Good Gardening: Nature Heals

Jan 8, 2018

Credit John Fischer

Next time you are outside- during the daylight, and I know there is not much of it, look around, and behold the amazing power of time, and nature.

One year ago, the ground was littered with fallen tree limbs, the power was still out in thousands of homes, and clean-up from the great ice storm was in full swing.

The area looked like a tornado had come through.

If you moved to the Willamette Valley recently, and didn't know the storm had happened, you would be hard pressed to see the effects today.  Of course people who lost large trees now have more sun, and less shade. Perhaps less fruit too.

But overall, nature did a great job of healing broken limbs, and sending up new shoots from snapped off plants.  And there is a lesson here that can both inspire, and save a lot of work. 

Everything will be fine - even without our intervention.  When a something is broken, we want to fix it.  But as large tracts of forest, and many landscape plants have proven, sometimes benign neglect is the best maintenance program.

And this concept goes beyond storm damage to lawn care, moss removal, and the like. Maybe we don't need such a high level of fertilizer input, weed removal, and ecosystem management to be pleased with our surroundings. 

I'm not suggesting that you stop pruning your fruit trees or rose bushes, but I am suggesting we all reconsider how important people are in the landscape compared to natural processes.  

Experimenting with new maintenance concepts in small areas, or hidden corners of your yard might be a good way to start.  And on these cold winter days, the leave well enough alone maintenance mantra is appealing for a lot of reasons.