Garden Mindset: Native Plants & Humans' Landscapes Winter 2024

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Class Details

Why have we humans planted what we have planted where we have planted things? Do these historical choices still make sense, in an era of rapid climate change? These questions will guide “Garden Mindsets: native plants, pollinators and human-planted landscapes.” Plants – with their seemingly magical ability to transform sunlight into sugars – are the basis of every ecosystem and food web on earth. Beautiful plants please human aesthetic senses, and, even more importantly, they tranform sunlight into food, homes and shelter for all other living creatures on earth. At the same time, plants can only make seeds, to reproduce themselves, when they are pollinated, often via specialized relationships with specific insects. Pollinators everywhere are in rapid decline, and, humans can better support plant-pollinator relationships, and thus food webs, via our landscaping choices and practices. As Doug Tallamy, one of the most well-known leaders of the movement to use native plants more widely has stated: Every square inch of planet earth has ecological significance, even where we live, work and play. If we landscape these areas with plant function as well as aesthetics in mind, we can create viable habitat where humans are, not just where humans are not. Conservation is not just something “out there”, it can take place in our own backyards and town environs. This course will provide hands-on opportunities to grow native plants, and to learn how to use them in our human-designed landscapes in ways that benefit pollinators. We will learn how to use ecologically sound methods to convert small areas of lawn into pollinator habitat, and, students will learn simple garden design techniques. We will read books, watch videos, and interview experts, introducing participants to ecological gardening and the movement to create beautiful, ecologically “useful” garden habitats, in an era of rapidly changing climate.
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: 20
Expected: NA
Class#: 1105
Grading: pass/fail only
Requirements/Evaluation: Paper(s) or report(s); Presentation(s); Performance(s); Creative project(s); Other: Students may choose to design a planting, or, write a paper about their experiences, or, compile annotated resource bibliography for community use. Skits or plays could also be developed!
Prerequisites: None save for a willingness to read and learn about native plants, via talk and video, books and field trips.
Enrollment Preferences: Students who truly want to use this knowledge to inform summer gardening and landscape practices. Experience in gardens not necessary, more, a willingness to learn and think about human-plant-planted landscape relationships. Selection via short essay
Unit Notes: Laura Bentz, M.Ed., has created native plant-based gardens for thirty years, frequently using plants grown from native seed. Her local portfolio includes gardens for pollinators at The Spruces & Caretaker Farm, as well as private homes.
Materials/Lab Fee: $95
Attributes: EXPE Experiential Education Courses
SLFX Winter Study Self-Expression
STUX Winter Study Student Exploration

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