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Neighbors on our block use pesticides which means our food growing is in our backyard buffered by native + non native bushes for privacy + to add an extra layer of protection from chemical sprays

I am starting to see a society that is becoming too afraid to be different. If you want change, you have to stand up and make a statement. Yep, you may not find a lot of people following but eventually they will see that your ideas are not so far-fetched. For the good of nature + our health, we need to look at our urban areas and make changes that may not be the norm today. I believe they will eventually be the norm because there is no other way.

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I use native ninebark throughout our landscapes. I have 3 different cultivars. This is Coppertina which has this lovely orange-copper in the spring.

Why do we all have to follow a certain rule as to what is normal?? When normal is not working, well, we need to look for a different way.We need to think for ourselves.

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This is ninebark ( physocarpus opulifolius) Diablo

I grew up at a time in the 70’s when people thought for themselves. They were not afraid to think outside the box. It was good to find a new path or way to solve a problem. But lately, I am feeling like our society is too caught up depending on social media. We are becoming a society that is comparing all that we do in our life, for example, I need this or that because THIS is what so and so SAYS works, or I need. Aww… come on, think for yourself. Read and try some ideas. If they don’t work then try something different. Experiment, ponder and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

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The leaves are a deep purple color with a great shape. The bark provides winter interest.

I know I often talk about “making mistakes” because I believe it is how we learn. Don’t sit on the sidelines, just jump in and take a chance. Get in the game of change!You will never grow if you are too afraid of making mistakes in life. When did we ALL become afraid to make a mistake? The greatest contributions to our society were people willing to take a risk and see what might be a possibility.

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I added Cercis canadensis cultivar-Forest Pansy to our yard this spring. It was but a small stick and I did not know if it would make a show. But it did! It has these lovely  purple leaves that fade to a burgundy green as summer progresses. It is only about 3 feet tall right now!

I have been looking at the street I live on and my landscape. We need to make some changes.

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Our native blueberry bushes turn a lovely red in the fall. I just have to keep the bunnies from chewing mine to the ground. Fingers crossed we made it through last winter and they are starting to come back.

There are plants that are not tolerating our weather extremes, and they are not doing much for nature. I am spending more time pulling non-natives out and replacing them with native plants.

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When adding natives to your landscape you have to plan for times they may not look their best. I love cone flowers but these have seen better times in mid summer

I ordered more native prairie grass, Midwest USA types, yesterday to put in my landscape. I dove off the pier head first and will figure out how it will work on our city lot. Yep, I am daring to be different. No one has it on our street. I must admit, I am a bit nervous. It will be an adventure. I have no doubt, I will make mistakes, but through my mistakes I will learn. I searched on the internet for others doing the same; integrating native grasses on their city lot. I did not find too much and what I did find were a bit varied in their advice.

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As coneflower are fading out and providing food for the birds golden rod is emerging.
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As one plant fades another is ready to take its place

I have no idea if my “ideas” will work. I have to do something droughts are becoming more common each season. I need to find ways to limit the amount of grass in our landscape. I can’t keep the water guzzling lawn as the main ground cover. I will keep some, but I need to find other alternatives for the future. Shoot, California is taking out their lawns and the cities are giving them help to change theirs from grass to more drought tolerant green spaces. We need to start doing the same.

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Let me introduce you to my new “baby” edible  native American Cranberry bush that arrived here about a month ago

Natives seem the most logical approach since they have a deep root and can survive during long droughts. I  “dare to be different” and will continue making some changes this fall and in 2016.

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Viburnum trilobum is “knee high” and growing with some bush squash right now, but some day it will be between  6 to 12 feet wide and tall. It will provide berries for us and nature!

There will be some I have never tried before, but I am confident that through my “daring to be different” I will find a better way to landscape for the health of us and nature! Creating diversity on our city lot is an experiment, and some may need to be tamed to make sure they don’t take over my lot, but I am willing to take the chance. DON’T be afraid to be different! Stop standing on the sidelines and jump in the game of change!

