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Caretakers of the Environmental Community

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The challenge for present-day homeowners, gardeners or Industry professionals is to become naturalists with “waste not, want not” ecological commitments: caretakers of their environmental community.

As the caretaker of family generational properties located in central Virginia; over time, I’ve learned it is easier to work with instead of against an area’s natural environment. As a result, I became labeled eco-wise, next eco-savvy and then, eco-chic. For, to be eco-chic is to understand that
• anything from roof gardens to the use of native plants to environmentally-friendly products and accessories can be a form eco-chic.
• gardens are designed using low-maintenance, water conserving, typically native plants that require minimal upkeep and chemical intervention.
• keeping it simple (as in simple living) is the name of the game. Monochromatic (different shades of the same color) color schemes in soothing shades of green, larger but fewer plants, bolder colors, foliage over flowers, "designer" vegetables, and mixing it up; for example, interspersing "edibles" with flowers.
• eco-friendly products enter the scene in the form of garden accessories. Recycled glass pavers, sculptures and Zen water features made from recycled metals such as copper or aluminum, and for the more whimsical crowd, garden furniture made from discarded items such as sports equipment.

Traditionally, eco-friendly is defined in terms of reduce, reuse and recycle. The term eco-chic takes this definition a step further - a reflection of how we feel about the environment, not simply a lifestyle. Eco-chic invited you to touch, interact with the surroundings. Accessory colors of teal, blue-gray, soft yellow and chartreuse (yellowish green) are mixed with white to keep the look fresh and light; and nature’s greens balance other elements. Nevertheless, through over use and/or abuse, this term has become meaningless. As a result, present-day terms used to describe eco efficient landscapes are described by such words as sustainable, green-scaping and other trendy phrases.

So, as a present-day landscape/gardener, I challenge to you to become a person who has a perspective of CARE: conservation, accountability, recovery and eco efficiency. Adopt a “waste not, want not” commitment. Hitch hike activities onto the seasonal cycles of your area’s identified planting zone. Acquire understanding of your area’s topography, a site’s micro-climate. In other words, adopt a global perspective of striving to create bio-diverse landscapes. At the same time, recognize the value of a ‘master plan’ which enables restoration, enhancement and preservation of a site’s eco-health; and traditional landscape principles which ensure design styles and hardscape such as a home’s architecture match.

For example, to create landscape gardens of CARE is to recognize softscapes – trees and shrubs – not only enable energy efficiency but are the bones of a design. While the terms with which we describe our landscape gardens may vary, be aware these spaces remain a reflection of you, how you feel about the environment – become an eco-legacy. So, join me in a quest. Together, let’s identify and implement strategies that not only preserve and enhance but ensure eco-healthy landscapes of CARE, provide for present-day life styles without sacrificing the future.

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