About Me


If you’re here for sage advice or genius gardening hacks, you may need to lower your expectations. Hang on to your hats, we learn as we go around here.

Welcome to one reluctant gardener’s journey into urban native yardscaping.

I never wanted to be a gardener.

But sometimes the winds of change blow us onto a new path, and in my case those winds came at speeds of up to 140 miles an hour. On August 10, 2020, a derecho roared across the country. And though that storm swept through our city in under an hour, it left us forever changed.

Two-thirds of our tree canopy was gone. Our infrastructure was in shambles. Electrical lines dangled over intersections, downed trees blocked every thoroughfare. Nearly every home and building in our town sustained damage. Roofs were torn off, the sides of buildings had been completely peeled away. All of our high schools sustained such serious damage they couldn’t open for six months.

Immediately after, cell service was spotty or non-existent. The entire city was dark.

It was ten days before the power was back on at our house. Though we didn’t realize it, we were months away from digging to the bottom of our debris pile in our front yard.

Our house, shortly after the derecho of 2020. Downed trees fill the yard.

The neighborhood where I live is called Bever Woods. It was called that not because of an abundance of woodchucks or beavers, but because of the trees. There were sycamore, ash, maple, and oak of every flavor, all holding vigil over cool pools of shade on our billiard-green lawns.

Everywhere were the trees–tall and magnificent, ancient and wonderful. Some had even had sprouted long before Iowa was a state, ages before any white settlers had set foot on this land.

Beyond trees, we did not grow much here, besides hostas. You can’t imagine how many different kids of hostas there are until you live in a place so drenched in shade.

The derecho changed all that. And as we patched our roofs and cleared the debris from our yards everyone seemed to realize there wouldn’t be sufficient shade for those hostas for sixty years or more. We blinked up and the unescapable sun. The question was what to do about it. For me, the answer didn’t take long.

It’s not hard to figure out where I stand on the environment, what with the Prius in the driveway and the closet full of recycled clothing. So it was probably only a matter of time before I picked up Douglas Tallamy’s book Nature’s Best Hope, and once I did I knew what I had to do. I had to become a gardener. And I had to learn everything, all at once.

This is my journey: my missteps and mistakes, my occasional successes, and everything in between.



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