Marin IJ Articles
Nover 12, 2011
SOMETIMES, GARDENERS don't get the credit they deserve. The true complexities of the landscape systems are, as you delve deeper into most of them, beyond anyone's understanding.
Our gardens involve so many systems of such complexity, from technological and structural to ecological and regulatory. Their implementation and management can have such vast implications to our
It becomes obvious that gardening as a hobby or a profession touches on such wide-ranging areas of study that it can be both humbling and inspiring. How gardens and landscapes are managed, taken in a cumulative view, can have huge implications on our quality of life and life on our planet in general.
We have to assume that landowners and land users as a whole want to do the right thing and be good stewards — promoting fertility, diversity, health and social good while leaving their lands better off than when they got them. Resources and energy need to be conserved, pollution eliminated, and funds applied strategically for the most return on
Let's take a look at some of the interrelated systems involved in gardening:
Ecology: The ecological aspects of the garden range from the migratory patterns of birds and mammals and their habitat needs to the ineffable web of life in the soil and the activity in the rhizosphere surrounding plant roots. Biological diversity and stability is determined by plant selection and maintenance practices.
Geography: Our ability to grade the land and manipulate watersheds — as well as our move to switch from drainage systems to infiltration systems — can improve both our storm water and groundwater situations.
Geology: The underlying bedrock and its weathering into soil is affected by our ability to change soil texture and structure. Our actions either can promote soil generation and protection or can lead to compaction, erosion and loss.
Succession: The evolution of the soil, plant, habitat systems determine soil organic matter and acidity over time. This affects which plants and habitats can thrive in a given area. The woodland plants that have evolved in mature soils have problems when forced to survive in younger soils that would normally support annual grasses.
Entomology: Our use of pesticides along with our plant selection and maintenance practices has far-reaching effects on insect populations by determining the availability of hosts, foods and competitive
Sociology: It has been proven that gardens have a strong influence on the human psyche and health. From the nuts and bolts of negative ions, clean air and beneficial microbes to the promotion of social interaction, individual introspection or even the creation of beauty, the promotion of interactions with nature plays ever increasing role in how people feel and behave.
Mechanical: Anyone who has gardened in California knows, or at least is aware, of the complexities of the delicate nature of maintaining efficient irrigation systems. The rapidly developing technological advances in irrigation systems make material selection and upkeep a moving target. Programming can have huge effects on plant and soil health and pest
Structural: Decks, retaining walls, arbors, steps and paths help direct and create our experience of a garden space. These structures can involve masonry, carpentry and even metallurgy, as well as concepts of architecture, engineering and local building codes. Accessibility standards also are involved.
By recognizing the intricate web of interactions within the garden setting while striving to expand our awareness of the different systems and our understanding of them, we become better at making informed decisions involving their design and management. By placing value on qualities
As we strive to become more eco-literate and act locally for our collective global good, while still balancing our budgets and quality of life, we increasingly appreciate the role of the conscientious and knowledgeable gardener. We also, as gardeners, develop an increasing and healthy
You can learn more about sustainable landscape management on Nov. 18 at an upcoming workshop in San Rafael. Robert Perry, author of "Landscape Plants for California Gardens," will speak and sign books. The workshop will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Pickleweed