News from the Skaneateles Lake Association

News from the Skaneateles Lake Association

Tis the Season –  Gifts for the Watershed                                                     Mary Menapace

 The holiday gift list is a tangible reminder of the essence of the season – the joy of sharing our blessings with loved ones.  This year, consider our watershed – all you can see when you stand on the pier in the village looking south – the entire valley, all the streams and the lake.  Consider, every time we have cleared to build, drained to farm, paved a drive, manicured more lawn, and most especially cut down a single tree –our human imprint on the land has compromised the natural buffers of forest, meadow and wetland.  

Layered natural landscapes (leaves, groundcovers, shrubs and trees) capture rain, allowing it to filter into the earth rather than running into the lake.   We struggle with the harms of increased runoff in eroded stream banks, failing roads, crumbling lakefront and toxic algae.  However, there is a joyful way to begin the urgent work of renaturalizing the land, thus healing the waters.  It is gardening  –  one of the most popular hobbies in America!  Let your holiday gift giving be about this essential and beautiful work –using native plants to rebuild bigger better buffers for a healthier more resilient watershed.  Here’s how:  Gift a subscription to Habitat Gardening of Central New York, ($40) out of Liverpool, or the Finger Lakes Native Plant Society ($20) based in Ithaca.  Bookmark  their websites for their robust programming and extensive resources.  Sign your friends and family up for their free newsletters.  Gardening for habitat directly translates to landscaping for water quality.

What kid doesn’t love to dig in the dirt?  Gift a bug net and magnifying glass, insect and bird identification guides, and a gift certificate to Prairie Nursery Native Plants and Seeds.  Over the winter with your little one, learn about native plants, and figure quantities (math!)  As they tend their little piece of the backyard next spring, they’ll be cultivating not just the land but patience and stewardship.  Oh, and don’t forget a journal to maintain a bug and bird list over the years, there will be lots of fascinating visitors.

 Nudging green thumbs, choose a garden apron, a hand tool or sunhat, and a generous gift certificate to one of the four regional nurseries that specialize in propagating native plants.  All of them keep up extensive, illuminating websites and free newsletters.  All have proprietors that are eager to share their wisdom and experience, including design services.  Spread the wealth, buy from each – (alphabetically) Amanda’s Garden in Dansville, Nannyberry Native Plants in Fulton, The Plantsmen in Groton, and White Oak Nursery in Canandaigua. 

 The holiday gift list can also be, alas, an ode to commercialism.  Resist more stuff!  Instead, share the joy and beauty of native plants and you’re giving a legacy gift to our beloved watershed. 

Mary Menapace works with the Skaneateles Lake Association on outreach and education.  If you are not a member already, Join!  

Source:  Skaneateles Press