Carole Brown

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by Wendy Gabriel

In honor of Earth Week, I decided to find out how spring looks to some of my favorite sites (and people) around the web. These are some amazing photos they were generous enough to share with me.

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. ~Native American Proverb 

Adam Shake is a Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Simple Earth Media and founded Twilight Earth and Eco Tech Daily. He is an environmental writer, advocate, entrepreneur, speaker and Washington DC based activist. His photos of cherry blossoms in Washington Dc are some of my favorite. [more]

Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard. ~Standing Bear

Alison Kerr is an American from Scotland who lives with her family in a leafy suburb in North East Kansas, within the Kansas City metro. She writes about our connections with nature and with each other and ways to grow greener kids, home, garden, and community at Loving Nature’s Garden. Alison kindly sent me this photo of her gorgeous red tulips. [more]

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Carole Brown is a Conservation Biologist with a passion for Ecosystem Gardening – giving a little back to wildlife by creating welcoming habitats in our gardens, conserving natural resources, and choosing sustainable landscaping practices. Carole has worked as a wildlife habitat landscaper for almost twenty years, designing, installing and maintaining Ecosystem Gardens for wildlife for homeowners, businesses, and other property managers. She is a consultant, educator, and author of Ecosystem Gardening. Avid birder, butterfly watcher, and lover of all wildlife. Carole is also an awesome photographer with an eye for nature. [more]

Marghanita Hughes is a children’s book author, illustrator and the creator of the award winning Little Humbugs. It was while observing her children revelling in the awesome wilderness of their new surroundings in British Columbia that the idea for the Little Humbugs was conceived. Marghanita is passionate about encouraging our children’s interest in the guardianship of The Earth we share. She strongly believes that children can influence change. Her Mission is to deliver this positive message to them through the delightful characters in her enchanting stories. Marghanita shares a Little Humbug and her beloved peach blossoms. [more]

The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man. ~Author Unknown

Melissa Hincha-Ownby is a lifelong writer. Her writing career started at 13 when she wrote a weekly column in her small town’s newspaper. For the past three years, Melissa has focused on blogging and other online writing venues. She is the Business Blogger at the Mother Nature Network and the owner of Raising Them Green, a blog dedicated to providing parents information to help them raise eco-conscious children. Melissa shared a photo of her two children taken by their Grandpa.

Take some time today to connect with nature. Take a walk, notice a budding leaf, marvel at a bird in flight and share the wonder and magic of the outdoors with a child.

Bethe Almeras is an award-winning author, web producer, and eLearning designer. A gifted speaker and trainer, Bethe prides herself on being a kid at heart and sharing the benefits of play with others. Bethe is The Grass Stain Guru and graciously provided this wonderful photo of a redwinged blackbird. [more]

I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes. ~e.e. cummings

How does spring look in your corner of the world?

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by Wendy Gabriel

Carole Brown at Ecosystem Gardening has bestowed upon me the honor of  The Honest ScrapHonest Scrap Award. Like she mentioned in her post, I don’t usually do these kinds of things, but Carole has perfected the art of gentle persuasion, so here it is.

To accept this honor, I have to tell you 10 honest things about myself that you wouldn’t know from reading this site. And I have to tag 7 other bloggers to participate. Thanks Carole!

So here we go, 10 things to know:

  1. My favorite color is purple… any shade. Purple has been my favorite color probably since the day I was born. I’ve never waivered. Other colors have tried to surpass purple in my heart… spring green has come close but purple remains my color of preference.
  2. My dream is to be a published Children’s Book author and illustrator. I have a few books near completion (one I’ve been “working” on since I was in middle school), a journal full of written ideas and sketchbooks full of visual ideas.
  3. I love milk chocolate. I know that all the health benefits come from dark chocolate… but I can’t help myself. My favorite is Green & Black’s Organic (Milk).
  4. I’ve lived in Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and currently in Fargo, North Dakota.
  5. I have three younger sisters. I’m very close emotionally to all of them and very far away in actual driving miles… thank goodness for cell phones, email and texting.
  6. I am a twitter addict. I’ve met some amazing people through twitter (like Carole) and am always learning something new.
  7. I do hug trees… lots of them.
  8. I can’t think clearly when my home isn’t organized… right now it’s not quite organized.
  9. I frequently forget my canvas bags when I go to the store or I only bring one when I need two or three. Luckily, I carry a big purse…
  10. I love lists (which is probably tied in to #8). I make lists for everything. Frequently when I mention something I forgot to do, my six-year-old daughter replies, “You should’ve really put that on a list.”

