Sara B. Stein
I love this book! Sara Stein shares how she transitioned from traditional “ornamental gardener” to ecological gardener upon realizing that, once her landscaping was finished, all the butterflies, birds, toads, etc. were gone. She began recalling the animals, plants, wildflowers, insects (butterflies, lightening bugs, dragonflies) that surrounded her in her youth, and how, little by little, they had disappeared. She goes further back to historical documents that described an astonishingly rich and abundant landscape, now a shadow of its former self. So she embarks on a rebuilding project, turning her garden in Westchester County, NY, into an ecological attraction complete with a “pocket woodland”, hedgerows with berries for birds and insects to eat, a meadow, a small island and pond and more.
She intersperses the story of her project with descriptions of the relationships between trees, weeds, flowers, birds, small animals, soil and all the critters that create soil and so on, and it is fascinating. There’s something awesome and magical about the fact that trees provide more acorns one autumn and fewer the next, thereby managing squirrel population sizes. She makes the natural world that surrounds us accessible and really, really interesting and provides information all of us should know and most of us don’t — I certainly didn’t.
Nature, per the author, knows what it’s doing and operates with an ebb and flow that ultimately maintains equilibrium. People can work effectively with nature, to the benefit of all, or can try to either outsmart or defeat nature, often with disastrous results.