Article posted Wednesday, April 13, 2011 12:15pm

Dear Miss Manners,

This may not be a “manners” issue, per se, but rather a social/environmental-responsibility issue: manners that matter to our planet! At any rate, with gardening season coming up, I have reason to be concerned about the wasteful practices of some gardeners. I have been practicing and studying “green” gardening and because I care about our planet, hope that you will help me try to get them to change their wasteful ways.

The first “green” practice is to water plants only if they are truly dry. Running sprinklers for hours, over rock pathways, partial meadows and lawns is not green. Some people have been known to run a hose for hours on trees out in the woods! They wonder why their trees topple over in average winds…it’s because the roots become lazy….why should they dig deep for their water when the water comes to them in absurd abundance?! Nature has its dry spells, and we can help our beloved plants and yards along at these times, but when the ground squishes when you walk on it and mushrooms sprout up in a full-sun place, YOU’RE OVERWATERING! And, “hello,” water is a precious resource.

Secondly, what is up with raking the woods?! Trees need the coverage provided by composting pine needles, leaves and branches. And woodland creatures depend on the protection of bushes, fallen branches, and low-lying trees for their habitats. (Besides, over-cleaning the woods compromises your privacy, as now you are exposed!)

The third “green” practice to consider is to plant native (to Door County, or at least the Northern United States) plants. Although plants from other regions are interesting and fun to experiment with, they can do damage to surrounding native plants.

Fourth in our “green” practice is to stop it already with the chemicals! Conduct a soil test to see what you need in the way of gypsum, lyme, calcium etc. Chemical-based lawn “care” companies are enemies of the planet. The practices they use on your lawns are dangerous. Chemicals dry, become airborne and can then go directly into the bloodstream. Many cancers have been directly linked to these chemicals, as well as Parkinson’s disease and pet death.

Consider planting vegetables and actually eating them. Flowers are nice, too, and provide for bees and butterflies, but veggies are food for humans (duh). Miss Manners, as you can see, I am very serious about the threat that some “gardeners” pose to my family, myself, my pets and my planet. I hope that these non-green gardeners will see themselves here and get with the program. If not, we as neighbors need to take the plunge and confront them. Happy gardening!


Green is more than the color of money

(town name withheld)

Dear Green is more than the color of money,

First of all, please feel free to call me Mary Pat.

It seems to me that you really know your stuff. I am hardly an expert in the matters of gardening, green or otherwise, as is evidenced by my sad little flowerbeds that currently feature last fall’s decaying floral display. I do, however, have common sense in abundance and therefore can easily conclude that your points are valid. Even I know that watering rocks has no valid purpose and is clearly wasteful. And what’s with raking the woods? This also seems to have no valid purpose and is a waste of time if nothing else. As we know, laziness and ignorance can do a lot of damage. So a big thank you for pointing some of these issues out to us, especially the harm that the chemicals can do to pets. (While we’re on that topic, some household plants and flowers can be poisonous to dogs and cats, just as chocolate, onions, garlic, mushrooms, macadamia nuts, grapes and raisins are too. If you have a cat or dog, it is a good idea to do an Internet search for a complete listing of common toxins.)

I don’t see any problem with tactfully letting your neighbors know how they can improve their gardening practices. If nothing else, they might appreciate a lower water bill. Who wouldn’t love that?

Good luck,

Mary Pat

P.S. I’m sending my address in a separate email just in case you need to use my property to demonstrate your gardening skills. I’m willing to make the sacrifice for the greater, soon to be greener, public.