There it is. Probably more than you ever wanted to know about me! Now it’s time to Sleeping rooster drawn by Wendy Gabriellearn some fascinating things about some other writers.

Tag, you’re it:

  1. Christopher Gabriel at The Christopher Gabriel Program.
  2. Mindy Lockard at
  3. Leslie Quigley at Recycle Your Day.
  4. Marghanita Hughes at
  5. Adam Shake at Twilight Earth.
  6. Becky Striepe at Glue & Glitter.
  7. Katherine Center at

Feel free to stop back and post a link to your Honest Scrap!


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by Wendy Gabriel

Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for GreenGorgeous fall colors Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a different favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1020am (CDT) every Wednesday at

GREEN TIP: Don’t bag your fallen leaves, use them as mulch. Leaf Litter is an essential habitat element for wildlife. It’s good for the environment and saves you money on mulch.

According to Carole Brown, a Conservation Biologist, the practice of removing our yard waste to landfills is enormously unsustainable:

  • We spend endless hours raking, blowing, and bagging the leaves that fall every year.
  • The use of leaf blowers is a source of noise pollution and air pollution, and uses large amounts of non-renewable fossil fuel.
  • These huge piles are hauled away by truck, using more gasoline and causing more air pollution.
  • Often this organic yard material is dumped into landfills, which destroys wildlife habitat.
  • Then we have mulch trucked in to replace the benefits of the leaves we just hauled away.
  • And we replace the nutrients that were freely available from the decomposition of those leaves with synthetic fertilizers, which are another petroleum product.

This cycle cannot be sustained without causing increasing damage to our environment. It is much more sustainable to manage this yard waste on our own properties.

Fortunately, this is very easy to do and also returns nutrients to the soil, provides habitat for many organisms, and ensures healthy plants.

Carole piles up her leaves in every one of her flower beds, sometimes more than two feet deep. In the spring she takes a hand rake and loosen the leaves around her emerging plants, which hide the leaves during the growing season. By the time the next leaves fall, the old leaves have completely decomposed and the soil is ready for a new blanket.

Why do this?

  • There is a cycle of life contained in the leaf litter and we destroy many forms of wildlife every time we remove these leaves.
  • Many butterflies find shelter in the leaf litter, either in egg, pupal, or adult form, to safely wait out the winter and emerge in the spring.
  • Leaf litter provides food and shelter to an amazing variety of invertebrates who break down the leaves, which feeds the soil and other wildlife.
  • Healthy plants are dependent on healthy soil.
  • The deeper the leaf litter, the more spiders are supported. Spiders are an essential element in keeping pest insects in balance.
  • Leaf litter is also home to ladybugs, salamanders, toads, and other predators of pest insects. It is no wonder that pests like aphids thrive when we continue to destroy the habitat of the predators that would keep them under control.
  • Every spring these leaves are covered with birds who pick through the leaves in search of a tasty meal.
  • Trucked in mulch is not necessary when the leaves are left to cover the soil because the leaf litter acts as a natural blanket of mulch, controlling soil moisture and temperature.

There are many gardeners who cannot bear the thought of even one leaf creating a “mess” in their pristine garden beds. But it’s easy to tuck the leaves under your shrubs or in a back corner where they can work their magic and leave your sense of tidyness intact. Or leaves can be composted and then spread over your soil so at least the natural nutrients can be returned to the soil.

The benefits to your local wildlife far outweigh any need for neatness.

Source: Ecosystem Gardening

My Green Side’s weekly website pick:The Garden Conservancy
The Garden Conservancy dedicates itself to restoring and maintaining public and private gardens throughout the country.


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by Wendy Gabriel

Carole Brown is a Conservation Biologist with a passion for Ecosystem Carole BrownGardening–giving a little back to wildlife by creating welcoming habitats in our gardens, conserving natural resources, and choosing sustainable landscaping practices. Carole has worked as a wildlife habitat landscaper for almost twenty years, designing, installing and maintaining Ecosystem Gardens for wildlife for homeowners, businesses, and other property managers. She is a consultant, educator, and author of Ecosystem Gardening. Avid birder, butterfly watcher, and lover of all wildlife.

