March is a perfect time to dig into our gardens and landscapes. How are our “gardens” and “landscapes” related? Both involve soil, water and plants. Both support the biodiversity of insects and wildlife. Both can benefit from our stewardship.
We commonly think of gardens as planned and tended areas to grow vegetables, flowers, shrubs, and trees. Landscapes, on the other hand, may be larger natural areas and viewscapes that are planned and unplanned, private and public, tended and untended.
So gardens are, essentially, small-scale landscapes.
What does the word “treasure” mean to you? Something that you value? Actions that you take to protect that valued something — how you “treasure” your “treasure”?
“Treasure” suggests the idea of riches. Gardens and landscapes are a kind of riches, a different kind of “green” that’s not bought and sold for profit, stored in a bank or jewelry box, or used to buy things. You can treasure gardens and landscapes beyond their monetary value, for their importance to your personal health and quality of life and to your community’s well-being and sustainability.
Frederick County is fortunate to be home to many gardens and treasured landscapes, “places that stand out … with many inspiring, productive, and naturally diverse lands,” according to the Sugarloaf Treasured Landscape Management Plan. These landscapes “enhance, and in some cases protect, the natural, cultural, and historical characteristics” of our home county, per the Livable Frederick Implementation Program, and link our communities together.
In fact, county land use planners have identified several areas that can benefit from “focused attention,” including the Sugarloaf Mountain region, the Middletown Valley and the Catoctin Creek area.
And climate change is adding urgency to these county efforts to protect and sustain these and other local and regional landscapes, productive lands, and natural resources.
Undoubtedly, you know of some gardens and landscapes that can benefit from your personal, focused attention. Early spring is a great time to dig in!
At home: If you have outdoor space with some soil and sunshine, whether a balcony or yard, you can plant and sustain your own garden — your own treasured landscape — in pots, planters, borders and raised beds.
Farther afield: If you have space in a community garden, or others need help with theirs, you can extend your treasured landscape efforts to include those gardens, too.
Community: If your neighborhood, school, church or local park has a Green Team, pollinator garden or tree-planting project, you can work with other volunteers to plant and care for those shared landscapes.
You might be interested to know that in support of these treasured landscapes and gardens, last April, the Maryland senate passed House Bill 322, which compels homeowners’ associations (HOAs) and other organizations to allow low-impact landscaping, such as rain gardens, native plant gardens, pollinator gardens and xeriscaping in subdivisions. The law specifically forbids HOAs to require that cultivated vegetation [in gardens] consist in whole or in part of turf grass, according to an article posted on the Native Plant Society website.
Blanca Poteat is a Frederick County Master Gardener.