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by High Country Gardens

Crabapple Trees In Fruit, Chicago Botanic Garden Crabapple trees in fruit; Chicago Botanic Garden.

Our planet is in crisis. And no matter how you slice the argument, mankind is right in the middle of the problem. Being a life-long naturalist, it pains me to my heart what is happening to the natural world. And yet I have often asked myself, what can I do so not to succumb to despair. My answer is, in a word, "gardening". And over the last 20 years my vision of how gardening can help to improve ourselves and our precious planet has been expressed through High Country Gardens.

I always use the High Country Garden Eight Principles of Eco-Friendly Xeriscaping as my lens through which to focus and guide my gardening endeavors. They are listed briefly below:

  1. Plan and Design
  2. Create Practical Turf Areas
  3. Use Regionally Suitable Plants
  4. Improve and Maintain the Soil Organically
  5. Use Mulches
  6. Irrigate Efficiently
  7. Practice Water Harvesting
  8. Practice Appropriate Maintenance

The premise on which these principles have evolved for me is that garden can make a positive contribution to all aspects of what we do as individuals, as a community and our beneficial interactions with the planet. It's important to note that both ornamental gardening and gardening for food share these foundational principles.

When we discuss ecologically important concepts of human activity, the word "sustainable" is often used to frame the conversation. But the word is used so often and so broadly, its meaning has become unclear and its impact diluted. As sustainability relates to gardening, I prefer the word "resilient". When using sustainable, eco-friendly practices in the garden, the results of our work is the creation of a resilient garden.

For example, when our organic soil care has restored vitality to its underground ecology, when our plant pallet is well matched to our region and needs little care, when we're encouraging deep root growth by less frequent, deep watering, we're creating gardens that are more resource efficient and more in tune with nature. And being more resource efficient and in tune with nature are cornerstones of sustainability as it relates to gardening.

Collectively, the power of knowledgeable, caring gardeners and our gardens can make a huge impact on our planet. And we gardeners are the ones who can educate and show the world, the healing power of plants, one garden at a time.

Text and Photos By David Salman

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