MY, HOW TIMES have changed. That’s what I keep thinking, looking around my own garden in recent years. I’ve been struck by the same thought over and over as I read “The Comfort of Crows: A Backyard Year,” the latest book by Margaret Renkl (illustrated with gorgeous collages by her brother, Billy Renkl, like the one above), which takes us through a year in her garden 1,000 miles to the south of mine in Nashville.
The “what happens when” of nature is all shifting in the face of environmental change and how we each garden has shifted, too, for Margaret Renkl and for me, and maybe for you as well—toward more native plants and messier fall cleanup and other contributions we can make to our beloved birds and the rest of the natural world that’s increasingly under pressure.
Like many readers, I got to know Margaret Renkl in 2019 upon the publication of her much-praised book “Late Migrations.” Since 2017, she has been contributing a popular weekly “Opinion” column to “The New York Times” each Monday, which the newspaper describes as covering “flora, fauna, politics, and culture in the American South.”
Plus: Enter to win a copy of “The Comfort of Crows” (affiliate link), her latest, by commenting in the box near the bottom of the page.
Read along as you listen to the Oct. 9, 2023 edition of my public-radio show and podcast using the player below. You can subscribe to all future editions on Apple Podcasts (iTunes) or Spotify or Stitcher (and browse my archive of podcasts here).
‘the comfort of crows,’ with margaret renkl
Margaret Roach: Welcome back to the podcast, other Margaret, Southern Margaret. How are you?
Margaret Renkl: It’s amazing how often we’re confused for each other, and I’m not entirely sure why. Just the name
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REDUCING THE footprint of our lawns has been a key environmental message for gardeners in recent years, since lawns lack biodiversity and involve huge amounts of pollution between fertilizers, herbicides, and the gas used in mowing. But what to cultivate instead? That is the subject of a nearly 15-year native lawn research project at Cornell Botanic Gardens in Ithaca, New York, with some interesting insights.
You might be able to guess by the look of our pasta recipe archives, but here at Better Homes and Gardens, we love to use our noodles. From zoodles and gluten-free to stovetop mac and spaghetti, we’re definitely pro pasta.
Human beings have been adorning themselves with botanical jewelry made from seeds for thousands of years, and so can you. Dried bean beads for jewelry are inexpensive and come in an array of colors and patterns, and you can even grow your own. Jewelry made from seeds is a relatively simple project — the only difficulty being drilling a hole through the bean.
Hispanic Heritage Month is a celebration of the rich and diverse culture and history of the Hispanic and Latino countries and communities. It runs from September 15th to October 15th and holds a special significance as many Central and South American countries celebrate their independence days within this timeframe, adding to the pride each country has for its unique history. In this celebration of culture, we cannot overlook the significance of traditional Hispanic foods. These dishes, with their unique blend of influences, reflect the heart and soul of Hispanic and Latino heritage. From mole in Mexico to arepas in Colombia, these culinary traditions tell a story of diversity and flavor.
The white, cottony masses covering the small branches on this American beech tree, Fagus grandifolia, are beech blight aphid nymphs. The nymph’s abdomen is covered with a white, cottony mass of waxy filaments. If the branch is disturbed, the aphids “wag their tails” and do the boogie-woogie.
Glass gem corn is a stunning heirloom variety that can be grown for both ornamental and practical purposes. These tiny gemstone-like corns are not only edible, but you can also use them in crafts, and if you have kids, this is the perfect crop to involve them in gardening.
From squiggly furniture to blob-shaped rugs, it’s clear that curves are making a comeback in design. Bubble houses in particular have been, and continue to be, a fascination when it comes to architecture.
When you dine in or order delivery from a pizza parlor, you’re likely doing so for the pies. Whether it'sDetroit-style, grandma, deep-dish, New York-style, Neapolitan, or pan, chances are that the pizzas themselves are luring you in.
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