Landowner Highlight: Granby Pollinator Garden (submitted by Aubrey Schulz)

You can promote connectivity in your backyard by creating a native plant garden. In this blog post, Aubrey Schulz, a resident of Granby, CT, has kindly shared with us the story of how her native plant garden came to life. Hopefully this serves as inspiration!

It all started with a COVID garden. Like many homeowners, I had a small garden around the foundation of our house. I quickly ran out of garden tasks and wished for a larger garden. On Mother’s Day 2020, my husband and I expanded a garden in the middle of the lawn. I knew enough to know that I wanted plants that would attract pollinators. Yellow is my favorite color, and I was happy to learn there is a wide range of flowers to choose from. Some of the plants I added were; smooth ox eye, blue stemmed goldenrod, spotted mint, black-eyed susan, and bluestar. The staff at Earth Tones Native Plants in Woodbury, CT were very helpful in getting me started. 

Curious Garden May 2020

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I renamed my garden the Curious Garden after the book by Peter Brown and the song by Emily Arrow. A nicer ring to it than the Covid garden. 

In the fall of 2020, I visited Natureworks Garden Center in Northford, CT. After seeing a few profound quotes by Doug Tallamy on sign boards, I bought his book, Nature’s Best Hope. Reading that book and Bringing Nature Home was eye-opening. I have a BS in Biology; how did I not know this stuff! I immediately started planning the new gardens I would install in the spring, knowing I wanted keystone species to take a starring role. I also knew I wanted more trees and shrubs than I had ever considered before. 

In the Spring 2021, I added four new gardens, all chock full of native plants. The Oak Garden around the massive red oak tree in the front of our house includes bayberry, goldenrod, mountain mint and Virginia strawberry. The Lightpost Garden includes little bluestem, swamp milkweed, and heath asters around the lightpost. 

Lightpost and Oak Garden (May 2020) Shade Garden (September 2022)

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The Shade Garden is a 6’ x 30’ hedgerow along the shady treeline in the front yard, with witchhazel, blackhaw viburnum, columbine, asters, blue vervain, black cohosh and ferns. In the backyard, I added the Sun Garden in another 6’ x 30’ hedgerow garden along the treeline. In this garden, you’ll find New Jersey tea, beach plum, serviceberry, sweet fern, anise hyssop, showy goldenrod, butterfly weed, and golden alexanders. 

Sun Garden (September 2022)

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This growing passion, aided by my youngest child going into kindergarten, spurred me to learn more. I enrolled in Native Plant Trust’s Basic Certificate program, taking advantage of learning in a hybrid style of in-person and online classes. During Designing Native Plant Gardens, I created a 25’ x 50’ garden along the back slope of our property. It was the perfect place to reduce the lawn and add in more biodiversity. Working in stages on the Slope Garden, I planted shrubs and trees. You’ll find aromatic sumac, witch-alder, sweetspire, meadowsweet, pagoda dogwood, serviceberry, red bud, St.John’s Wort, and yellow wild indigo. In February, I tried winter sowing for the first time and I’m excited to have perennials that I grew from seed ready to add bounty for all sorts of wildlife. 

Slope Garden (September 2022)

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Slowly, bit by bit, I’m transforming our property into a powerhouse piece of habitat for bugs, birds and other wildlife. It feels hopeful to be able to do something, when the signs of climate change, habitat reduction and insecticide use are all around. Hearing the catbirds and goldfinches, seeing the bumblebees, dragonflies and butterflies, smelling crushed sweetfern and bayberry leaves, is comforting.    

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