Showing 20 of 32 results
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
Turtle crossing the rural road

The term “roadkill” was coined in the 1940s, according to Merriam-Webster, entering the lexicon alongside “DDT” and other harbingers of a dystopian technological age that runs roughshod over the natural world. In the 1990s, the word became a cheeky insult when a rival called then-House Speaker Newt...

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BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER
brown rabbit in the grass

Somewhere between childhood and middle age, people’s natural affinity for wildlife often melts away, overtaken by exaggerated fears of marauding armies of deer, insects and raccoons intent on invading our gardens and homes. Scorn for rabbits, the sensitive stars of many a bedtime story, is...

Article
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
native seed packets

They were like moths to a flame or, more accurately, butterflies to a native plant. No sooner had I unloaded two joe-pye weed perennials from my car last August than three tiger swallowtails dive-bombed the pots, as if to validate my purchase. If only my fellow shoppers knew what they were missing...

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

It starts out mildly enough: Heading to work on the subway, you realize you forgot your wallet. No big deal, you think. I’ll borrow money to get home. Soon the lights go out and the train hurtles toward the sky, speeding through the atmosphere. Time passes—it’s hard to tell how long. The subway is...

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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...

Article
By Nancy Lawson, author of The Humane Gardener
Young girl playing near stream in forest

Atiya Wells was 22 when a walk in a park changed her view of the world. Growing up, she thought of natural areas as places for family cookouts, “not really seeing the forest for the trees,” she says. But on a date with her then-boyfriend-now-husband, Kieron, she ventured beyond the picnic areas of a...

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BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER
a bluebird sits on a tree with a loud weed whacker in background

Sitting on her porch in the desert one afternoon while recovering from surgery, Christine Hass closed her eyes. The operation to fix her detached retina had been difficult, and she sought respite from the lingering pain. “Suddenly I could hear all the birds singing. It was March—the migrants were...

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

Article
By Nancy Lawson, author of The Humane Gardener
hummingbird sipping nectar from orange flowers

Hummingbirds are top contenders for many avian superlatives: Bee hummingbirds are the smallest birds in the world, as diminutive as their insect namesake. In proportion to their body sizes, rufous hummingbirds make one of the longest migrations and Anna’s hummingbirds fly faster than space shuttles...

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BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER
fat caterpillar curled on a leaf stalk

As my beloved seedlings languished untouched on the display table, I improved my sales pitch: “Would you like a late-flowering thoroughwort to help migrating butterflies refuel? What about an aster that’s the only pollen source for some bee species?” But unlike the animals who would devour these...

Article
By Nancy Lawson, author of The Humane Gardener
small mouse hiding in brush

The mountain lion known as P-47 survived fires, freeways and hostile ranchers. But in March, the 3-year-old big cat—tracked by California biologists since his kitten days—succumbed to a hidden hazard: an insidious form of food poisoning. Six anticoagulant compounds—chemicals used to kill rodents...

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

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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...

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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...

Article
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 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