Nature-Friendly Garden
Creating a Backyard Haven for
Plants, Wildlife, and People

Marlene A. Condon
Some of us have the Brown Thumb when it comes to gardens. We plant petunias and get crab's eyes and creeping bugleweed. We dig a hole to stuff in the lilies, and what appears: stinking camomile and the ugly white bladder-flower.

A tree? Let's put a beech or sumac over here. And what rises in its stead? Bloodflower, bastard ipecac and the common mugwort.

Mebbe it is our attitude. Ms. Condon loves all creatures (and plants) great and small, sees all living in splendid good-will towards each other. The White-tailed Deer, she tells us, the one that eats all our syringa (but not the bladder-wort), can be kept out with a fence. But it will have to be an eight-foot fence, "because they are good jumpers." (She doesn't like electric fences because "it may cause discomfort to the animal.")

She likes groundhogs because their digging aerates the soil. Mice, she assures us, are very important to the food chain, although, presumably, not ours. Voles can be controlled by snakes. Right: bring on the boas.

After you get through the chapters on Bagworms and Blowflies, you may decide to hell with it and settle on a Japanese Rock Garden. Photographs of bats, black widows and efts, plentifully sprinkled around the text, may confirm this decision.

--- Richard Saturday

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