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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
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
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
overhead view of a woman tending her garden

Walk into a roadside restaurant after a long day on the highway, and you can practically taste your meal before sitting down. The familiar smells of fresh-baked pie and salty fries need little introduction en route to your belly. That sensory experience is similar for wildlife coming upon lush...

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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
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
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
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...

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By Nancy Lawson, author of The Humane Gardener
Illustration of a family of deer with New York City in the background

People in New York City expect to contend with millions of other humans. They don’t always realize that in some boroughs they also live side by side with thousands of bucks, does and fawns. So recently the city plastered its transit system with ads that carried pictures of these wild city residents...

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By Karen E. Lange
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.

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By Nancy Lawson, author of The Humane Gardener
Two deer in a landscaped yard.

Last summer, deer snipped the tops off goldenrods and helped themselves to swamp milkweed buds. They had wild lettuces for breakfast and black raspberries for dessert. Despite the diverse tasting menus on offer, most plants in my garden didn’t tempt these gentle herbivores, who sampled purpletop...

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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...

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BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER
Deer gather in a field at sunset on Fripp Island, SC.
Article
By Karen E. Lange
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
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...

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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
An American robin eating a hawthorn berry during a snow storm.

As monarch butterflies and hummingbirds headed south this fall, I dreamt of following my favorite snowbirds to Mexico and Central America. But I stayed home instead, where I have a window onto the spectacular world of winter wildlife: northern flickers tossing maple leaves with their beaks in search...

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BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER
open gate leading into a lush green garden

The house next door sits vacant, placed on the market after the last renter moved out. A succession of owners has knocked down walls, replaced carpeting and installed standard-issue appliances. Edging the exterior are shrubs from conventional landscaping palettes, including invasive species that...

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By Nancy Lawson, author of The Humane Gardener
Fawn sitting in the grass.

The woman on the phone was anxious but determined. She was calling City Wildlife, a rescue and rehabilitation center in Washington, D.C., because her dog had dug up a rabbit nest and killed three of the babies. There was one survivor. “I’m going to get some kitten formula and start feeding it...

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Kelly L. Williams