Ken Druse spoke about climate change and gardening at the Green Matters Symposium, “Plant Solutions in The Age of Climate Change,” on Friday, February 24, 2017, in Silver Spring, Md.
Ken is a best-selling and award-winning author and photographer and a popular lecturer. His most recent books include The New Shade Garden and Natural Companions: The Garden Lover’s Guide to Plant Combinations.
I caught up with Ken to hear about some of his views on climate change and gardening.
JG: As the effects of climate change worsen, what consequences can we expect to see in our residential environments?
KD: We will all be affected by aberrant weather events, and we cannot do much about that. It’s likely that there will be periods of drought. Water is a precious resource, and it will be more and more threatened in the coming years. Every year is becoming hotter. Among other things, warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, which eventually comes down to earth. So we may get more snow and flood-causing rains.
JG: What are some of the most important things gardeners and homeowners can do now?
KD: Probably, the best thing a gardener can do is to plant trees, even small trees in small spaces. Trees provide cooling shade, which helps to keep moisture in the ground. They absorb C02 and release oxygen into the air.
Also try to limit lawn areas to only those that are needed for paths or recreation. Instead, plant ground covers and shade-tolerant plants that do not require gasoline-powered mowers, insecticides, herbicides, watering, or fertilizing.
Managing water is very important. Add more organic matter to your soil, so that sandy soils won’t dry as fast and clay soils will hold moisture, and not become rock hard when dry.
I also believe in the “no till” method for making new planting beds, in which compost, leaf mold – or whatever non-peat moss humus you can add – is put on the surface of the soil, and not dug in or turned over. Turning over the soil brings up weed seeds and disturbs the existing “tilth.” The material will become incorporated naturally over time. Use leaf mold as a mulch – never wood chips in beds – and add more of it every year. Compost and other organic matter helps the soil become a massive carbon sink, which is what it is supposed to be.
JG: How can we encourage more people to make changes and adopt greener, more sustainable gardening and landscape practices?
KD: I do see a lot of changes, actually, with young people especially. Many of them want to grow food and only use organic practices. (I just hope they work early in the day before the sun and heat become too much.) These kids demand quality, local food and are well aware of climate change. In many ways, the market is leading the industry. Young parents don’t want their kids anywhere near pesticides, and if they have a lawn service, they demand the use of safe products.
We all have to share our knowledge with more and more people – teach! We should attend symposia, become involved with local planning board meetings, listen to podcasts on this subject, and speak up whenever we get the opportunity – even one to one. If you see something, say something.
JG: Thank you so much for your time and for sharing these insights, Ken. We’re looking forward to the Symposium!
The day-long Green Matters Symposium is geared to home gardeners and landscape professionals and brings together respected horticultural minds from the green industry to explore sustainable design and plant solutions that help address today’s environmental challenges.
Ken will be joined at the Green Matters Symposium by other featured speakers, including Dan Hinkley from Heronswood, Karl Gercens from Longwood Gardens, George Coombs from Mt. Cuba Center, Richard Hawke from the Chicago Botanic Garden, Dr. Richard Olsen from the United States National Arboretum, Claudia West from North Creek Nurseries, and others.
For more information or to register, go to Green Matters Symposium or call 301-962-1451.
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