Topic: Environment

Breaking Ground; The Chain Saws of Salvation

ON a bright, chilly morning last month, I joined a small group of my neighbors who had gathered just south of Kent, Conn., chain saws and loppers in hand, to face down a threat to one of the prettiest landscapes in New England. Known locally as the “southern gateway” to the Berkshires, this particular stretch

Dream Pond: Just Add Water. Then Add More.

NOT long ago, I found myself in a crowded lecture hall surrounded by grim men and women sitting before specimen jars brimming with an alarming assortment of scums and growths in brodo. We had come to this annual Pond Management workshop at the Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y., because we all had ponds

It’s Not the End After All

No matter how many more—and better—books he may write, Bill McKibben is destined to be remembered for “The End of Nature,” his 1989 bestseller about the greenhouse effect and its effect on, well, Bill McKibben. Written on the heels of the “greenhouse summer” of 1988, when record temperatures first stoked popular concerns about global warming,

Against Nativism

THE STRAIGHT LINE IS IN BAD ODOR IN AMERICAN horticulture these days, along with just about anything else that smacks of Old World influence or the hand of man. This was first impressed on me rather violently a couple of years ago, after I published in these pages an account of a disastrous attempt at

Look Who’s Saving Elm

Without question, the dinkiest plant in my garden these last few seasons has been the American elm tree my father-in-law gave me three years ago. I realize that “dinky” is not a word often attached to elm trees—”graceful” or “venerable” or even, in recent years, “dead” are a lot more like it. But there is

Putting Down Roots

FOR A WHILE NOW, I’VE been thinking about planting a tree—a real tree. It’s not that I haven’t planted trees before, but all of these have been minor ones, lightweights really, the kind of trees you can justify in the short term: white pines to screen the road, dwarf fruit trees, a crab apple or

Weeds Are Us

Ralph Waldo Emerson, who as a gardener really should have known better, once said that a weed is simply a plant whose virtues we haven’t yet discovered. “Weed,” that is, is not a category of nature but a human construct, a defect of our perception. This kind of attitude, which draws on an old American

Why Mow? The Case Against Lawns

Anyone new to the experience of owning a lawn, as I am, soon figures out that there is more at stake here than a patch of grass. A lawn immediately establishes a certain relationship with one’s neighbors and, by extension, the larger American landscape. Mowing the lawn, I realized the first time I gazed into

Gardening Means War

I CAME TO THE COUNTRY from the city and brought along many of the city man’s easy ideas about the landscape and its inhabitants. One had to do with the problem of pests in the garden, about which I carried the usual set of liberal views. To nuke a garden with insecticide, to level a