands

Final Thoughts

This book was a fascinating read for me.  Even though it is a mere 120 pages, they are jammed packed with lots of incredibly useful information.  And while I was sure I knew a lot about the subject, I was pleased to discover so much more I had not even considered.  It is a great starting place to learn about the why and how of sustainable gardening.  To see what little things you can do to help the environment while you garden.  Just imagine that your beautiful garden (what you plant, how you plant and how you maintain it) can actually help the Earth.  Just knowing this makes me say, “I’m in!”  How about you?


“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” ~Kahlil Gibran



Next up on the blog:  Next Monday it will be time for another GBBD post and I hope to parade lots more blooms.  Another Simply the Best post that ties in with Diana@Elephant’s Eye, and Gail@Clay and Limestone’s Wildflower Wednesday will follow on the 23rd.  I will be featuring my Wild Lupines.  And lastly it will be time for another Word 4 Wednesday with Donna@Garden Walk, Garden Talk.

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 weekly posts, every Tuesday, at Beautiful Wildlife Garden.

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