The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “change is the only constant in life.” Sometimes, though, change comes so quickly or strongly that it is difficult to adapt.
We have been experiencing effects of climate change, including increasing frequency of severe weather events, stronger periods of drought or rain, and a general warming. How can we adapt to such hard-to-predict changes? Can plants and wildlife adapt? Is there anything we can do to help?
The Knox County Public Library has a book that can help us make changes in our homes, and other landscapes to make them more resilient and adaptable and affect the larger world, too: “Climate-Wise Landscaping: Practical Actions for a Sustainable Future,” published by New Society Publishers in 2018 (712.6 Re). The authors, Sue Reed and Ginny Stibolt, are positive, optimistic people, saying that, “This book is a tool for anyone who wants to be part of the solution to climate change.” In their conclusion, they state, “Every yard is a place where we can express our dawning realization that we are stewards of this planet. And who better to lead the way … than the millions of gardeners, homeowners, landscapers, and property managers who already tend their own gardens and property?”
This book gives us the tools we need to do just that — in simple, practical ways. The authors work as a balanced team. Reed is a landscape architect and designer with 30 years experience. Stibolt is a botanist, gardener, and naturalist.
The book is organized into general sections: Lawn, Trees and Shrubs, Water, Ecosystems, Soil, Planning and Design, Herbaceous Plants, Urban Issues, Food, and Materials. Sprinkled through those are actions that are practical, doable, “close to home steps.” Some sections also contain a primer with background information on topics such as Climate Change, Landscape Chemicals, Native Plants, Water Chemistry, and more.
The authors emphasize the importance of looking at your landscape as an ecosystem, where “everything alive is performing some kind of role in nature,” and encouraging bio-diversity, which “enables the natural world to survive and thrive.” Fostering better soil health is another foundation aspect, “the basis of all life on earth.” Healthy soil is also an ecosystem full of bio-diversity. Scoop up a handful of soil from your landscape and imagine this from the book: “One single handful can contain more organisms than there are humans on the planet.” Healthy soil supports healthy plants, and undisturbed soil covered with plants helps sequester carbon and keep it from entering the atmosphere.
There is so much to learn from this book, and to do — how to create an energy-wise landscape, have a truly healthy lawn, adapt for extremes, conserve water, produce food in a sustainable manner, choose plants, and “fit the landscape to the land.”
Reed and Stibolt say that “instead of wringing our hands, we prefer to roll up our sleeves.” Check out this book and start by choosing one aspect that you can start changing in your landscape. The authors say, “The big solutions (to climate change) will not be enough. They must be buttressed with millions of smaller steps and actions — one yard, one park, and one landscape at a time.”
Watch for news of a new garden education program and demonstration garden coming soon to the Knox County Public Library.