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Backyard Pocket Prairie

When we first moved into our old farmhouse, we were told that the backyard was "just full of weeds." Several sweet neighbors came over offering to mow for us, completely taken aback that we would decline such a neighborly gesture. But as an herbalist and nature nerd, I was adamant about letting the yard grow so we could learn what lived there naturally — even if it meant outing ourselves as the weirdos who purposely “neglected” their yard. One of the most crucial components of permaculture is observation, and as new homeowners thrilled to finally have a piece of land to steward, we were excited to observe.

It didn't take long for our dry and dusty yard to become a beautiful mess of new growth, and come springtime, we had a field of wildflowers -- growing readily with no maintenance or care. As two people who tend to be doers, always working hard to make things happen, it was a lovely lesson in how often the most productive action is inaction. Nature is the best garden curator, and sometimes — a lot of times — humans just get in the way.

We've been here about three years now, and we've started picking up on the seasonal fluctuations and subtle nuances from year to year. The verbena, evening primrose, and prickly poppies are some of the first to make an early spring appearance. Then the firewheel, prairie coneflower, and devil's claw blooms burst open, quickly followed by bee balm and many others.

Last night when I was sitting in the backyard pocket prairie watching all the buzzing activity amidst the vibrant blooms, I thought about all these wildflower seeds that laid dormant in the ground for so long just waiting for their time to shine. All it took was someone to simply stop mowing.


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