Written by Robbie

M.S. Education, , Organic Gardener, soil + nature lover, former modern dancer

40 comments

  1. Bravo Robbie! Well said. I blame television for mass conformity. When I worked in the co-op I can’t tell you how many people would come into the store because something appeared on Dr. Oz – as long as he said it was okay, it was what you should do. I found it strange. My life has improved greatly by shutting off the tv. Don’t misunderstand, I still watch tv, but it is a show of my choosing and is usually for entertainment purposes only and only for about an hour an evening. Whenever I am in a public space, I am amazed at the amount of blaring televisions out there – on for what seems like 24/7! Just try to get away from one. The commercials, the news reel … Ahhhhh, makes me want to run away and scream. Even more strange, is the amount of people concerned if cable is available. My husband has clients that are searching for beautiful island getaway homes here and the number one question? Is cable available! Folks that’s not why you come here! I’ll take my weed-ridden, wild garden any day over a conventional barberry and burning bush landscape. I had planted Coppertina but it kept coming down with mildew so I ripped it out, but it self seeded and the seeds revert back to the native 9 bark which is what I have now. Have to try that Diablo, though. My cranberry bush is loaded and I just recently discovered the berries are edible for us – I planted for the birds but I think we have plenty. I will have to scour up some recipes! I will definitely be trying some new things next year as my husband and I plan to build a small cottage/cabin off the grid on our new lakefront property – now that will be some self sufficient thinking and planning. I look so forward to it! We have but ONE rule so far – there will not be any LAWN or mowing! The landscape will be as natural as possible with only a few paths of stone or some other way. It still amazes me how many people still turn to chemicals. Each spring the PREEN and the Round Up. We do need to wake up. I actually had someone tell me that I would be supporting my country by supporting the chemical companies as they are in trouble – I say good – they should be in trouble and our country needs to change.

    1. Amen Sister!!!Bravo to you too!!! Wow, you need a post on this-you expressed everything I wanted to add after I posted:-)I am the same with TV. I can’t stand to listen to those talk shows + I am tired of Dr. Oz:-) Half the time he is promoting products and really is trying to get people to purchase more “stuff” or “pills” to buy that cost an arm and leg-lol. Why not just food???
      My TV is at our control and only an hour in the evening and most often Independent films, education, BBC or PBS:-) I am tired of the lopsided news( both ways!) and reality shows that make me want to pull my hair out! How can people even watch that stuff?
      Oh, I had such a hard time finding that American cranberry. I had to get it from California this summer. Mine is knee high and I can hardly wait. I have some of our low ground cover native cranberry but my dog keeps running through the bed and tearing up the plants. I decided to give the high cranberry bush a try. I am so excited for myself and nature. I look forward to learning from you how to use them in our diet. I have read they have some seeds, so we shall see. I am excited!
      I am eager to see your new property, it will be beautiful! I would love to find some place on a lake, but we have to still fix this space up. I put two waist high raised beds in my eating area. I am excited to see how they work. It is a learning experience every day in our urban potager:-)
      Thank you for posting, I was feeling a bit like-maybe I should of not complained-LOL-but I can’t keep my mouth shut when I see something that needs to be change!

      1. I will be adding more raised beds Robbie – easier to maintain, they warm up quicker in the spring, easier to amend. I figure more raised beds will give me a little more order. I can’t seem to keep my paths weeded. I don’t want to spend time weeding paths that can be spent weeding and nurturing other plants! I don’t see your post as a complaint. I love your well thought out posts!

