IN MY CURRENT CHAOS OF ICE DAMS ON THE ROOF and ever more, more, more snow on the ground, I almost forgot to raise a teacup to the voracious woodchuck, or groundhog, whose official day this is.
I can say with certainty that no large rodent or any other creature is going to find as much as the doorway to its burrow in these here parts today, whatever that means for the timing of spring’s arrival.
My best groundhog story takes place on the Fourth of July, however, and many years ago. It’s a story of city-girl arrogance, and trying to fool Mother Nature. Enjoy it.
I WATCHED A ZOOM lecture the other day that really put into words a lot of the ways my own deepening understanding of ecology is shaking up the way I practice horticulture—from spring cleanup, right on to the last chore of the active year. The lecturer was Rebecca McMackin, director of horticulture for Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York City, where she leads the team that manages 85 acres of diverse parkland with a central focus on habitat creation of woodlands, wetlands, and meadows to build soils and support birds, butterflies, and other organisms.
We talked about the dynamic tactics they use and when and why–a whole different approach to spring cleanup, where the life cycles of animals (from insects on up) dictate what happens when, garden maintenance-wise. Like why some things don’t get cut back, and others that are still seed-laden when they do have their seeds collected and set aside, then returned to the spot after whatever cleanup is needed there.