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The Conscientious Gardener

The Conscientious Gardener: Cultivating a Garden Ethic

Foreword by Peter Raven
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    The Conscientious Gardener
    Book Description:

    In his influentialA Sand County Almanac,published at the beginning of the environmental movement in 1949, Aldo Leopold proposed a new ecological ethic to guide our stewardship of the planet. In this inspiring book, Sarah Hayden Reichard tells how we can bring Leopold's far-reaching vision to our gardens to make them more sustainable, lively, and healthy places. Today, gardening practices too often damage the environment: we deplete resources in our own soil while mining for soil amendments in far away places, or use water and pesticides in ways that can pollute lakes and rivers. Drawing from cutting edge research on urban horticulture, Reichard explores the many benefits of sustainable gardening and gives straightforward, practical advice on topics such as pest control, water conservation, living with native animals, mulching, and invasive species.The book includes a scorecard that allows readers to quickly evaluate the sustainability of their current practices, as well as an extensive list of garden plants that are invasive, what they do, and where they should be avoided.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94728-3
    Subjects: Botany & Plant Sciences

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
    Peter H. Raven

    More than two-thirds of the 310 million people who live in the United States actively garden or have an interest in gardening. Americans constitute about 4.5 percent of the world population but consume nearly a quarter of the world’s resources. The way in which we live, therefore, has a major effect on the global ecosystem, and our gardening has direct and important effects on our common environment, both locally and farther afield.

    In her engaging, personal style, Dr. Sarah Reichard calls attention to the many dimensions of sustainability in gardening at a time when the subject has attained special interest....

  4. INTRODUCTION: The Land Ethic
    (pp. 1-4)

    Aldo Leopold, the biologist, philosopher, and author whose words I have chosen to start this book and whose philosophy guides the chapters, brought together the traditional view that nature should be used for human needs with the more romantic view that nature can refresh and inspire the human spirit. He understood that humans have a place in nature but not the right to exploit it at the expense of all other organisms. He believed that every piece of land is linked to other lands and waters and that action in one place results in reactions in another. Leopold was a...

  5. CHAPTER ONE The Skin of the Earth
    (pp. 5-35)

    We all have a relationship with soil. Some may call it “dirt” and try to launder it out of their children’s clothing. Some may use it to grow crops to support their families, some may try to stop it from washing downhill in storms, and some spend their lives studying it and mapping it. Many gardeners think of it mostly when they are removing it from under their fingernails after a day planting bulbs, but anyone who wants to grow plants should know something about it, and surprisingly few do.

    When I was a botany student I was not required...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Water, Our Most Precious Resource
    (pp. 36-54)

    There is one thing of which I am certain: water flows downhill. It is no more able to resist the pull of gravity than anything else on Earth. Unless it evaporates, it will usually find its way into surface water—streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, and oceans—carrying with it much of what it picked up along the way. Since all life depends on water, the effects may be felt throughout an entire ecosystem.

    In the past several years, two events have made me much more aware of how my own actions affect the animals dependent on freshwater systems. The first...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Should You Go Native?
    (pp. 55-76)

    A. Starker Leopold, son of the great conservationist Aldo Leopold, presented a landmark report in 1963 as chair of the Advisory Board on Wildlife Management for the U.S. National Park Service. This work, often referred to as the Leopold Report, drew on the senior Leopold’s philosophy to conclude that “the goal of managing the national parks and monuments should be to preserve, or where necessary to recreate, the ecologic scene as viewed by the first European visitors. As part of this scene, native species … should be present in maximum variety and reasonable abundance.”

    The Plant Conservation Alliance, a group...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Aliens among Us
    (pp. 77-94)

    In the spring of 1987 I went to Chile to do field work for my Master of Science degree. I was studying Winter’s bark (Drimys winteri), a species in the Winteraceae, perhaps the most ancient family of flowering plants alive today. Winter’s bark occurs in the middle of this long, narrow country all the way down to the very tip of South America. Its forms vary considerably, and I wanted to determine if the variation correlated with geography. Some of the funding for my trip came from the Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle, which wanted me to collect seeds of...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE The Wild Kingdom
    (pp. 95-117)

    Many books have been written about gardening to attract wildlife, and there are stores devoted to selling us bird feeders and houses, bat houses, and so on. But many products have been developed to repel, outwit, and even kill wildlife. What is this love/hate relationship with the animals in our midst? Ultimately, which side we are on comes down to our individual preferences and values, but even knowing our choice is no guarantee against feeling conflicted. People who are charmed by fluffy-tailed squirrels and put out nuts for them may also curse them for robbing the bird feeder.

    I have...

  10. CHAPTER SIX Preventing and Managing Pests
    (pp. 118-148)

    In 1830 it took four people working in agriculture to support five people outside farms—an almost one-to-one ratio. By 1930 only one person was needed to support ten others, and by 1965 one person could support forty. Now one farmer supports seventy to ninety other people. What happened? First, farmers no longer needed to rely on human and mule power. With the invention and spread of the internal combustion engine in the mid- to late 1800s, tractors, combines, and other motorized farming equipment became commonplace, making farming more efficient. Then, beginning in the 1960s, the Green Revolution sought to...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN Confronting Climate Change
    (pp. 149-166)

    These days it seems like you cannot pick up a newspaper without finding another article on climate change. We have been talking about it for many years: the Kyoto Protocol to establish guidelines for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the culmination of years of scientific study and governmental negotiations, was adopted in 1997 (the United States is notably not a party to the agreement). The public discusses it, politicians debate it, but little progress is made: according to the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), temperatures and sea levels are still rising and precipitation patterns...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT Recycle, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose
    (pp. 167-180)

    I inherited some beautiful quilts made by my ancestors in the 1800s. They cut small bits of cloth and sewed them into interesting and intricate patterns. Much of the cloth probably came from old dresses—once they were too worn to wear, they were repurposed into warm quilts for the family or given to peddlers who sold them to paper companies. Each woman probably owned four or five dresses at any time. Ever notice that old houses often have no, or tiny, closets? People had as much as they needed, and what they needed was modest.

    Now that we live...

  13. EPILOGUE: Toward a Garden Ethic
    (pp. 181-188)

    Since Aldo Leopold wrote those words in 1949, his philosophy has been absorbed slowly but increasingly into how we view the protection of natural areas. Building on the work of Leopold, Rachel Carson, and others, we have enacted many local, national, and international laws and treaties that aim to protect the “land”—the natural land and water communities. We still struggle with maintaining it for its intrinsic worth, as opposed to the economic value of the resources and services it provides, but the direction we are taking is positive.

    A garden ethic reflects those values—that the gardens we nurture...

    (pp. 189-189)
  15. APPENDIX: Global List of Invasive Garden Plants
    (pp. 190-225)
    (pp. 226-229)
    (pp. 230-242)
  18. INDEX
    (pp. 243-254)