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Kid and his cat at Pets for Life event

On the concrete front porch of this rundown row house, along a narrow street in a rough neighborhood named Hunting Park, eight men sit outside drinking one October afternoon. Two pit bulls and a small dog lie at their feet; the adjoining house next door has boards across its first-floor windows...

Article
Michael Sharp
Bird and babies in the nest tucked in a tree trunk

It’s not easy to accept that all things must eventually come to an end. We often go into denial in the face of the inevitable and airbrush away the aftermath when it does occur. So it probably shouldn’t have surprised me to read about a gardener who glossed over the demise of an entire tree with...

Article
BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER
Portrait of Denise Young with her dog Drama.
Article
By Danielle S. Tepper
baby robin sitting in a nest

Here lies Lucy: expert pilot, supermodel, squirrel eviscerator, custom homebuilder, attentive mother and devoted mate. RIP. If she were human, Lucy might be commemorated this way, her life story etched in granite. She might take her place in a family plot beneath her favorite lookout, a weeping...

Article
BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER
Article
Michael Sharp
A frog jumps to safety out of a pool using a ramp to rejoin the other frogs on the safety of the grass

It seemed like a good idea at the time: Buy a house with a two-acre property, let our energetic herding dog have the run of the place and spend blissful summer days digging side by side in the dirt with her. And it was blissful, watching Mattie carve out her napping spots behind the ferns and tall...

Article
By Nancy Lawson, author of The Humane Gardener
Mother and three kids on a nature walk

We zigzag from tree to tree, seeking refuge under the leaf umbrellas. Drizzle turns to deluge as we dash beneath a tall canopy to plot our escape. The sky booms. My dad takes my hand, and I look up to see if he shares my sense of foreboding. But he’s smiling at me, his eyes twinkling. He says...

Article
BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER
DIY painted bird baths made from clay pots

As a new homeowner susceptible to sales pitches from the garden industrial complex, I spent my early planting years salivating over glossy magazine spreads exploding with color and texture and promises of endless summers. “Flower porn” was how my husband described those lushly photographed...

Article
By Nancy Lawson, author of The Humane Gardener
Photo illustration of a dim light bulb with illustrated butterflies

On summer evenings, my husband and I head to the darkest spot of our property to look for the light—in the form of fireflies rising from meadow grasses and twinkling their way into the trees. As the tulip poplars behind this spectacular display settle in for slumber, white yucca flowers open their...

Article
BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER
three bats hanging upside down

They inhabit the ruins of a 14th-century empire in Africa, cling to 800-year-ol cliffside dwellings in Arizona, forage in old Indian temples and European churches and occupy the decidedly less grand crawl spaces of our modern homes. As the world’s only true flying mammals, bats know how to get...

Article
BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER
monarch butterfly on a milkweed flower

Much of what we do in the name of aesthetics comes at a cost to our overall well-being. From fad diets to chemical peels to cosmetic surgeries, beauty routines attempt to squash what’s natural in favor of an unattainable and short-lived “otherness.” The mindset isn’t limited to the treatment of our...

Article
By Nancy Lawson, author of The Humane Gardener
a dog points in a field of grass and wildflowers as a rabbit looks on

Many Marches ago, as I mindlessly contorted myself to pull a deep-rooted weed from the garden patch, my thoughts turned longingly to the smell of fresh basil that would eventually grace what I saw as a still-barren vegetable graveyard. This spot was not so lifeless as it appeared, I would soon learn...

Article
By Nancy Lawson, author of The Humane Gardener
Hummingbird stopping at a flower to eat

The distant view from Kelly Brenner’s Seattle living room was enviable, a testament to the engineering marvels of modern human habitat. But much closer to home were sights even more spectacular than the Space Needle rising hundreds of feet in front of the Olympic Mountains. Against the backdrop of...

Article
BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER
woodpecker on persimmon tree

As my neighbors and I stood 10 feet apart and swapped tips for scavenging kitchen staples this spring, the wilder residents of our community shared no such concerns. Squirrels twirled maple seed clusters like bouquets to reach every tidbit. Bumblebees made a mockery of social distancing in their...

Article
BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER
Feral cats sitting together by a food bowl

Beth McNulty was used to seeing the occasional cat cross her property. In her rural community in Monrovia, Maryland, some of her neighbors let their pet cats roam free. And from time to time, a stray would show up and take shelter in her backyard shed. Over the years, she’d adopted two of these...

Article
Julie Falconer
Monarch butterfly in flowers

The suspect creeping up near my front fence was a tough character—broad-leafed and thick-stemmed and threatening to invade my property and swallow it whole if I didn’t act fast. There was no hesitation that summer morning as I headed to work: Off with his head! It was a decision made all too easy by...

Article
BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER
Neighbors working in a community garden
Article
By Bethany W. Adams
closeup of a bee on a large yellow flower

In a few short months, the sweet scent of thawing soil will have me searching under trees, by streams and in gardens for new life peeking into the frosty air. During winter’s dark days, it’s hard to imagine anyone more excited about spring’s brave first blooms. But just below ground, creatures on a...

Article
By Nancy Lawson, author of The Humane Gardener
a green spicebush swallowtail caterpillar munches on a leaf

Pop quiz: What’s the best way to help butterflies in your backyard? If you answered “Plant butterfly bush,” you’re in good company. A recent survey of my gardening friends elicited the same response from more than a few. It’s easy to understand why: Aside from its self-reinforcing moniker, the plant...

Article
By Nancy Lawson, author of The Humane Gardener
Monarch butterfly in a field of grass

Standing in the street and admiring each other’s gardens one day, Sherrie Pelsma and her neighbor made a discovery: They’d become hosts to a buzzing block party. “We could actually see the air traffic of bees and butterflies crossing the street between our two habitats,” recalls Pelsma. “I said,...

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BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER