Showing 20 of 32 results
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...

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BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER
three skunks walking around a backyard

It was a rude awakening: Just as my thoughts drifted into a pre-sleep jumble, a skunk pounced onto my nighttime reading. Not just any skunk, but a giant one flashing her black-and-white tail in a series of pungent leaps. Back and forth she went, bed to floor to bed, before my eyes caught up with my...

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BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER
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...

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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...

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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...

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By Nancy Lawson, author of The Humane Gardener
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...

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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...

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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...

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By Nancy Lawson, author of The Humane Gardener
Mom bird feeding her babies in a nest

Decaying logs and miniature bogs, hollowed stalks and piled rocks, nutritious pollen and leaves fallen: They’re not the stuff of traditional nursery rhymes and baby showers. But if wild mothers-to-be had gift registries, these natural supplies would top the list. Though the basic elements for...

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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...

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BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER
baby raccoons in a hollow tree

Wherever you are in the U.S., a coyote may be taking up residence less than a mile away. If you live in the city, you’re more likely than your rural cousins to encounter raccoons. And regardless of geography, you probably share your home with dozens of species of insects and spiders. These facts...

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BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER
hummingbird sipping nectar from orange flowers

Sometimes my most significant revelations are the annoying, kick-me-in-the-pants ones that follow a period of contented denial. One of those seismic shifts in thought came last year at a dinner party, when a man nearly half my age honed in on a flaw in logic I’d subconsciously buried. A plant...

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By Nancy Lawson, author of The Humane Gardener
Chipmunk outside, on bird feeder

As the world stopped turning and the fires started burning this summer, there was a hole in my heart that only a chipmunk could fill. Shy at first, the distant object of my affection warmed to my presence, until one day we even had breakfast on the patio together: a coffee for me and a snail for Mr...

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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...

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BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER
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...

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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
Illustration of a mole peeking out of a burrow

While soaking her raised beds in preparation for tomato planting last summer, Gail Goldman was startled to see a tiny, waterlogged creature pop up out of the soil. Later another one briefly poked out his head. “Basically, I was watering shrews,” the Seattle gardener says of her foiled vegetable...

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By Nancy Lawson, author of The Humane Gardener
hummingbirds sipping nectar from bright red flowers

It’s a peculiar rite of modern homeownership: Plant a tulip bulb in autumn, cage or spray it to deter nibblers, admire its fleeting blooms a few months later, let it rot in soil ill-suited to its needs and repeat the whole cycle again the following year.

Article
By Nancy Lawson, author of The Humane Gardener
vole in the grass

To experience the natural world, we often navigate congested highways to swim in the sea, fly over patchworked terrain to hike through preserved forests and climb distant mountaintops to catch rare views. Largely because of our ever-increasing mobility, the areas nearest to us are rarely the dearest...

Article
By Nancy Lawson, author of The Humane Gardener
a small bird eats seeds from a hanging bird feeder

Of all the surprising twists and turns my venture into the world of wildlife gardening has taken, the one that stands out most is the day I learned about the dark side of my favorite symbol of hope and summer: the sunflower. It was in the early 2000s and the fledgling gardens at my new home were...

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By Nancy Lawson, author of The Humane Gardener