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Ozarks Gardener
Gives Back to Nature

Gail Rowley
Despite the abundance of wildlife in Gail Rowley's garden, she is still able to grow plenty of vegetables, including peas, spinach, carrots, garlic, herbs, broccoli, cauliflower, beans, squash, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.
When Gail Rowley settled into her home in Willow Springs, Mo., she knew she had found her garden dream. "We're fortunate to have a variety of terrain: dry glades, woodland hills and hollows, fescue fields -- even gravelly wetlands," she says. By amending the soil with seaweed, leaves and compost -- and by closely observing which plants thrived in which place -- Gail has established an abundant flower and vegetable garden.

In fact, Gail is so grateful for her good fortune that she decided to make her garden into a sanctuary -- not just for her family and friends, but also for the songbirds, game birds, deer and other wildlife. All of her plants are chosen to provide food and cover for wildlife as well as for beauty.

A butterfly is drawn to a coneflower blossom.
In Gail's garden, swallowtail and monarch butterflies flutter among the flowers. Hummingbirds sip from coneflowers, and bright goldfinches eat coreopsis seeds. Quail feast on false indigo seeds, turkey take cover under spicebush, and bees hover over showy buttonbushes.

Having all this wildlife hasn't hurt the productivity of Gail's vegetable garden. "We grow peas, spinach, carrots, garlic, herbs, broccoli, cauliflower, beans, squash, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers" -- enough to feed her family and still put some up for later. Gail believes that the thriving population of insect-eating birds, toads and beneficial insects keeps pests in check, and makes her garden easy to tend.

"My garden rewards me in more ways than I ever imagined," Gail says. "Gardens, and the life they encourage, teach us all. Humans thrive on relating to nature, and to the natural wonders that flourish all around them. Our children grow healthier when they have a chance to be around gardens."

Congratulations, Gail, for doing your part to make the world a better place -- one garden at a time!

Last updated: 10/24/15