The Urban Oasis
By Clarissa Hatley
It was easy to locate the yard belonging to Master Gardener Ann Kynion, Springfield’s latest Yard Ethic Gold Certified Yard. Saying she has a passion for plants and pollinators seems like an understatement.
Ann’s property is an urban oasis. I quit counting the number of native species after about thirty and enjoyed the grand tour. On our journey through the property, I learned more than a few important tips, such as painting rocks to deter birds from eating strawberries and that committing “Crepe Murder” is a ghastly pruning practice.
The most striking feature is that there are more native beds (approximately 4,600 sq. ft.), vegetable and fruit gardens, trees and bees than there is turf lawn.
Complete with outdoor sculpture art and glimmering geode-lined paths, the well-kept grass serves as more of a gateway to pollinator habitat. Two bee swarms hum with active workers returning to painted hives loaded down with pollen. Trees, including towering sycamore and walnut, shade much of the lot and provide homes for birds and potentially bats, while elderberry, ninebark, redbud and maple draw the eye and feed the mass of birds and pollinators. Rain barrels sit at the back corner of the house, collecting over 110 gallons of water for the garden. A three-bin pallet compost system allows for ideal kitchen scrap and yardwaste breakdown. When the compost is mature, it is spread on the lawn and garden beds, along with mulch, to maintain the optimal balance of soil organic matter listed in the Lawn Steward organic nutrient management plan. Ann even goes the extra mile for her soil by leaving most leaves on the yard over winter for beneficial insect habitat, then having the mowers mulch and leave all leaf litter on the yard rather than bagging or raking.
If you are interested in pollinators and Monarchs, keep an eye out for one of Ann’s presentations at the Springfield-Greene County Botanical Gardens or Lawn and Garden Shows.