One look at our home and it is obvious that we have a passion for greening the world. Green spaces can be city parks and boulevards, but also include community gardening plots, shade producing plantings near buildings and green roofs. One can even grow vines that will flower, produce food and shade sun-drenched zones like large windows, decks and patios, walkways and entrances. And let’s not to forget to mention the water gardens, vegetable gardens and green roofs as well.
When we bought our first home, a fixer upper, we turned that abused ex-rental to a little green cottage oasis filled with trees, shrubs, flowers and food-producing gardens. It was featured in a small local magazine and also the local paper at the time. That was 11 years ago. We have since done the same to our property here too, totally changing this home and property to the point that it is no longer recognizable to people who rented here a dozen years ago. It was a thrill to have our certified wildlife habitat, bee-friendly property featured in the I Love Creston magazine a few years ago.
If you do a search online, you’ll find we are so passionate about this that we’ve written countless articles, hosted many dozens of radio broadcasts on the subject, have been invited to do interviews sharing our advice and more. And through all of this, hoping that we have inspired others to green up their spaces too.
Plants do more for us than feed us and cool our homes. Perennial shrubs, plants and trees help mitigate climate change by absorbing pollutants like carbon dioxide and nitrous oxides – releasing clean oxygen into the air. They will also filter dust from busy roads and reduce soil erosion on farmlands. They reduce UV-B rays (which causes skin cancer) and keep our vehicles from being too hot in the summer. They protect the soil by preventing water erosion and compaction, reducing flooding and actually creating soil via their life cycles.
They will also help cool the air by releasing water vapor through their leaves, protecting plantings around them from dehydration. Plantings can muffle noise, reduce heating and cooling costs for our homes, and enhance the neighborhood. They attract pollinators and provide habitat for numerous kinds of wild critters from insects to birds.
Did you know that communities with a lot of trees and green spaces actually have less crime? Children are less obese in these areas too, because they are playing and participating in community group events outdoors. Plants also provide us with food on an annual basis, especially trees and perennials that produce fruit and nut harvests annually. Gardens can help create stronger neighborhoods, as we are more likely to connect and share abundant harvests.
Gift-giving for birthdays, anniversaries, special holidays really affect a limited budget. By sharing pre-made meals, natural products, flower bouquets or preserves (jams/jelly/syrup/wine/dried herbs) made from the garden, one can greatly reduce or even eliminate the costs incurred from gift-giving.
Here, we have noticed over and over again, people walking by in pairs, in family groups, by themselves – stopping to enjoy the experience of witnessing a busy bee, a floppy butterfly dancing on leaves, a happy bird twittering… the leaves turning and swaying in the breeze… the restful shade giving people and their dogs a respite from summer heat. Children squeal with joy at the sights and the elderly love to stop and chatter, sharing memories and telling us of other amazing gardens they’ve seen during their walks. Neighbors stop when passing by and reach out to comment or ask questions.
There are many benefits to even the smallest green space – a balcony garden, a front step potted area, a terraced wall garden… they all contribute to making the world a better place. Gardeners, though, benefit the most from their protected homes, reduced energy costs, improved land value and full freezers and cupboards every year from the foods they produce. Herbs, for instance, can be very expensive and can be stored frozen or dehydrated for over a year. Just a few pots on the front step can yield all the herbs you can use; if they are very happy, you’ll have some to share as well.