This year I am keeping an online facebook album of all the native plants in my garden to see what is blooming when and to get to know my plants better. That may sound odd to some but I admit to being in love with my gardens, as messy as they sometimes look. The systems that work together both above and below ground fascinate me. Unfortunately I can't get underground to take the photos I want and study that as much as I like to but I know if I'm doing right by my plants up above, I'm helping the soil down below.
I don't use any fertilizers or herbicides in my gardens or lawn. Everything seems to work out as it should. I welcome all the bugs and insect and love to watch the predator/prey story unfold and keep things in check.
Planting native plants is very field of dreams. If you plant it, they will come. I try to make my gardens as inviting as I can to any creatures who want to visit.
I highly recommend keeping an album or log of what is happening in your garden. You will start to understand it better and your relationship will grow stronger making you more of an advocate for getting those native plants in the ground.
One great resource is The Ohio State Phenology Calendar. Phenology is the the study of cyclic and seasonal natural phenomena, especially in relation to climate and plant and animal life. On a larger scale, this record keeping is important to study when things bloom in relation to previous years and how that affects what needs that plant to live and vice versa. Check it out and keep your own records.
Phenology wheels are a fun way to keep a nature journal. You can use them for anything you like. Several years ago after I learned about them, I brought blank ones on vacation and gave them to my nieces and nephews to journal our time together. It wasn't related to the garden but it was so fun to see how they captured their week. I called them Memory Wheels. Each day they drew a picture or wrote something about that day. They are intended for journaling nature but feel free to use them any way you like. Google phenology wheels to find examples. We have used Partners in Place which has downloadable pdfs of the wheels.
Get to know your plants - I promise you won't be disappointed!
Blog author: Amy Roskilly, Conservation Education Program Manager