“Earth has no sorrow that earth cannot heal,” said John Muir known as the father of national parks. The three books I’ve written about this week surely prove the truth of his words.Three book reviews follow.
Attracting Birds, Butterflies and other Backyard Wildlife
Every day, in the newspaper or on the evening TV news, there seems to be a story about the continuing extinction of one million creatures and plants. The United Nations just released a report about nature’s dangerous decline and the unprecedented species extinction rates that are accelerating. It is hard to comprehend what this means to us. It’s hard to worry so much. After all, didn’t The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe begin with “Don’t Panic.”
And yet. And yet the Guide talks about the ‘interconnectedness of all things.’ There is proof that our declining biodiversity is dangerous for all of us humans. Is there anything we can do in our small part of the world? My own answer has to be yes. And the National Wildlife Federation’s new book, Attracting Birds, Butterflies, and other Backyard Wildlife by David Mizejewski (24.99) tells us some of the things we can do to protect our environment.
Here in Greenfield we have been talking a lot about supporting pollinators which includes many species from bees, butterflies, many other insects like hoverflies, and wasps, as well as birds and bats. Mazejewski’s book provides us with information to support all the creatures in our area. He can teach us how to “act locally” as we “think globally.”
Mizjewski begins by telling us how to begin, and goes on to explain the food web, the importance of water in the garden for creatures, how to provide cover for creatures so they can hide from predators, and providing places for birds to raise their young. The importance of using native plants is stressed.
There is a great list of nectar plants for pollinators (which will also provide pollen) including butterflies. I appreciated the information about bird feed which includes grapefruit and orange slices that can hang on trees.
Little Free Libraries and Tiny Sheds
As a former librarian I love and recognize the necessity for libraries, including little free libraries. My Texas grandson’s Eagle Scout project was designing and overseeing the building of a little free library several years ago. He was at the forefront of starting this delightful and generous way of sharing books while creating a charming landscape element. Little Free Libraries and Tiny Sheds: 12 Miniature Structures You Can Build by Philip Schmidt and the Little Free Library (Cool Springs Press $24.99) will give you instructions on making your own Little Free Library.
Tod H. Boll, the founder of the Little Free Library Foundation, built the first little free library in memory of his mother, a lifelong reader and educator. He built that first little free library and was amazed at the way his neighbors who stopped to look at the books enjoyed conversations with their neighbors in ways they had not before. That was the beginning of his idea, an idea that became a plan to inspire literacy and community. After he gave away 30 little free libraries in 2010 the idea began to grow. There are now more than 75,000 Little Free Libraries around the world. Some of them are in Greenfield!
Some owners of the little free libraries used them for books, sometimes concentrating on children’s books so to encourage children to read. Some added seed packets to share, or non-perishable food for those who might be in need. Owners have found many ways to build and decorate these little structures.
The book gives detailed lists of equipment and materials needed, and clear construction information. Each one is unique. Some simple and elegant, some brilliant and colorful. Needless to say my attention was captured by the Flower Box. The idea of blooming flowers above a collection of books that might encourage the blooming of ideas of the readers was very appealing. My only quibble is that the actual flower box element was not deep enough, but it is easily altered to give plant roots more room.
The Gardener Says
The Gardener Says: Quotes, Quips, and Words of Wisdom ($15.95) compiled and edited by Nina Pick makes it clear that working in the garden is not simply labor. It is a place to find happiness. At least that is what John Muir, the father of national parks must have been thinking when he said “Earth has no sorrow that earth cannot heal.”
The poet Walt Whitman was a very down to earth poet. He spoke with exuberance. “Behold this compost! Behold it well!” That is certainly what I do when I get another load of compost for my Greenfield garden. Karel Capek, Hungarian author, gardener and humorist is of a similar mind. He said “If a gardener were to go to the garden of Eden he would sniff intoxicatedly and say, ‘There’s humus here, by God!’”
We don’t always know where we are going or what we are doing in the garden. Mirabel Osler , English author and garden designer said, “It is no doubt that gardening sparks off harebrained ideas.” Ask my husband. He’ll concur. Canadian author Margaret Atwood simply said, “Gardening is not a rational activity.”
The Gardener Says is a gift that will amuse and delight anyone on your list. You’ll enjoy it too.###