      2. I agree-the weed free paths is becoming a pain for me too! I am cleaning out mine this fall so I don’t get that PO again-that was the worst this year. It is people like you and Eliza that give me support and make me feel-I am not alone out here fighting for nature on my city block. There are others out in the world that feel the same…..our blogs connect us and give us the push to keep on keeping on-lol

  2. Everyone wants to be different these days but it’s amazing how many people actually walk the same old familiar societal pathways so that they don’t stand out and get “picked off” by societies pointy fingers ;). You are dead right about social media. I see people all around me jumping onto the same old bandwagons and following everyone else around like cows with nose rings. What is happening people?! I think, because we were both born last century (doesn’t that make us sound ancient 😉 ) we have a different perspective on social media. We were born prior to mass use of computers and the world was a much smaller place then. I love being able to catch up with all sorts of things around the world. I love being able to access a HUGE volume of information for free (at the moment…) and I also love being able to chat with people (like we are now) over the net. I met Stevie-boy online. I rest my case BUT in saying that, we are over-connected. People are slaves to their mobile devices. I know, I am learning about machinations of mobiles and it’s all tied up with the holy dollar in the end. All of this social media is designed to “SELL, SELL, SELL!” We are all becoming tied to “the man” and conditioned to believe everything that we see and “Pass it on meme style”. You are a wonderful reminder to us all to step out of the limelight (the promise of 15 seconds of fame is NOT worth it folks) and get back to the real world that is ticking along merrily without us. Life lived in the real world, is real life indeed and the rewards are endless :). How could anyone not love your gorgeous garden Robbie. I would love to be a mole basking in that glorious green but then I would have to take my “Chances” wouldn’t I? Sorry about that bad pun. Couldn’t help myself 😉

    1. lol:-) Yes, you would be taking your chances!I am not going to be a slave to the internet- I do ENJOY all the FREE information at my finger tips!:-) Content is being created daily to sell”something” to people through offering ‘free” content or information etc. It is free at the moment but people are “hooking” others into feeling like they are getting something for nothing + in between the lines they are selling something. It is driving the internet business. I am careful where I go and gather information:-) I don’t blame people for trying to make a living on the internet but the lines get “blurry” when you are chatting with people and feel there is a “connection” or “friendship” and then you feel like you are being sold something. It is good for artists but sometimes you just have to know the people.
      I have noticed people sometimes visit a blog to comment only to draw comments to their blogs…hmmm…I visit people to make comments because I like what they had to say, or created , or enjoyed their blog. I comment on more blogs with one person ( just the way it rolls sometimes) as a follower! As I stay on here, I am finding a core group of people I visit + the rest , I just sort of ignore and let them be for they are in it for the goal of having traffic…I believe in “quality” vs “quantity.” I feel you are in the group of “quality.”
      I was visiting your new blog the other day to make sure I did not miss a post + thought, I just love her new blog-original + beautiful!
      So glad I get to visit you each week! Both you and Steve have created a great life where you live + so glad to have you in my over the cyber fence “quality” people!!!!!!

      1. 🙂 Due to make some more posts soon. The problem is I get SO much computer time at TAFE now that when I come home I would rather eat my own feet than get stuck into more 😉

      2. I have caught the crochet bug in a BIG way. Currently working through promised dolls, hats, macrame pot hangers (got to have a rest sometimes 😉 ) and other things till I can get to the light at the end of the tunnel and start experimental crocheting for my pleasure. Can’t wait! Also got to get Sanctuary up and running again. A BIG remodel is on the cards to adapt to our upcoming hot conditions (we have a couple of HUGE bales of straw to mulch and we are remodeling the garden beds to be more efficient etc.) and have to get some babies started off in the glasshouse ready to plant out AND deal with those pesky rats! Coming to visit your garden is like a breath of fresh air. I love every single post 🙂

      3. aww…I needed that today:-) It is hotter than you know what out there! Chance and I watered early this morning and checked on some fall crops. I played ball with him and ran inside to finish some other projects.
        Crochet-I wish I had even a little talent in that arena.I admire you and have seen your dolls-beautiful! I can’t sit still long enough and I feel all thumbs with needle work:-) My grandmother made me feel like I had no talent in that arena-lol She was quite adept at that stuff, so I did other things:-)
        I agree about getting ready for more drought conditions. I was out there today and watered just the seedlings. I looked at my grass and figured I will be losing more this fall when I put in some native ( to our area) dropseed grass. It is good for the birds and has a deep root. It looks nice in the landscape edging a bed + from what I read nature likes it a lot too. It will be an adventure. I have my fingers crossed it will look nice-this is what it will look like in 3 years-
        http://hoffmannursery.com/very-versatile-prairie-dropseed/
        They say 3 years but I love how graceful it feels in the landscape. I love movement!

