Sustainability Topics

Playing in the Dirt: a Twist

Preparing the clay for the earthen wall. photo credit: R. RobertAll gardeners like to play in the dirt. Well, the latest art installation on the grounds of the Scott Arboretum takes playing in the dirt to a whole new level. This project entails building walls out of dirt. Starting this week and continuing until October 7th, students, volunteers, and community members will help artist Massey Burke, 2000 alumni of Swarthmore College, construct an earthen wall.

Massey Burke has been teaching and practicing natural building techniques for seven years. She has built homes to park benches from clay soil, straw, and sand. “Most Americans have never lived in anything truly hand-built,” …

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Wildlife and Conservation: Ground covers

Pollinator Garden at Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College. photo credit: R. RobertSue Stark wrote about creating a certified wildlife habitat in her backyard. Until very recently Sue was a Gardener and Volunteer Coordinator at the Scott Arboretum. While she was packing to move with her family to Connecticut, we asked her to take a break and comment on the plants in the Scott Associates Plant Sale that have particular interest for wildlife and conservation.

Sue noted, in addition to wildlife benefits, she was interested in plants that establish strongly—that could fill bed spaces, replace lawn, and in particular be an alternative to ivy. In many cases, she gave examples of how …

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Wildlife and Conservation: Native Woody Plants

Pollinators Garden. Photo credit: R. RobertPlenty of species, not just your human neighbors, are intrigued by what you plant in your landscape. There is a growing awareness that we should consider their interest and provide food and habitat for insects, birds, and other wildlife when making our plant selections. Doug Tallamy and others have alerted us to the particular value of incorporating native plants and plants for birds, insects, and pollinators in our backyards.

We asked Barb Elliot to highlight some plants ideal for our non-human neighbors. Barb is the co-founder of the Backyards for Nature program at the Valley Forge Audubon Society. Active in …

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