|Giant swallowtail butterfly feeding on our torch sunflowers|
So now that I am mostly done I thought I would share the best before and after photos of the project. The way the house is now (below) is definitely less "neat and tidy" than it was before but it provides habitat for so many more birds and insects than it did one year ago when nothing would have been flowering in late summer.
|"After", September 2012|
|"Before", Summer 2011 ( http://www.ipswichareahomes.com/property/29-Upper-River-Road-Ipswich-Massachusetts)|
|Side of the house "after", September 2012|
|side of the house "before", October 2011|
The woodland island garden and border above has six species of ferns in it along with culver's root, solomon's seal, Canadian ginger, jack-in-the-pulpit, goats beard, foam flower, bugbane and other native shade plants. One year ago this was bare mulch over plastic sheeting with one giant yew shrub (right).
Last fall our backyard was also mostly mulch over sheets of plastic (left). Over the course of the spring and summer I removed all the plastic, my husband built a fence to keep the kids out of the river, the bare area by our neighbor's wood pile has been landscaped with mostly ferns and I let my kids plant their fairy garden. I also incorporated a rain garden in the lower corner of the fenced area (below) to catch all run off from the roof and side yard.
|Backyard "after", September 2012|
|black-eyed susans, blanket flowers and cardinal flowers|
I think the most important part of this landscaping project for the little ecosystem that is our 0.3 acres is the removal of nearly 4,000 square feet of plastic. For me, adding hundreds of native plants to that newly permeable soil just completed the property's transformation from a typical suburban landscape to a native paradise. I am glad to be (mostly) done so I can sit on my garden bench and enjoy it before the winter sets in (oh, and finish painting the house too!) And I am so much looking forward to that first fiddlehead emerging next spring.
A big thank you to the team at the Parker River Wildlife Refuge for awarding me this grant. Without it I would not have accomplished so much this year and there would most likely be large areas of plastic still on our property. I haven't tackled the other half of the backyard, but that's a project for next summer.
For an overview of the other PIEs Slow the Flow Grant Program awardees please watch this short video: