The healing art of gardening
On this issue's cover: In Minnesota, a panicled aster provides pollen for a hairy-belted miner bee, one of 50 specialist bee species nurtured by American asters in the genus Symphyotrichum nationwide. Photo by Heather Holm
"IN SOME NATIVE LANGUAGES the term for plants translates to ‘those who take care of us.’” So writes Robin Wall Kimmerer in her book Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants. A mother, member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, botanist and environmental biology professor, Kimmerer is renowned for her deeply personal wisdom about the human connection to Earth.
Throughout this magazine’s 60 years, we have explored how nature enriches human life and how people can be stewards of the planet. That job begins at home. An article in the April–May 1973 issue titled “Invite wildlife to your backyard” sparked the launch of the National Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife™ program (Shared Memory), and in recent years we’ve devoted each April–May issue to sharing advice about how people can help wildlife thrive through gardening with native plants—particularly keystone plants, which benefit the greatest number of wildlife species (Power Plants). Such plants are becoming more widely available thanks to native plant nurseries (Unsung Heroes) and NWF’s new Garden for Wildlife social enterprise, a growing network of suppliers who can ship plants directly to people’s homes (President's View).
While native plants benefit pollinators and other wildlife, the gift of gardening goes both ways, offering peace and joy to the gardeners (Seeding a Tradition). In Kimmerer’s words, “As we work to heal the earth, the earth heals us.”
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