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Let’s rebuild our cities for us and nature

I may have disappeared from blogging off and on this past year which is a privilege us bloggers can enjoy at times since even when we withdraw the stories remain. Us humans have the opportunity to step out and miss work or close down a company and take a break from our life. Nature can not step out and take a break or close down for without our pollinators we would not eat.

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This was after they finished the arch tear down and did not start the stucco. It left gardens all torn up and slowly I am working to put it back together

Our front house was having some remolding done to repair a flat roof two summers ago, and in the process, it led to significant construction jobs all over our city lot.  We have two more to complete this summer before most of the outside will be finally finished. My husband stained the entire house last summer which meant a lot of trampling on our garden beds. This summer I am hoping to restore our Urban Potager with more pollinator-friendly trees, bushes, and plants.

The people that sold us our house 18 yrs ago lived here for 30+ years but did not make the necessary repairs before we purchased the home in  1999. At that time we had young kids. We were busy running around and living our lives. We never did get around to address the problems inside or outside our home. You can only ignore the issues for so long. Eventually, the house shouts at you by breaking down!

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I planted more spring bulbs last fall  to feed the bees this Spring

Our house will be 50 yrs old this year, and due to unrepaired problems from the past 18 years we are playing catch-up right now, and our list is long. Our home is in an urban area just a few miles from the downtown area. It is not indeed a suburban area for we have bus service throughout the town. If you don’t have a car, you can walk to the top of the block and pick up a bus to go all over the greater Quad City area. I don’t have a huge lot but one large enough that I can squeeze many dwarfs or semi-dwarf fruit trees, and a variety of berry bushes in our city lot. I also grow annual vegetables and flowers together in a mix of color throughout our almost 1/3 acre lot. Back in the 60’s people built their homes on large enough lots to grow some food or have a few fruit trees. Today we just squeeze huge houses on small lots with no room for any type of food growing. However, there is always vertical and container growing possible in even the smallest spaces! Don’t give up if your city space is more modest.

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Our greater metropolitan area is 4 cities that are divided by the Great Mississippi River. Two towns are in Iowa, and the others are in Illinois. I live on the Illinois side. And my parents purchased a condo in a senior community on the Iowa side. After my parents moved here in 2016, I noticed each time I would visit them; more of the farmland was being torn up. The landscape was riddled with machines stripping black soil and leaving behind hard clay. They were destroying habitat for nature, and it appeared as they built new homes, condos or office building they were not replacing any of the landscape with pollinator-friendly trees, bushes or plants. It was void of birds. My mother would comment each time I would visit her property they had no birds.  When my parents would visit our home, they would hear birds singing and sit for hours in our Urban Potager listening to nature.

I understand this is what builders do, but it seemed unnecessary when we have older homes that can be refurbished. We can’t keep destroying beautiful land to build more homes and let our cities decay.  I thought the era of McMansion had disappeared, but no they are up and running again. Many of these homes are huge and not a tree or garden in sight. If they do have a garden, it is nothing more than a few carefully placed bushes. The homes are huge, but the lots are smaller. A”cookie cutter” neighborhood. They all look alike. Everyone has the same house but maybe a twist of a different bush or color scheme. It made me think of the movie Pleasantville back in 1998.

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Great River Trails passes through an industrial area of Rock Island, Illinois where they continue to redesign old factories with apartments.

I have to admit there have been times, I have wanted to move to a newer home and be free of all these repairs, but I know that if I don’t do it who will? I have an older home but not as old as the Victorian homes that line the streets in our community.  Many people are rebuilding the neighborhoods and trying to redesign our downtown area with more apartments in former factories. We need to restore our cities. We need to look at our older communities and keep what we have by improving. Many of the older neighborhoods in our area have lovely old trees for birds and pollinators. They have space to grow some food, and just a little TLC can make an older home a place to live and raise a family. The lady across the street from me is in her 70’s she moved from the country and purchased the home a few years ago from my 92-year-old neighbor. Our new neighbor moved in and fixed up the house. It was occurring at the same time we were repairing our home. I felt inspired!

On my block, I see many types of people rebuilding their older homes. We don’t all need to destroy nature, valuable farmland or keep expanding our cities outward to take up more forest land. We have to think what is best for the environment and ourselves.So this summer I challenge you all to put in more plants for nature on your property. If you live in an urban area like me tear up some of that water-guzzling grass; put in raised beds, pollinator-friendly plants, berry bushes or dwarf fruit trees. Let’s get our cities humming again!!!

