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Northwest Gardening: Don’t Fight Mother Nature

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Here are three tips to help gardeners in the Northwest keep in sync with Mother Nature.

A pollinator on a plant is a welcomed sight.
The planters and rocks aren’t tidy, but they make for a more natural setting.

By Marianne Binetti

It’s not nice to ignore Mother Nature. You’ll be swatted by the big mama if you don’t put out the welcome mat for the birds and bees, and feed the soil the way nature intended. Here are three ways you can make the matriarch of all living things happy in your garden.

Welcome the volunteers—Mother knows best. I’ve learned not to be so tidy when it comes to weeding seedlings from a pathway, or plucking volunteers from a garden bed. I now enjoy the snowdrop bulbs and hardy cyclamens that pop up in my dry streambed. I’ve even learned to welcome the giant, lime-green euphorbia that appeared in my vegetable garden. That euphorbia may take up a lot of elbow room, but this early bloomer also attracts bees and other pollinators to my food crops.

Compost—recycling Mother Nature’s way. Leaves fall, rot, and return nutrients to the soil. That’s a pretty ingenious cycle. Starting a compost pile is one of the easiest ways to improve your soil and make Mother Nature happy. I use the three-bin system of composting so I don’t have to turn the piles. I keep filling one bin with garden refuse, leave one bin to just sit and rot, and the third bin is last year’s sitting pile that I harvest and use to feed the soil, just as nature intended.

Water lilies in a water garden make up part of my aquatic playground.

Attract birds—nature’s own pest control. I position birdhouses throughout the property, plant shrubs with berries, and encourage native salals, currants and huckleberries. Most of all I provide an aquatic playground for the birds with a pondless waterfall in the back, and a large birdbath in the front courtyard.

A wasp on a plant is one of nature’s natural pest controls.

You don’t need to control everything in the garden. Sometimes it works out better to let go and let Mother Nature take the wheel.