When Linda Thompson first moved into her house, her backyard was pretty typical: it was on a long slope and comprised of nothing but a lawn. 14 years later, Thompson’s yard has been transformed into a livable landscape full of plants and wildlife and was recently featured on the City of Newark’s Backyard Habitat Tour.
Thompson, who works in the administrative offices at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), said that she first got interested in gardening after being a member of the University of Delaware Botanic Gardens (UDBG).
“After that, I got what you call the plant disease and I just had to have this plant and that plant and thankfully I have a big yard and I made my own flower beds because when I moved in, it was nothing but grass,” said Thompson.
Thompson’s garden is now full of many native plants such as Echinacea, Red Buckeye, Sweetbay Magnolia, Black-eyed Susans, Cardinal Flower and three River Birch trees that support wildlife.
Donna Bailey, who also works in the CANR administrative offices and is a friend of Thompson’s who helped with the Backyard Habitat Tour, said that the garden is always alive with activity.
“The thing that’s so wonderful about the garden is as you sit there and observe quietly, the garden is alive with birds and butterflies and bees and so it’s like a ballet that goes on before your eyes,” said Bailey. “The Goldfinch come in and sit on top of the Echinacea, the hummingbirds come into the Cardinal Flowers. Linda has a birdbath and her neighbor up the street has beehives and the bees have found her birdbaths. The whole yard hums with activity and then the butterflies are everywhere dancing.”
On the day of the tour, Thompson said that 71 people came and looked at her garden from 9:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m., which she described as a nice steady flow of people and never overwhelming.
As for the importance of livable landscapes, Thompson said that they provide many benefits, such as cutting down on erosion and on the need to apply chemicals, but the main thing is that it helps to support wildlife.
“It feeds and protects a variety of critters, that’s my main thing. And also the more plants you have, the less weeding you have to do because the plants fill in and the weeds don’t have a chance to grow,” said Thompson.
As for her favorite part about gardening, Thompson said that the most pleasure she gets is from “seeing the fruits of my labor pay off and watching the critters come around. If you be still, life will come to you and it’s so true. If I sit on my swing, the next thing I know, I’ll see a rabbit or I’ve got a bird or a bee nearby.”
Article by Adam Thomas
Photo by Donna Bailey