What will you plant?

17 replies »

  1. An important message Robbie and one we are working on here in Ireland too. It is so important to plant for pollinators and nature, because at the end of the day it benefits us too. In the greenhouse i have more lupins, delphiniums and campnula waiting for the warmer weather to arrive, so i can plant them out! Happy planting!

  2. Glad you are carrying the banner, Robbie. 🙂 It makes me ill to see farmland being turned into housing tracts, as it happens here, esp. along the river bottoms of rich land. Greening cities is a worthy cause that benefits both people and wildlife. The greener, the better, I say!

  3. We restored our old maison de mȃitre which was built in 1723, so I know about the trials of renovating an old property and establishing a garden, but it was such a worthwhile project! Even in rural France there are major concerns about diminishing bee populations, so we have a bee hive and I find my choice of plants has changed as I look to plants that will nourish the bees all year round. Last year, kale that went to seed provided a fantastic source of flowers for the bees. Good luck with your refurbishing!

    • wow, 1723 that is fascinating! Here in my post I am talking about 50 yr old house in 2018. My house is a baby compared to 1723:-) So grateful to folks like you that keep our older homes up and running. We have some older homes in our downtown area that are from the 1800;s. I have friends that live in them and I admire the work they are doing. Often time they do the work themselves. I am useless when it comes to home reapair. My husband, too. He grew up in a city apartment. LOL However, I can build gardens and feed the bees. I love my native bees, I take my 4 yr old grandson around in the garden at night to show him the sleeping bumble bees in my flowers. He is amazed, and so am I how sweet they are and most people don’t even pay attention. They keep us all healthy:-)

  4. Oh, the timing of this post Robbie. It sounds strange but my husband and I have made the decision to do the exact opposite! We are going to get rid of our fruit trees! You have to understand that in our Florida lot we are actually on a double lot and the double is planted with ten fruit trees: apricot, avocado, peach, plum and even apple. They will never survive without copious amounts of fertilizer and irrigation. We’ve come to the conclusion to sell them and replant with native plants appropriate for a scrubland habitat. I am so thrilled with this idea! Especially since our fruit yield happens in summer when we are not here and is not superb without the water, fertilizer, constant maintenance. I want to plant some native trees that bear fruit not for me, but for the birds. I am excited to create this wildlife corridor. Each day I constantly see people reaping from the earth and it saddens me. I say we ask not what can the earth provide for us but what can we provided for the earth? We need to change our mindset and I love that you have called us out on constant new construction! My house here in Florida was built in 1927 I believe and my house up North, soon to be for sale, was built in 1876!

    • That sounds like a great solution for your situation:-) Why would you have fruit trees if you are not going be there to enjoy them! It makes sense. Plus you have your other wonderful place in the woods up North. You are doing a great job in preserving the lands for our wildlife. I thought 50 yrs old was “old” for a house-LOL-my house is in its infant stage!

      I say we ask not what can the earth provide for us but what can we provide for the earth? So TRUE!!! love that quote, I see a Blog post from this quote:-)

      • :-).you are a great writer..actually my grammarly caught it I have loaded on my computer! I , too make mistakes more often than not-just wish my phone would stop correcting my texts with words I don’t use-LOL…too funny had to share.

  5. My giant suburban house goes on the market this week and I wonder and worry about what will happen to the garden. I really hope it doesn’t end up being sprayed with Round Up by some lazy ass slug who can’t be bothered to water and enjoy what I created. I’ve pulled a lot of plants out of the garden but have more to rescue.

    • Oh My your beautiful garden, I can’t imagine ! Are you going to have a garden where you move? All that hard work, I can hardly imagine .I know some day I will have to pass it all on and like you I hope it is someone that will care!!!!

  6. Twenty strawberries and four blackberries went in last weekend. Corn and beans sown out yesterday. The nasturtium are thinking of budding up soon, as are the blueberries.

      • I have to get an early start. There’s not much to do (or desire to do it) come July and August when our “off season” hits because the heat took over.
        I’m glad you see you posting again. I’d missed you.

      • I hate the heat here in the late summer. There are some days I have to water twice a day! Not a good thing to have to do:-(
        I am glad to be back posting. It is too easy to wander off and never post..just get busy:-)

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