What I hate about Arbor Day and …

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April 30, Arbor Day, a holiday when some people who never think about trees devote a split second to the woody vegetation’s value. Raising consciousness is a good thing. However, when the Arbor Day Foundation usurps a national holiday and promotes the planting of species quasi indiscriminately, I feel true ire. Ultimately, this non-profit organization may toe the line and prize true ecology by recommending you buy or cultivate (by seed, graft or transplant) locally native trees instead of offering nursery clones as they do now — that activity does not add to ecological diversity.

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Because we live in a schoolhouse, we have access to public records and personal accounts about much of what has occurred around our property, such as the Arbor Day installation of this Hackberry tree planted by teachers and students circa 1930. ~ JB

The Quarry School Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis) photographed April 30, 2010.

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For Earth Day: Our first personal report

After more than 200 posts under the Homemade Wilderness banner, I finally offer you our first personal report about the landscape changes on our property.

In case you haven’t looked into our biography here, I’ll explain briefly that Dan and I have been renovating the schoolhouse and grounds we inherited from my parents. Every element, inside and out, has been — or soon will be — carefully tended to in order to render a historically accurate and durable and attractive and functional place to live out our days.

Last year Dan took chainsaw to utility poles and created dimensional timbers from which we constructed raised beds for the kitchen garden on the south side of our stone home. I had enough topsoil available to get some vegetables to grow, but the planters looked a mite lean, and I certainly couldn’t have grown a straight carrot. A couple days ago I began tackling two projects at once by harvesting lovely, fluffy topsoil from where it had gathered against the chainlink fence that separates us from the highway and relocating it to the kitchen garden.

Hills slump. That’s actually the term for how soil migrates down slopes and gathers in lower areas. And that’s how the silty stuff gathered where it had. Happily, I can save the old fence from ruination while supplying the beds with respectable soil. Admittedly, the soil will need more organic matter, so we’ll eventually get around to hurrying up our compost heap. However, our to-do list is longer than yours, I’ll wager, so churning compost is not a priority at this time.

As events unfold, I’ll let you know about other significant changes hereabouts. To see some of what has gone before, check out the photos posted at Quarry School. ~ JB

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About us and the wilderness we’ve made

I’m Joy Buslaff, former editor of Wild Ones Journal and former deputy editor of The Ecological Landscaper, seen here standing in the shallows of the 20-foot-diameter pond I hand dug. Every few years I jump in to manually dredge the pond weeds which will enrich the compost pile. My posture may not convey it, but I actually enjoy mucking about and reveling in a wetland experience where we once mowed lawn.

Dan Savin, my husband, and I are consummate do-it-yourselfers, relating to both landscape and building restoration. We hope to encourage your growing an ecological landscape with native plants through the news and instruction provided via this site and my speaker programs.

During the earlier years of our marriage, we transformed the building and landscape shown in the two before/after photos below. Today we happily rent this property to appreciative tenants. In 2001, we inherited my parents’ home, best known as Quarry School, an 1868-built stone schoolhouse.

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Contact us by emailing quarryschool@mail.com.

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