By Zaria Dyer, conservation intern
An interview with Kit Robey, children's author and gardener, about the certification of her yard as a Georgia Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary.
Can you give us a brief description of your children's book Hare and the Big Green Lawn?
In Hare and the Big Green Lawn, Hare moves in and lets his big green lawn die under the high hot sun. Hare’s neighbors, Bobcat, Raven, and Skunk, disapprove, to say the least! While they toil and clip, Hare crosses his paws for luck and swings in a hammock. One day, the neighbors march solemnly up to Hare to give him an ultimatum. But instead of a big mess they discover that Hare’s lawn has changed into a beautiful meadow filled with buzzing bees and wildflowers that brings them all together.
How did you get interested in conservation, and how did that lead you to get your property certified?
I was introduced to the idea of conservation when I was a little girl and my father placed 20 acres or so of my childhood home, Silver Creek Farm, into the Soil Bank. He was reimbursed, in part, by Wisconsin, for leaving his field fallow instead of tilling the soil for timothy. In the meadow that summer I found the oven-like nest of a meadowlark.
What is the one plant you cannot live without?
Oakleaf Hydrangea is native and looks fantastic year-round. My plants are in full luscious white blooms now, in late spring. During summer the blooms will turn green and by fall, bronze. Then I can bring them inside for a dried bouquet. In the winter, the leaves turn colors and then drop, leaving marvelous sculpture-like branches until spring, when the buds spring forth again.
Which plant gives you the most bang for your buck?
Well, again Oakleaf hydrangea, but there are various holly species in my yard, all of which provide green throughout the year and red berries during fall and winter. I’ve seen Brown Thrashers, Cardinals, and, of course, Cedar Waxwings feasting on those berries. These holly bushes also provide wonderful shelter for the birds.
Do you have a favorite trick to maintain your property and plants?
I am a bit sheepish to admit this, but if I have a trick, it is to leave maintenance up to nature alone. To a large extent, I leave pruning to the wind, and wildflowers to the rain. I’m always looking for ways to improve upon this idea. We have a large downed tree in our back woods, and I wouldn’t have it removed for anything. Come winter, there will be Winter Wrens in the shelter of its tangled branches. Eventually the tree will disintegrate and enrich the soil, where I plan to plant trilliums.
Georgia Audubon is building places where birds and people thrive.