On the one hand, gardening provides a way to be alone with our thoughts. But it also connects us to the bigger world--sometimes in surprising ways. A couple of summers ago I noticed a monarch butterfly feeding on the buddleia, with something stuck to its wing. Worried that it would impede the insect's ability to fly, I moved in for a closer look and was relieved to see it wasn't an errant piece of sticky litter, but some kind of tag, with writing on it.
I grabbed my camera and zoomed in-- and sure enough-- it was a tag from an organization called MonarchWatch. Curious, I sent an email to the address and discovered that researchers at the
This is just one of so many enlightening moments I've experienced in the garden. I've realized that this tiny patch of earth represents a microcosm of what is happening on the planet. In twenty years I've noticed subtle but unmistakable changes inside its four walls. Different things thrive here now than in the past. Hardy, drought resistant plants are winning out over water-and shade-loving species. This is partly a result of reduced shade because my neighbour trimmed back her plum tree last year. But after spending hundreds of hours here every spring, summer and fall, it's obvious there's something bigger happening. In general, conditions are hotter and drier now. It's unsettling to know that the mercury is predicted to climb even higher in coming years and decades. But it also gives my puttering a purpose. I feel like I am doing my small part to create an oasis for creatures struggling to adapt to climate change. And I feel just a tiny bit more hopeful about the future when I see butterflies flocking here in abundance, joining the bees, ants, beetles and earthworms that call this garden home.