For many years, I lived in portions of the United States—namely Northern California and Central Texas—that had times of little rainfall or outright drought. As a result, when I would garden or work in parks or public gardens, I became focused on making sure whatever I planted would survive. In Austin (Central Texas), I called my efforts "the garden of tough love." At the same time, I became much more aware of the challenges of invasive species (especially trees and plants) on our natural landscapes and spent a lot of time working to manage invasives in natural areas—something I still do as a volunteer quite a bit.
So, in addition to trail maintenance and rebuilding, removing invasives, and planting natives, when I turn my attention to gardening—both at home and as a volunteer at the Rose Kennedy Greenway—I enjoy sharing lessons learned over many years of trial and error. My primary principles are to plant native and make a mess. Precisely organized gardens and imported exotics are not for me, particularly since they don't allow for much experimentation and don't create habitat for all our native insects, birds and other critters. My messy style allows me to simply pop in a different plant where one has failed, and see what happens.
I like to bring together a loose and wild variety of hardy species and support a wide variety of insects while I'm at it. When I meet others who are interested in encouraging biodiversity with native plants in yards, I refer them to Homegrown National Park for more information, and share this favorite cartoon.