If you’re a gardener, you probably know:
Echinacea/Coneflower, Dianthus/Carnation, Salvia/Sage, Digitalis/Foxglove…
In short, you have a mental database of botanical Latin and common name combinations. You can probably, given only a Latin name, identify a plant’s characteristics: tomentosa (hairy), lutea (yellow), glaucous (covered in a bluish “bloom”, as the skin of a blueberry), etc. You know dozens of tools and their uses, and each one’s superiorities for particular jobs. You know the components of healthy soil, and what various additives do to improve bad soil. You know seasonal harvest and flowering times; you know “winter interest” plants, such as red-twigged dogwood. You know design rules, as employing the color wheel, and using odd numbers. You know plant diseases and infestations, and the debating points about how to deal with them. (I am in the leave it alone, and get rid of the plant if necessary, camp.) You know how to start seeds, make cuttings, which plants divide well and which don’t. You can probably solve problems calling for the construction of fences, drainage channels, even small storage buildings. And you know a lot about habitat, what you need to add, of native plants and features, to make homes for wildlife. You can identify several bird species, and routinely consult references to be sure of new visitors. (And you have an entire sub-database of where to look up things you don’t know.) You know reptiles, amphibians, and mammals. You keep up with what’s coming out in the new planting season, in perennials, shrubs, and annuals.
Of course, gardening involves physical workouts and being outdoors in the fresh air. As we get older, we think about ways to stay healthy and retain our brainpower. Aside from the push to save the planet, that has inspired so many new gardeners, there is this all-around “staying in the game” that gardening provides. Which makes us better Earth citizens, and better agers.
This is not a dead log, but a mini-habitat, with its own population of fauna. It has lichen, moss, mushrooms. It probably has insects, in the crevices of the bark, and certainly bacteria everywhere.
That’s why nurse logs (and junior nurse logs) are important in creating a replication of the natural forest environment, as nearly as we can in our yards.
From last summer. This is poison ivy. Some tiny bug has turned the leaves into these crumply pimpled things, demonstrating that all residents of an ecosystem use and are used, and even nuisance plants and animals belong.
I bought this succulent at Walmart, and I don’t know what it is. But it started dropping leaves, and each leaf had roots coming out. (See the not-very-focused photo below.) Wherever the plant is native to, it must rely on this alternative reproduction, either when it reaches a level of maturity, or when it feels stressed.