How do you make your day-to-day life a little greener?

I try to do this in as many ways as possible. We belong to a local CSA for produce as well as a local food co-op, and try to get as much of our food as we can from local sources. I’ve installed CFL light bulbs throughout the house, low-flow adapters on all of the faucets and shower and low-flow toilets.

My next project inside the house is to install a hot water on demand system, which only uses energy when we need hot water as opposed to a traditional hot water heater which is constantly running.

We recycle everything that we can and attempt to find new owners for the stuff that we no longer need, usually by donating it to people in need or to charities who can locate people who need what we have.

I installed a programmable thermostat and keep the temperature as low as possible during the winter. This means wearing wool socks and sweaters through the cold times, but I’ve found that I much prefer that to an overheated house.

I’m always looking for new ways to “green” my life, which is why I so enjoy your “Four Questions” series because I’ve learned a lot from the other people you have interviewed.

You are a Conservation Biologist who teaches people to manage their properties sustainably, in an environmentally friendly and conscious way. How do you educate people to be aware of the impact they are making on the environment?

One backyard at a time. For almost 20 years I have worked as a wildlife habitat landscaper designing, installing and maintaining ecosystem gardens for my clients who included homeowners, businesses, and other property managers.

I’m now continuing this work as a consultant and educator to larger audiences, trying to stress how critical our gardens are to the survival of wildlife and the health of our environment.

We humans have made some pretty bad choices for the environment and we’ve destroyed a lot of habitat in the process. In fact, habitat loss is the number one reason why so many species are in such trouble. Do we really need one more Walmart, Starbucks, or Home Depot?

I try to show people that we can choose to make much healthier decisions, we can give a little back in the form of creating welcoming habitats for wildlife, using more sustainable practices, conserving natural resources, and eliminating our use of toxic chemicals.

I really enjoyed a recent post on your site entitled, Why Your Ecosystem Garden Matters, Even When We Already Have Protected Lands. Can you explain how our gardens can have a huge impact on the health of the wildlife around us?

We have taken so much habitat away from wildlife, either by destroying it outright, fragmenting it into smaller and smaller pieces, or poisoning or otherwise degrading it, that many species simply have nowhere left to go.

This is where our gardens come in: if we can learn to share our space with wildlife, to provide for their needs, we can create habitats that will support many species of wildlife and bring nature right up to our back doors.

By removing invasive species from our gardens and incorporating more native plants we can create beautiful gardens for us to enjoy that also support a wide variety of wildlife, including birds, butterflies, dragonflies, reptiles and amphibians, native pollinators and other insects, and bats and other mammals.

All of these species are dependent, either directly or indirectly, on native plants. When we choose to add more native plants to our gardens we are giving something back wildlife instead of driving them away.

Our gardens can be stepping stones between larger natural areas. When neighbors band together, larger habitats can be created which can become safe corridors for wildlife to use.

You say on your site that you have been saying for years that if every one of us did one small thing for wildlife, the cumulative effect would be enormous, and can contribute to the ecological health of our neighborhoods, regions, country, and even have a global impact. What are some examples of one small thing we could do for wildlife?

• Plant a tree. Oak trees support over 500 species of butterflies and moths, plus many birds and mammals. Many other native tree species also support many butterflies and moths.

• Make a Monarch waystation by planting milkweed and a variety of nectar plants.

• Install a wildlife pond and watch dragonflies, frogs, toads, and birds almost immediately move in. This is truly a “if you build it, they will come” activity.

• Find out which butterflies are native to your area and plant a patch of their host plant. Each species of butterfly is dependent on a particular plant on which to lay their eggs.

• Reduce your lawn. Lawns are a monoculture of (usually) non-native species which support very few species of wildlife. A wildflower meadow with native grasses would be much better for wildlife.

• Fill in that bare spot in your garden with a native plant.

The possibilities are endless, but it’s so important that each of us start with just one thing that will help wildlife. All of us doing this will mean that there’s a lot more places for wildlife to go. It’s the actions of one multiplied by the power of many, and that can only be a good thing!