Your Garden

Your Garden

Understand your garden and make it a welcome place for biodiversity.

You can get purposeful exercise by raking up the leaves off the paths and lawn in your garden. Pile them up under bushes and around trees. As you do this you will observe and learn. Plants and tree roots will be protected from drying out. The nutrients in the fallen leaves that fed the trees now are absorbed back into the soil. You will see many different creatures that hide out over winter under leaves.

Insect diversity is literally burned up by leaf blowers and chopped up by mowers. So often is it mentioned that, 20 years ago when one went for a drive in summer the car windshield would be covered in insects. Not so anymore. Every year, about 2.6 million tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to 6.4 million barrels of oil, are emitted into the air in the US by leaf blowers alone. See all about the human health and environmental dangers of leaf blowers below.



Plant native trees and plants.

Our native insects have co-evolved to live on native plants. Take those plants away and the insects will die and so will the birds, unable to find the caterpillars their fledglings depend on for food. Below is a summary of a study about fledgelings dying of starvation because the parents could not find enough caterpillars to feed their young.

Importance of native plants

Disregard the present garden aesthetic

Resist the pressures of social conformity to make your garden look as neat and as tidy as your dining room. Let your garden be wild. You will be well supported in this endeavor by the renowned entomologist and author, Douglas Tallamy and many other prominent landscape designers and environmentalists. See Douglas Tallamy’s website below for gardens in your area that are growing native plants.

Douglas Tallamyn's website

Our Habitats at Marshlands

Here you will see a living natural environment. Leaves and plant stalks in the conservancy are left on the ground over the winter, to decompose, enrich the soil, add a protective layer for roots, and to provide shelter for numerous creatures that will emerge from underneath them come spring.


Leaves are the food factories for trees. When leaves fall to the ground in autumn, their nutrients are returned to the soil by decomposition, naturally fertilizing the soil. The woolly bear caterpillars (larvae) of the isabella tiger moth (Pyrrharctia isabella) and the spectacular giant leopard moth (Hypercompe scribonia) are just a few of the creatures that look for a safe place to hibernate in winter beneath a protective layer of dead leaves.

The woolly bear caterpillar (larva) of the isabella tiger moth (Pyrrharctia isabella) spends the winter dormant under the leaf litter beneath an insulated blanket of snow. In spring, these woolly bears become active, form a cocoon, and metamorphose into isabella tiger moths. The woolly bear caterpillar (larva) of the giant leopard moth (Hypercompe scribonia) also hibernates over the winter. In spring, it will also spin itself into a cocoon to metamorphose into a giant leopard moth (Hypercompe scribonia)

The wooly bear caterpillar (larva) of the isabella moth (Pyrrharctia isabella) —  Wikipedia - Bruce Hallman

Isabella tiger moth (Pyrrharctia isabella) — Wikipedia-Steve Jurvetson


Dead grasses or flowers are not cut or mowed in the fall. Their seeds will provide food for birds all winter long.

The insides of dead, hollow stalks shelter many creatures, including some of the over 4,000 species of native bees, 70 percent of which lay their eggs in nests made in the ground or in dried-out hollow stalks. Emerging in spring, native bees are one of the essential early pollinators of many plants, including the first blossoms of the native red maple (Acer rubrum), and apple tree (Malus domestica). Most native bees are solitary, have no colony to defend, are not aggressive, and are essential for pollination. (See

Pesticides and herbicides, which have been responsible for destroying ecosystems and indiscriminately killing innumerable native plants and native insects, pests and non-pests alike, are avoided in favor of mechanical removal whenever possible.

Decomposing leaves, trees, and branches, on the property of the conservancy, are used to mulch the land. Store bought mulch, often artificially colored, and baked in factories to kill off beneficial insects and mold spores, is never used at the conservancy.

The woolly bear caterpillar (larva) of the giant leopard moth (Hypercombe scribonia) — Wikipedia-Micha L. Rieser

Giant leopard moth (Hypercompe scribonia) — Wikipedia- Jeremy Johnson