New Gardener or a peek at what The New Garden looks like, you need go no further than the Don Mills, Ontario, garden of Siri Luckow. It’s not hard to miss: it’s the only one on the street with a front yard planted in a naturalistic style, with ornamental grasses, birdattracting wildflowers and a rain garden that sequesters excess water from the rain chains that hang from the eaves of her house. And that’s what you might see at a glance. A closer look reveals rain barrels, bee and insect houses, nesting boxes, a bat house, a veggie garden and a green roof atop the garage. “As a race, humans are not that old,” says Siri, “so our connection with the earth is important.” If tending The New Garden sounds like a lot of work, it’s not she says. But it’s important to do your homework. Siri did extensive research at the Weston Family Library before designing each one of her gardens, beginning in 1999 with the wildlife-friendly shrubbery border in the backyard. “It starts with the plants,” she says. “If you plant it and have made the right accommodations, the wildlife will come.” In fact, Siri has spotted honeybees that she speculates must be buzzing through her garden from their hives at the Toronto Botanical Garden. The birds in her yard are so
at home they fly around her head when she tends the bird feeders. “Start in a small corner and replace some of your current plants with native flowers, shrubs, grasses and trees,” she advises. “Natives don’t need a lot: they want to settle in and see what’s there, so be patient.” Siri used hula hoops to slowly transform the sod of her front lawn into circular beds filled with plants that attract wildlife. In one circle she planted ornamental grasses, in another she grew coneflowers, in a third she added butterfly bushes, and in another she started mountain mint. The change was so striking and so beneficial to wildlife that her garden garnered an environmental award. Always looking for the next opportunity to attract the wildlife she loves to be around, Siri plans to talk to her neighbours about replacing an old hedge along the driveway with a mixed planting of bird- and critter-friendly shrubs. Her collaboration with her neighbours has certainly worked in the past. The hoptree (Ptelea trifolia) she convinced one neighbour to plant in her front lawn attracted a rare giant swallowtail after five years of patient waiting. Grow the right plants, and they will come! Garden writer Lorraine Flanigan is editor of Trellis and a Master Gardener.
Essential reading for The New Gardener • 100 Easy-to-Grow Native Plants for • Growing and Propagating Canadian Gardens, L. Johnson Wildflowers of the United States • A Garden for Life, and Canada, W. Cullina D. Beresford-Kroeger • Keeping the Bees, L. Packer • Arboreteum America, • Landscaping with Native Trees, D. Beresford-Kroeger et al. G. Sternberg & J. Wilson • Bioplanning a North Temperate • Native Alternatives to Invasive Garden, D. Beresford-Kroeger Plants, Brooklyn Botanic Garden • Bringing Nature Home, • Native Trees, Shrubs & Vines, D.W. Tallamy W. Cullina • Butterfly Gardening: Creating a • Planting the Natural Garden, Butterfly Haven in Your Garden, P. Oudolf & H. Gerritsen T.E. Emmel • Rain Gardens, L.M. Steiner & • Creating Small Habitats for Wildlife R.W. Damm in Your Garden, J. Briggs • Silence of the Songbirds, • Green Roof Plants, Bridget Stutchbury E. Snodgrass & L. Snodgrass • Small Green Roofs, N. Dunnett et al. torontobotanicalgarden.ca
• The American Meadow Garden, J. Greenlee & S. Holt • The American Woodland Garden, R. Darke • The Color Encyclopedia of Ornamental Grasses, R. Darke • The Natural Garden Book: A Holistic Approach to Gardening, P. Harper • The Natural Habitat Garden, K. Druse • The New Gardening for Wildlife: A Guide for Nature Lovers, B. Merrilees • The Organic Home Garden, P. Lima • The Weather-Resilient Garden, C.W.G. Smith —compiled by Siri Luckow, Weston Family Library
the New garden • spring 2014
PHOTOS: courtesy Siri luckow
Lorraine Flanigan talks with Siri Luckow, a TBG volunteer, who explains how easy it is to make a garden that nourishes both her and her family and the wildlife around them.