By Amy Redfield
Scott Barnes once drove four hours – each way – to get some horsetail plants. His very first solo garden would not be complete without the plant that had fascinated him as a child in the fields near his home. That horsetail, and that fascination, have stayed with him everywhere he has gone.
After a lifetime of working indoors in Chicago, Scott moved to the St. Louis region and began to explore his interests. He joined Wild Ones and took naturalist classes. When one of those classes talked about erosion and drainage, he realized that his next gardening project – converting the drainage ditch in his backyard into a gorgeous garden with the help of a very large drain pipe – wasn’t going to happen. How could he be a part of the problem by just moving the erosion down the line to his neighbor’s property, where it would do even more damage?
Instead, an even better garden has come into being, populated by native plants of all varieties, but especially those that butterflies love. Because what is more fascinating than how a butterfly transforms?
That fascination pays off in spades if you are a butterfly. In his home you will find the perfect conditions: your own little house, with a maid to clean it, and fresh-picked food brought in daily. At just the right moment you will be set into the open air, and if you can ignore the excited, lurking man with a camera, you can break out of your chrysalis and fly free. Of course, your photos are likely to be used to educate people about butterflies. Scott is a master naturalist, and he shares his fascination with many people.
Butterflies are Scott’s self-proclaimed gateway bug, but why limit it to bugs? The moment he found a skink in his yard, he had to read everything written about skinks and educate the neighbors not to use chemicals that are harmful to them. And when he found a skink that had lost its tail, the stump of which looked infected and we were in the midst of the drought, what else could he do but open up a skink nursery until the tail regrew? However, that’s not an endeavor he recommends!
Scott’s place is a busy, happy, fascinating site. As he says, “Do I get carried away? Absolutely!”