posted in <<Featured > High Desert Healing > THRIVE! EXPERTS

High Desert Healing
My magic wild lawn
rockin' a non-toxic lifestyle in the mountains of northeastern Arizona

One big gripe of mine as a person affected by severe chemical sensitivity is the ubiquitous use of neurotoxic pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides across America and much of the world. I have always loved the idea of having a wild lawn (better yet, a wild garden) that celebrates the majestic beauty of nature in action, and I have my chance now that I have settled into a more permanent safe living situation.

Without my doing a thing, my whole backyard turned into a magic wild lawn this summer. I live in northeast Arizona, up in the mountains, in high desert country. Our annual “monsoon” season brought more rain than usual for this area and the landscape transformed seemingly overnight. New plants cropped up everywhere, creating a lush wild garden landscape all around my home. With the new and diverse plant life came a wide array of insects that we had never seen before – what looked like a cross between a butterfly, moth and hummingbird, a bee-fly, a red velvet looking beetle – every day brought new discoveries.

The high shaggy desert grasses and overgrown weeds provided a protective home to many, and new birds came to prey on the increased insect life. With the saturated monsoon skies came beautiful cloud formations, set against deep dusky blues, lavenders, pinks, and purples each night as the sun set. More than once I saw full double rainbows (yes, two vibrant rainbows sitting parallel to each other!) right after a rain. Much of this beauty would be lost if I created a stiff and “clean” looking manicured lawn using toxic chemicals, as much of the world chooses to do. Will we learn to appreciate the beauty in biodiversity before it’s too late?

Next year I hope to have researched native flora so I can throw some wild seed (including edible weeds) across my lawn during monsoon season and see what develops. I’m also going to study globe mallow, a medicinal herb with many uses, which seems to have rooted itself firmly in my yard.

As the summer comes to a close and the rains make way for the wind, I wanted to share some photographs of my magic summer lawn. You can click on each photo to see a larger image. Enjoy! Oh, and if you know the names of any of these plants, please let me know in the comments section below.

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posted on September 4, 2010 |


  • Dawn

    September 5, 2010 at 8:53 am

    How ironic that Google Ads put an advertisement for Roundup on this page.

  • earthwalker

    September 5, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Ironic but also expected. Their targeted advertising is not perfect. They see the word “pesticide” and send pesticide ads even if the intention of the page is anti-pesticide. It happens with pharmaceutical companies as well – you write about non-drug approaches to healthcare but if you include the word “pharmaceutical” or “drug” in the page and you get drug ads. Very frustrating and all I can do is try to block individual companies, which is tedious but is all I can do.

  • Laurie Tumer

    September 5, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    I love your pictures of your wild lawn! Beautiful. I have made a meadow with native grasses and scrubs in the city; the grass is chest high now I am about to harvest the seeds and take them elsewhere. On the hill a friend helped me identify the native plants during the last years and I’m learning to recognize and say them: Groundel, Dove Weed… Reminds me of what the poet Gary Synder always mentions:

    “It’s not enough just to know yourself. You have to become more aware of yourself and your context which is your world. In a sense, the world is our mind…good manners requires you to get to know the names of the plants and flowers and birds; that’s good etiquette.”

    I have a ways to go!

  • earthwalker

    September 5, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    You are incredible Laurie! I love that you are growing grass in the city to harvest seeds for the country. And I absolutely love the Snyder quote, it really, really touched me. As if plants and flowers and birds would be offended by our poor etiquette. Well, of course!! I should get a book on native flora for this area too. So glad you liked this column and the photos! xx Julie

  • Linda

    September 6, 2010 at 5:42 am

    Thank you for sharing, just beautiful Julie/Earthwalker. I always enjoy your photos and spirit. You seem so at peace– even though I know you have difficult times. You are an angle in my thoughts.

    I was out west when I was 19, and I remember how beautiful the sky was so clear especially at night.

    Happy Labor Day my friend. I don’t talk to you enough. :) hugs, Linda xo

  • Julie Laffin

    September 10, 2010 at 6:56 am

    i love seeing your plants JG. beautiful. and i can vouch for laurie’s amazing garden in NM. it transformed in many beautiful ways while i was there. xo, j8

  • earthwalker

    September 10, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    Thank you so much for your kind words, Linda. What a beautiful message to receive from you! Sending love back, xx Julie

  • earthwalker

    September 10, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    Thanks JL! Glad you liked the photos. xx Julie

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