      4. A couple of years ago I saw some “grass” being sold in pots near a little bench on one of our early morning dog walks. It was only $2 a pot so I made Stevie-boy drive me back and we bought all three pots of it. It’s now doing amazing things in the garden and survives no matter what (no watering) so I am actively going to plant a LOT more ornamental grasses. I have a mini striped bamboo type grass that people have warned me “it will take over…” “GOOD!” I say. Let it. It’s better than the weeds and dust that are there at the moment ;). We all need to be clever and to learn to adapt. There are a tonne of plants out there that are suitable for our newly challenged conditions and that will happily grow and flourish, we just need to take the time to find them and source them and grow them. Happiness is someone who uses their brains to get what they want. A most eminently satisfying experience on all realms 🙂

      5. 🙂 + the wise Fran knows how it works:-) I agree with your approach. I am doing the same. Some natives don’ t work on my lot ( or site) for they need a cool/moist soil which I don’t have and it takes me watering them to survive. I have to find those that can survive my harsh, humid summers. It can get bone dry out there when it gets into the 90’s like this week + I have to keep my water for food plants. “Happiness is someone who uses their brains to get what they want”- so true!

      6. Have you considered olla’s in your garden by the way? Just found some interesting tutorials on how to make them and am going to make some out of terracotta pots to add to my garden mix this year :).

      7. Yes, I have! Great idea:-) Do send the tutorial/link on how to make them for they are a bit pricey. They would be lovely in the garden beds + have been around since early times:-) I look forward to reading about how you add them to your place:-)

      8. I was thinking about my comment about content/social media and business on the internet. I wanted to add- I like a company that utilizes social media as a platform to get their message out in the public eye. A place Where they answer or address questions for customers. Smaller companies actually post on their business and let you get up and “personal” with their cause and product. THey use social media to explain their products how they are made, where , people creating and how they make a difference.
        I enjoy reading their free content and purchasing from them– they are “doing business” to change our world. If I ever had a business in the future that would be my goal. To solve a problem with something I can create:-) to help make a difference:-) So free content provides information for all + social media used ( in this way) to connect customers with the faces behind a products is a better business model for our future. I like the small business that cares and tries to make a difference in the world.:-) tHey will get my business!

      9. That’s the sort of businesses that I follow as well. Blogs are the worst in the social media “lets get on the bandwagon and flog things to poor unsuspecting followers who think that we are having a chat…” As soon as a blog starts to push the products that they got for free, unless they are ethical and pertinent to the blog and what I am interested in of course, I am OFF. Once bloggers start selling other people’s freebies, that’s when they have taken on another agenda. If a blogger gives away or sells their own products, no problemo. It’s their business model and it’s a good idea. Things like cookbooks and craft books don’t worry me. It’s when they start getting “free stuff” and pushing it because they want more. Nope, sorry, not this little black duck. I can get random advertising generated at me when I open my emails. I don’t need extra’s ;). SO glad we met Robbie, I love your ethos 🙂

      10. I agree totally! I enjoy having conversations on here about posts that were written.Advice from others that might help me solve or address some of my garden problems. I enjoy hearing from others and find comments- a great way to learn from other like-minded souls. I also hate it when blogs become filled with “click” throughs. The worst are the popular bloggers that have so many comments from people trying to draw traffic from their blog that the blog owner does not even answer any of the comments. They leave them unanswered. I don’t have a lot of traffic but people (like yourself and others you know too) that do stop by and join in the conversation are helping myself/others out with solutions. We all build a community of helpful people. It seems to “weed” itself out over time-lol-that sort of fit! People that are there to “help” come back and and we share the desire to reach out and help others-hope this makes sense. I enjoy it when we visit similar blogs and take part of the conversation in other places over the cyber fence. I learn so much from those posts:-) You have had many!

