For this review of Jim's talk last night to the Takoma Horticulture Club, I Google-imaged his name to see if I could find him, cursing under my breath that I hadn't brought my camera and done it myself. This is one of the resulting photos and it's so not Jim I had to laugh. It's some other Jim Gallion who hasn't created, with his wife Teresa, the most beautiful replica of nature I've ever seen on their property near Frederick, if his PowerPoint show can be believed.
Yes, I'm happy to report that someone is achieving the ideal of combining the love of nature with a love of beauty. And right up front he told us he wouldn't be encouraging us to get rid of all our nonnative plants, meaning almost every plant in our gardens - he even grows them himself. So we could relax and be seduced by his gorgeous photographs of the birds, bugs, rabbits, frogs and plants in his garden.
In his gentle way, Jim's on a mission to spread the word. He and Teresa work through their design/consult firm, Gardening Adventures, to help homeowners move toward harmony with nature and enhance the beauty of their surroundings. And on top of what they get paid to do, they contribute 300 or so hours a year in community service, which is 275 more than what's required to maintain their Master Gardener status. And judging by Jim's talk, he's a great teacher for the cause because his love of nature is infectious.
More good news - their excellent articles on such topics as wildlife in the garden, native plants, and turf reduction can be found on line. Here they're listed with other Master Gardener articles, so scroll down alphabetically to Theresa and Jim Gallion.
Among Gallion's words last night:
- "If you don't have some nonnatives, you're missing out on a lot of really cool plants," so he's not a "native plant elitist."
- You can create a habitat even if you only have a balcony to work with.
- His winterberry has tons of berries and has become the guarded territory of a mockingbird couple.
- Hang your suet-holder upside down to discourage the "junk birds."
- Turtles love colonies of May apples.
- To attract the Zebra Swallowtail, grow Paw Paw, but only if you have room for them to spread.
- To attract Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (in photo), grow the native columbine. It's a good groundcover in partial shade, reseeding freely.
- Neither toadhouses nor butterfly houses work. Bat houses work once they're discovered by the bats, which may take a while.
- Leaving dead wood to decay in place is great for the critters, and looks good, too. A standing dead tree will attract even more woodpeckers if you drill some one-inch starter holes along it.
- Gardening with successions of petunias and zinnias isn't gardening; it's yard decorating.
- Butterfly bushes are like "McDonald's drive-throughs."
- Recommends National Wildlife Federation's Attracting Birds, Butterflies, and Other Backyard Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation of Land, Chesapeake Bay Watershed Edison.
- Recommends The Wild Ones at www.for-wild.org.
Can you tell I was won over? Yeah, I want frogs and some more woodpeckers, just for starters. I'll try to remember that Jim also suggested going slow and not expecting overnight results.
Last but never least, thanks to Kathy Jentz for bringing Jim to the club.
This just in - a photo of the our Jim Gallion. Ah, that's better.