Titans of Sustainability

September 11, 2014

Fernwood Botanical Garden: Experience the Wonder by MacKenzie Lair

Filed under: Uncategorized — csfuture @ 2:31 pm


Getting back to nature at Fernwood along the Ecology Trial

The first Spring thaw.  A long awaited event after months of winter’s isolation.  This time of year, we begin to creep cautiously from our dwellings, ready to stop battling the elements and start embracing them.  The peace, beauty and mystery of nature can be found at Fernwood Botanical Garden in Niles, Michigan.  This labor of love was started by Kay Boydston in 1941 and opened to the public in 1964.  It has since grown to include 105 acres of land, an educational nature center, hiking trails, conservatory, and arboretum; as well as a variety of classes for adults, children and family.  Furthermore, Fernwood Botanical Gardens is a slice of sustainability in action, Michiana style.


Tropical Fern Conservatory and model train


Spaces like Fernwood work against the systematic degradation of nature by insisting upon preserving green space along with the plants and critters who call it home.  The high degree of educational resources and activities on local flora and fauna offered by Fernwood exemplifies sustainable values by making our vast, interconnected environment more accessible and understandable to visitor of all ages.



Fernwood Nature Center exhibit


As described in Fernwood’s mission statement, to best make the connection between ourselves and the planet’s resources, it is important that we understand our environment in all of its diversity.  To give an example, one of the most anticipated spring events at Fernwood is the controlled prairie burn.  Contrary to popular belief, human intervention of burning the prairie is not damaging the land, but rather helping to maintain the delicate prairie ecosystem and prepare it for new growth.


Nature preserve information at a scenic look-out at Fernwood


This year, Fernwood is honored to have artist Patrick Dougherty working on the premises.  Dougherty utilizes saplings to create a masterpiece expressing humanity’s deep interconnection with nature.  How can we understand the natural world and humanity’s part therein when we spend so much of our time removed from it?  How do we engage others in sustainable change when our day to day goes by the name of “progress?”  It’s time we rethink “progress.”  If you don’t know where to begin, I suggest you start at Michiana’s own Fernwood Botanical Gardens.





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