My Favorite National Park – Babylon Beacon


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Tom Stock
All I have to do to visit my favorite national park is to take a few steps off my doorstep. I have all the splendor and vistas I need. It is my backyard. Obviously our yard on Willow Street is not a real national park. So, why do I call it that?
I have all the attractions right under my fingertips. I have a wildflower garden. There’s plenty there to keep my attention. The story follows.
I bought two packets of wildflower pollinator seeds and planted them at the end of my vegetable bed. This raised bed contained spinach, chard, and lettuce. I decided to leave a small space for my wildflower seeds. The space was four feet by three feet. I cleared the soil and cast the seeds and lightly covered them.
Fast forward a month. Nothing happened. Not a single sprout, except… weeds. I pulled the weeds and started checking every other day. Still no sprouts, but still plenty of weeds. A week later, I saw tiny sprouts. I didn’t weed because I didn’t know what to weed. I had waited a total of three months before I could tell that my wildflower seeds had sprouted. Their leaves looked different from weed leaves. I became excited. I watered and weeded and eventually, I had wildflowers. I could only identify one plant…poppies. I was thrilled. Within days, my little wildflower plot blossomed, tiny white, large white with yellow center, and blue. The moral of the story is patience. These wildflowers taught me that. I have to wait, keep checking, and one day… surprise.
I spent way too much time watching up close. I saw tiny insects flying about. They are less than 1/8th inch long with wings that slant back, striped abdomens that twitched. I have no need to identify. I have insects interested in my wildflowers. They visited flowers briefly and moved on to others. Pollination is happening right before my very eyes.
I will try to collect dried flowers and save seed. I want the whole grass lawn to become a wildflower paradise!
I took an inventory of isolated wildflowers in the yard. I found 10. Dandelion was the out and out winner. After this, I started to believe that our lot is a national park. We have lawn and landscapers who mow, trim, and blow. My dream is to have a wildflower paradise with no lawn and no noise.
I don’t know if these wildflowers are native to this area. It doesn’t matter. If they want to call them wild, I’ll go along with that. In terms of grass which is all the same height and all the same color, these few wildflowers offer me diversity, various textures and colors. And they attract insects which means that there is interdependence…all this spells national park as far as I’m concerned.
I have a friend, Suzanne Ruggles, whose business is helping people change their lawns into meadows with wild grasses and flowers. She calls herself the Barefoot Gardener. She’s changing the world one lawn at a time.
Nancy, my wife, collected the dried blossoms of New England Aster on Homecoming Organic Farm where we are members. I planted their seeds and many sprouted. This bushy plant sports colorful blue flowers in fall. I plan to add them my tiny, private national park.
The writer is a longtime naturalist, essayist, artist and poet who is the author of two poetry books. He lives in Babylon.

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