Sustainability has always served as a foundational guide in Cary Baker’s gardening practice. Baker is the founder of Wild Pistil Design Studio, a Beacon-based garden design firm with ecologically mindful landscape solutions. Below, she provides some steps to find mutualism between plants, people, and wildlife.
Encourage your local garden centers and nurseries to increase their native plant offerings. When considering plant purchases, follow the 80/20 approach, whereby natives are the dominant species. This is an attainable goal that both homeowners and professionals can work toward. Do some research on regional natives: The Native Plant Finder website, developed by The National Wildlife Federation in partnership with renowned entomologist Douglas Tallamy, is an indispensable tool that provides simple educational resources, and allows users to search for native plant lists by zip code.
Don’t limit the space you designate for ornamental and edible planting to one side of your property. Break up expanses of turf in front yards and along driveways by introducing or extending garden beds and permeable pathways. You’ll be reducing your carbon output by curbing the need for mowing and excessive watering, while establishing inviting destinations within your garden for humans, birds, and other wildlife.
Some of Wild Pistil’s favorite garden moments are those that feel slightly out of control. For a naturalistic aesthetic that will draw all manner of beneficial insects to your garden, avoid mono-culture planting, and instead diversify your plant palette and let things intermingle, sprawl, and spill. Cutting in a clean edge along a border can provide just the right amount of restraint, without quelling an exuberant planting.