Labor of Love: Margaret and Charlie on their first ReWilding Experience

Margaret and Charlie DeSiervo are long time gardeners and advocates of sustainable practices. They ReWilded their yards in the past fall and reflect on their experience.

We moved to Port Washington almost 30 years ago.  We love our town and our goal has always been to have a small footprint and preserve the natural beauty around us.  For the past 15 years we have been trying to reduce our water use in general and specifically have an organic vegetable and flower garden with a drip water system that reduce garden water.  

Our organic front garden contained numerous perennials (Tiger Lilies, Cosmos, Marigolds, Borage etc.) and some annuals that we purchased at a Bayles, a local nursery.  This spring our goal took a giant leap forward when we joined Rewild and discovered a community of Port Washington residents interested in preserving our neighborhood’s natural beauty. We were lucky to be selected as a member of the first group of 12 “family pioneers” chosen to rewild our garden with native plants of Long Island.

The first step was to attend a pioneer Rewild meeting with Rusty, a landscape architect, who explained our mission and showed us photos of the different plants that are native to Long Island. We were also given a google satellite photo of our property. Then we individually met with Rusty and his assistant Ashley who assisted us in selecting beautiful and colorful flowering plants that are kind to nature, birds, butterflies and bees and will survive on rainwater. They also helped us to plot out were we should plant the flowers and bushes (in our case blueberry bushes).  In addition, they suggested that we redo our lawn with “nomo grass” that needs very little water and only requires cutting twice a year.  A few days after the meeting Rusty came to our property and reviewed with us the plans for our garden.

In early June we purchased all our native plants from Rewilding at highly discounted prices on plants that are not easily available at the box stores. Then the labor of love began.  We replaced our sad side hedges with a dozen blueberry bushes and planted about 50 native plants (Asters, Iron Weed, Blazing Star etc.) alongside our perennials in our front garden.  As for the lawn, we put cardboard over our grass and about 4” of mulch over the cardboard to kill the old grass and seeds. We celebrated “Labor Day” weekend by tiling the soil and planting our nomo seed. One-week later grass seedling spouted. I confess at times it was a lot of hard labor maintaining/improving the garden, but working in your garden can also be joy, exercise and relaxation. And, as they say, if you love what you are doing it isn’t really work.

I must say for all the years we have been gardening, we knew very little. This year has been a whirlwind of knowledge. Rewild has many fellow gardeners with a wealth of knowledge who are more than happy to share with novices like us. The organization has a mixed group of members that are Master-Gardeners, Landscape Architects, Biologists, Real Gardeners and members like us that need lots of help. We look forward to our monthly meetings where we interact with this knowledgeable group of fellow members. It is incredible that we made so many new friends with similar aspirations in our beautiful town. We have a lot more to learn and we are up for it.  After all it is a labor of love and the only footprints, we are leaving are in our Rewild garden.

In the morning we open our front door, take a deep breath and look at a garden with bountiful flowers blowing in the wind watching the birds, butterflies and bees flying around reaping the fruits of our labor. What a way to start the day!

ReWild Long Island