By Amy Redfield
Ed’s first native garden went entirely to honeysuckle and Euonymus. Not that he thought that was a problem: he figured since he has a very deep lot, why not let the far end of it go back to nature – sort of a wildlife habitat? Less to mow, and better for the environment: a win all around. It wasn’t until he was volunteering at the Litzsinger Road Ecology Center, helping to eradicate their honeysuckle, that he thought, “Uh-oh!”
While he has certainly learned a great deal since his first “native” garden in the early 80s, Ed would be the first to say that he is by no means an expert in native plants. What he is, though, is well-versed in service. Years as a math and science teacher, two years each in Los Angeles and Kenya and another twenty-six in Ladue, plus ten years on the Richmond Heights Library Board including several as president, gave him experience with being organized and keeping order. He puts that experience to good use in holding the “wildness” of Wild Ones meetings down to a dull roar. He is also one of the founders of Teachers for East Africa Alumni, a non-profit dedicated to providing supplies to East African schools, and for which he currently serves as Board Secretary.
But back to that garden. After years of digging out the invasives and planting natives, Ed finally corralled his back yard into a native habitat of the type he first envisioned. After hearing “Oh, they still have YEWS” during a group visit of potential Landscape Challenge recipients, Ed thought, “Hey, I still have yews in my front yard…” That spurred him to turn to landscape designer Jeanne Cablish, who planned a beautiful and very functional native garden. Now in its second year, the garden survived and even thrived in this tough summer, and played host to a Wild Ones meeting.