I came up gardening through my career as a naturalist. Growing up in western Ohio, we had a large backyard vegetable garden, strawberry patch and planted marigolds, touch-me-nots and daffodils in the flower bed. I loved being in the dirt planting seed and did a handful of garden-related 4-H projects. But what really got me hooked on wildlife gardening was the landscaping at Castlewood Canyon State Park, my first full-time job after college.
Suddenly, I was shocked and mystified as to why someone would plant the big box common flower bed perennials around a visitor center meant to induce people into exploring the nature and uniqueness of the canyon. Didn’t the wildlife – the birds, the butterflies, the pollinators – prefer native species? Wasn’t the wildlife here because of the natural area being protected?