        I can’t wait to see your garden growing this winter + I can stop by and learn more from you:-)

        I just said to Don (my husband) the other night, I really like Fran’s blogs ( Steves, too) and what they are doing where they live. Really “authentic souls”…yep, you are truly a gem-I am glad to have met you on here too!

      11. We have a mutual admiration society going on Ms Robbie. So many of us all united in trying to make the world a better place. You can’t help but feel better whenever the world gets you down, to know that you aren’t alone in your endeavours and that we are all supporting your excellent work 🙂

      12. I had to wait to finish that comment for my computer went off line-LOL- I had to reboot and it was left with this hodge podge of messed up thoughts. My cat climbed up on my lap and pushed my key board and made a mess. She loves to sit on my lap when I am writing on my blog/commenting. Well, it makes more sense but may not make too much sense:-)

      13. Thank goodness Earl doesn’t want to do the same! He just trotted in at 4.30am, lay down for a bit (Bezial already mooched out at 3.30am and is on his sofa near Brunhilda) and just went back to bed with Stevie-boy. What would we do without our animals? 🙂

  3. I’m with you Robbie. I took out all the lawn here. I put stepables in the front. It’s growing and spreading quite nicely. Creeping thyme and many others. They will cover the ground so it doesn’t need water and I don’t have to mow. Each season it spreads a bit better. I had a neighbor bring some round up to kill my weeds. He hasn’t spoken to me since I refused it and told him I do an organic yard. No chemicals. I pull by hand or use vinegar where I can. Bark dust went out back to kill out the grass and planter boxes are being built. with companion planting in mind. No mowing or watering. I’m planting the stuff that grows here naturally too. Then nurseries, not the big box or discount stores can advise on that best. We finally have rain again but this was the driest summer on record. I’m getting ready for the worst.

    1. AMEN SISTER!!! That is so amazing:-) You are making change happen RIGHT where you are + WOW- in such a big way. I did read your last post and was impressed with how you used ALL your
      space. It looked exhausting all your work:-) I don’t envy you in the early stages ( I remember the early days in our space!) of creating the space. It is a lot of work but so rewarding. I can’t wait to read more about your space as it grows this next year.
      One day, I noticed two of my neighbors talking over the fence with their “round-up” containers in hand. I understand they believe that is the way, I did many moons ago. I know better now and hope over time they will become aware— they don’t need those chemicals! I am putting more native grasses as ground cover ( low growing ones) up front in my flower beds to help with soil erosion and help keep the moisture in the bed longer when we have our humid summers.
      We are going to be prepared when droughts become the norm:-)

  4. I’m so glad I visited your blog today, Robbie. Your spirit of inquisitive adventure is inspiring – as are your beautiful bountiful garden experiments and photos.

    1. aww Carol-I feel the same way about you:-) You help people + change them from within with your wisdom:-) My entire city lot is an experiment.As I watered today I thought, the creatures that live in my yard don’t mind it when it goes through an ugly stage-sort of like when you are between haircuts-LOL! They just love hiding and wandering in the space created to keep them safe…..Chance-my dog missed two bunnies today for they shot past me and I did not tell on them!

    1. You comment makes me think of—when I was talking to my oldest daughters preschool teacher (years ago-lol) and she said, ” She is such a free spirit” + ” she goes to her own beat” as if it were a negative. You are right they try to make us square pegs fit into round holes-never works! That is why I enjoy your blog, I can see you are an individual with a great sense of humor and beautiful garden:-)

    1. 🙂 I got the dropseed + blue stem- natives last week + put them in our collage of a garden. My fingers are crossed they will work where I put them:-)

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