The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, December 10, 2004


"Naturally Beautiful Gardens" talk inspires and instructs

On Saturday, November 13, on a day that started out with ice and snow, Carlisle residents enjoyed a colorful slide lecture at the First Religious Society Union Hall entitled "Naturally Beautiful Gardens — Adventures in Landscape Ecology." The multi-faceted tour of earth-friendly landscaping was led by Dori Smith, landscape designer and consultant from Gardens for Life in Acton, and Mary Whitney, a landuse planner and natural resource consultant based in Littleton. The landscaping experts firmly believe that homeowners do not need to choose between a healthy environment, healthy family, and a beautiful garden — they can have it all.

Sponsored by the Carlisle Pesticide Awareness Group in association with the Carlisle Board of Health and the First Religious Society Environmental Action Committee, the talk offered attendees many tips on designing for wildlife habitat, conserving water and preserving our water quality, as well as managing our landscapes beautifully with a minimum of toxic chemicals that affect the wildlife and the environment beyond our property lines — as well as potentially harming our children.

Smith focused on the benefits of newly popular natural gardens, especially those designed to support a wide variety of birds, butterflies, and pollinating insects. Three types of habitat gardens appropriate to New England — woodland, meadow, and bog gardens — can be designed to suit the soil type, sun and shade, and other conditions already found on parts of our properties.

Offering an example, Smith said, "I'm always looking for opportunities to create 'rain gardens' for my clients — directing the roof runoff from the downspout, or the runoff from a slope, into special gardens planted with wetland-edge perennials and shrubs that can handle periodic drenching as well as drought." These gardens are easy care, since they should rarely require watering after establishment. Native shrubs she recommended for rain gardens included blueberries, summer-sweet, winterberry, Virginia sweet-spire, and chokeberry — all beneficial for birds and bees, as well as beautiful to look at throughout the seasons.

Whitney and Smith offered the audience many tips on managing our lawns and gardens so they are no less beautiful, without using an arsenal of chemical weapons against pests, weeds, and diseases. "Plants have immune systems just like humans! If you treat them as well as you'd treat your body, they will be able to withstand pests and diseases," promised Smith. The duo suggested that leaves and wood chips are more nutritious for plants than bark mulches. That means that we can save time, money, and environmental costs by recycling nature's products right on our properties.

For more information, visit the Carlisle Pesticide Awareness Group's web site at or contact the Carlisle Board of Health.

2004 The Carlisle Mosquito