Recently a customer of ours stated that with climate change, and the warming of our seasons, that shade gardening will become more popular as a way to continue gardening in the heat. Interesting thought. Of course, trees are an integral part of that concept. We can’t really garden in the shade without shade! Living among a forest of trees here, rambling the woods on a regular basis, and being what we would consider ( aside from gardeners and farmers) stewards of the forest, we pay close attention the the health and changes of the woods around us. Many studies show that the eastern forests are in decline, and in some cases it is happening quite rapidly. So many plants in the understory rely on that canopy of shade. Think of all the woodland flowers that require just that….a woodland habitat. Most of the plants we grow here are shade loving, and without the trees that we have, they would suffer. Indeed, gardening in the shade on hot days is much more pleasant to some people than being in the sun. One of the very reasons why we prefer shade gardening……no big fans of the blistering heat here at Fernwood! But what about the trees that provide that shade? As an example, in some areas the beech trees are dying at a rate of 10% per year. The ash in our area took a hard hit during the ice storm of 1998, and have been very slow to recover. Of course, there is also a yellow ash fungus that is contributing to their decline. The uncertainty of the forests and particular species of trees is a worldwide problem. The major culprit, that will do the most damage over time, seems to be air pollution and ozone. Acid rain and other chemicals poison the plants and the soil, while ozone interferes with a plant’s ability to feed itself by literally bleaching leaves and needles. This reduces or eliminates chlorophyll production and the tree can’t feed itself. If this alone does not eventually kill them, the trees become weakened and more vulnerable to disease, stress, and pests. Some trees can tolerate more pollution than others, but most will suffer over time as conditions become more stressful. We love our woodlands and everything that lives in and is dependent on them. We’re sure most people do. Without trees, everything in and below the canopy can perish. All are connected, plant and animal alike. It saddens us to think that someday the forests as we now know it may be gone……and not simply due to natural forest evolution. This is very different than that. If action, strong action, isn’t taken soon, our fears will become a catastrophic reality. A world I cannot imagine. Damage to our forests from pollutants was documented in the 1950’s. Governments are talking about reducing pollutants to 1990’s levels. That would be too little too late, and if so, we may reach a point that is irreversible. Let’s hope that the powers that be can move faster and with determination to save the world, our only world, from such a disaster.

8 comments on “

  1. We are certainly leaving our grandchildren some major problems to address. On a personal note, a neighbor decided to take down a row of trees and suddenly my shade garden became part shade. Wow, did I have a lot of work moving plants around. Now she is interested in taking the rest of her trees down because she likes a clear palette, and then I’ll have a full sun garden. Gardening is always an interesting journey.

    • True, Judy….gardening is an evolving process. My hope is that we can all do what we can to ensure a healthy planet for the next generations. Of course, keeping our forests healthy for the sake of the trees themselves, a responsibility as well.
      I know you travel with such a conscious mind , the earth is a better place for the likes of you, no doubt!

  2. Good post and everyone needs to read it. We all know that trees release oxygen into the air, so without trees we are toast. If everyone would just understand that everything is connected and relies on the other for something. Its a big complex world but us humans are doing a good job of destroying it. We need to stop.

    • So very true, Ralph, and it is such a complex problem. Forest diversity alone is so important for the health and well being of ALL living things. Without paying attention to this deep and necessary connection, I’m afraid we’ll see the crumble of each and every living organism. It is so truly important to embrace the connection we have with our living earth, I think then we would see how crucial we are to helping to maintain the health of the planet. Thank you for reading…and keep those thoughts close to your heart, it is good work to care of such things!

  3. That is scary. Sure hope the powers that be start thinking of these things and becoming advocates of taking card of this great land that we have been given instead of what praise they can garner from “worldly” things.

  4. I just finished re-reading a book.Upland Autumn by Wm. Tapply. I’m not a hunter or much of a woodsy person but I fell in love with his style and prose.
    He’s passed on now but he relates his years spent with his dad and friends hunting grouse and partridge in New England esp. New Hampshire and Maine. He relates how decades ago the woods and waters were changing. Loss of environment for wildlife, changes in the forests. Here in Michigan last year there was an attempt to allow fracking in an area where there is the last stand of old growth white pine. That was stopped by some public attention but it was close!
    We need another Teddy Roosevelt… a politician with knowledge and love of nature who has the foresight and courage to SEE and believe some wildly things are important, not just worldly.

    • Hi Sue…….I don’t believe we are all so oblivious to what is happening to our natural world…the forests, the oceans, the lakes and streams. I think many of us are so deeply concerned and troubled by the condition of our environment. Given the opportunity we all seem to connect with the natural…..I suppose some are so insulated from the rewards of spending a day in the woods, hiking a mountain, fishing a stream, that they have no sense of responsibility to our fragile planet. Reading the comments in response to this post, I am reminded of how many people do love this planet…..thank you for your comment, the book suggestion( which I will surely follow up on), and your own heart felt observations. You’re spot on!

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