I’m several years into the conversion of my yard to a more native plant-dominant landscape and the changes have been profound. Partly driven by being home more with remote working, but partly due to being more consciously mindful of my surroundings, I have been struck by the sheer volume of life there is in and around my gardens.

From a distance my yard has a lot more curb appeal than in the past. The succession of flowers following the arc of the spring into summer and the range of colors just look nice. But it is upon further inspection that things really get interesting. The focus of a lot of the teachings put forth by APCC is on pollinator friendly gardens and many of us, me included, equate pollinators with bees. What I have learned through observation is that pollinators come in all types, shapes, sizes and colors and they are fascinating to watch. The amount of life these plants attract exceeds any expectations I had. And are they busy! Just taking the time to watch what is happening outside my home office window provides a refreshing mental break when one is needed as continued validation of, and inspiration for, the work we do.

Like many of us heeding the advice to prevent spread of the bird disease to our south and west, I have taken down my bird feeders. It was hard for me, as I love the activity of the birds in the yard. What I have observed is that the drop off in bird activity was less than I expected because the insects that are living in and around the gardens still attract and support a wide variety of bird life. Watching the Carolina wren that set up a nest in my gutter take short flights to and from the nearby plants to gather food for its nestlings told me all I needed to know to validate the wisdom of returning a yard to something that no longer fights with, but supports, nature.

So often in our busy lives and short attention spans we look without seeing. When it comes to understanding nature, appreciating its complexity and learning how to make simple choices that enhance natural systems, taking the time to stop and really look is more important than ever. It’s good for your soul as well.