If you're a fellow St. Louisan, you're probably still trying to dry your webbed feet. If not, you likely saw it on the news: Last week's rainfall broke a more than 100-year record, causing flash floods across the region. The previous high-water mark dated to 1915, when remnants of a hurricane off Galveston, TX, dumped 6.85 inches here in the Lou. That record was obliterated last week, with totals of 8.64 inches recorded at Lambert Airport.
Last month we hosted a Wild Ones membership tour, with around 50-70 people total visiting our garden across two tour dates. They asked a lot of great questions, and many of those questions centered around our decision to go lawn-free throughout the entire backyard, which comprises the majority of our 1/4-acre. Since going lawn-free is central to our design, and it's part of the reason we achieved platinum status in the St. Louis Audubon Society's Bring Conservation Home program in just three years, many were intrigued. I think it's worthy of a treatment here on the blog, so I'll run through a list of Frequently Asked Questions about lawn-free living.
Our garden was featured in the summer 2022 issue of the national publication Wild Ones Journal. Wild Ones features a member garden in each issue, and we were honored to be chosen for this summer's issue. Editor Barbara A. Schmitz interviewed both Anthony and me over the phone, and I provided photos to illustrate the piece. It was a real treat to talk with Barbara, who asked good questions and gave the garden its due, in spades.
I'm so full of enthusiasm for the two beautiful herbs above that I hardly know how to start talking about them. They tick just about every box on the list! What are they? American mountain mint, or Pycnanthemum pilosum (above left) Anise hyssop, or Agastache foeniculum (above right) Regular readers of this blog know I've talked previously about "stacked functions," which is a permaculture term for a plant with multiple (or stacked) uses, ranging from replenishing your garden soil to serving as your next meal. Both mint and hyssop excel in this area. But even if you're not into that permie stuff, you should know that these plants are the gifts that keep on giving... and giving. Let me break it down for you.
You know that bittersweet feeling you have when you get to the end of your favorite novel, and you're reluctant to leave the beloved world of the novel behind as it ends, but you're satisfied for the experience? I felt the same way when I finished Paige Embry's Our Native Bees.
Here in St. Louis, folks often quote Mark Twain as having once opined: If you don't like the weather in Missouri, just wait a few minutes.
An odd thing happened to me this year: I got the Christmas spirit. No, I wasn't visited by ghosts in the middle of the night. I'm actually not sure why it happened. Lisa thinks it's because our son is staying with us this holiday season before he ships off to Navy bootcamp. That might be it. It might also be that I've just reached the age where any reason to feel warm and snuggly is a good enough reason.
I fell hard for the bees last year when I joined a citizen-science program called Shutterbee. So I signed up again this year, and... I think my crush has grown into a full-blown obsession!
We received our third conservation award this summer - this time from the organization Wild Ones, which promotes native plant gardening. They've designated our yard a Native Plant Butterfly Garden. We're now part of a network of gardens providing needed habitat for butterflies across the United States.
When we began growing annual vegetables last year, we came to the task with at least some experience, but we certainly had a lot to learn. Still, I'm amazed by how much food we're getting already out of our little 1/4-acre homestead habitat.