Native Garden and Ecolandscaping Resources

Bee on Aster by Katheryn Laible

A few years ago now, I started reaching out to friends and collecting resources that we are pleased to share with you!

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Repair Café South Huntington!

Repair Café Flyer

The Repair Café is Coming to South Huntington

The Repair Cafe is about repairing broke items together. It’s a great place to get advice, learn a thing or two, and be inspired! There are no guarantees, but a promise to try. Many find the experience itself worth the effort. Folks involved are excited to announce that the next one will be held:

When: Saturday, March 16, 2024 from 1-4pm
Where: South Huntington Public Library, 145 Pidgeon Hill Rd, Huntington Station
Want to Help or Learn More? Email starflexp@aol.com
 

Want to Help?

Are you handy? With machines? Electronics? A needle and thread, perhaps?

Would you share this knowledge with others? Just want to keep folks from throwing good things into landfills, maybe help them save a few dollars?  Come with your kids and teach them? Just come to learn and make new friends?

Get involved in The Repair Café!

Learn More!

Check out The Repair Café Long Island on Facebook.

Just scroll through the images there and look at these folks helping each other and learning so much together.

Oh my goodness!

For years now, Laurie Farber of Starflower Experiences has made it part of her mission to help people fix things rather than just throw them out. First efforts in Wyandanch were successful. Then they built on the idea. The concept survived COVID. A natural partner, libraries, LOVE it when she brings her can-do TLC to their spaces. They’ve been to South Huntington before, as well as the Harborfields Library in Greenlawn, Comsewogue in Port Jefferson Station, Copaigue, Lindenhurst, more!
 

She’s got calls coming in for this program Island-wide. Anyone willing to help her answer them is greatly appreciated!

Laurie Explains

You don’t have to be super mechanical. Everybody can teach or help with something.

Said Laurie: “The more volunteers, the faster folks can get things repaired. People need to be able to bring their own tools. We get a lot of TVs and lamps and small electronics. We also could use people who are good with furniture, clothing/textiles (with sewing machine), more people for jewelry, anyone for watches and clocks, and other miscellaneous things (last time we had an ironing board, bicycle, a small statue that needed to be glued back together…).

We could also make space for a mental health person who would take time to listen to folks who just have a need to talk, or anyone who can do massage (sure, we can ‘fix’ people, too!).

Anyone who’d like to do some small DIY demos like how to sew on a button, darn a sock, rewire a lamp… Join us!

Get Involved!

We imagine The Repair Café  would be an EXCELLENT service project for Scouts, and really anyone who wants to promote the fine art of giving things a second chance at life, and to help make the world little thriftier and more self-reliant.

The best way to get in touch is through the Repair Cafe Long Island Facebook Page. You may also contact Laurie at starflexp@aol.com to learn more!!!

Photos of Repair Cafe’s across Long Island. Photo Credit: Laurie Farber.

Autumn Landscaping Resources

Child in leaves

Autumn Landscaping. Plant Something and Chill

It’s taken a full year to feel like our Firefly Gallery is mostly resettled. Tending to that treasure has left both Synchronicity and my gardens sorely neglected.  
 
Fortunately, things are falling into place and there’s still time to tend to these passions! I am grateful to those who encourage me to get back to writing already, and am delighted to report that autumn is a GREAT time for gardening!
Autumn Dogwood
"Autumn Dogwood" photo by Katheryn Laible

On Leaving the Leaves

To explain why this is so beneficial, let’s start with another post from deeply knowledegable local expert Anthony Marinello of Dropseed Natives, “Leave the Leaves!”

This is rapidly becoming a very mainstream concept.

Here’s a piece from Homeserve.com, “Rake It or Leave It? Here’s Why You May Just Wanna Leave Your Leaves Where They Fall,”  one from the USDA, and even one in Good Housekeeping.

Here’s an article from James Doubek for NPR on the subject.

Environmental groups have been saying this for years. Here’s the National Wildlife Federation on why.

And one from The Xerces Society: “Leave the leaves.”

BTW the Xerces Society is interesting. It’s really focused on saving invertebrates. Their work is deeply fundamental and yet applied at our level in the food chain, so it’s also really helpful! Their Facebook page is a wealth of basic, excellent advice.

…There are tips on winter cleanup, saving seeds, a beautiful sight of Monarch Butterflies migrating….

I learned about them from Long Island Native Plant Group on Facebook, a great community of incredibly knowledgeable and helpful folks who think about our local ecoscapes all year long

…but I digress…

…I was talking about leaving the leaves…

Photo of oak leaf on pavement
"Oak Leaf" photo by Katheryn Laible

Well, Most of Them Anyway

The movement to leave the leaves is really important, but should be taken with a little common sense.

It also remains important to keep the driveway clear, as well as stone patios and pathways, assuming you wish to preserve them. The same goes for grass (though a thin layer of leaves may be mowed quite healthfully), which also likes to be aerated from time to time.

On my property, I’m dealing with invasive Norway Maples that I’m working to eradicate and replace with native trees as quickly as I can afford to do so. With them, I have found raking the leaves is fairly important as they seem particularly smother-y and slow to break down. As I am working to reduce their spread, I also want to be able to get their whirlybirds up in the spring!

As such, my approach isn’t so different from what these folks at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have to say, or The Spruce, here.

So, I do continue to rake a bit….mindfully….

Autumn afterblooms
"Autumn Afterblooms" photo by Katheryn Laible

Consider Losing the Lawn

Of course, while lawn health is among the biggest reasons to still rake, folks such as those from Re-Wild Long Island (an incredible collaboration of Long Island experts) suggest you consider doing away with your lawn instead.

This powerful opinion piece in the New York Times suggests you’d best “Kill your lawn before it kills you.”

On the West Coast, this has become a serious affair. Alternatives such as Xeriscaping, which focuses on minimizing water use, have become very popular. There, many factors including severe ongoing drought are coming together to prove that fighting the ecosystem for the sake of grass isn’t worth the trouble.

Related practices are gaining popularity across the country as communities come to realize that tending their own yard is a great way to nurture a healthier environment.

I’m not quite ready to ditch my lawn myself. However, I am committed to neither watering nor fertilizing nor spraying it with chemicals, and to doing all I can to maximize the ecological value of my property.

Here’s a nice piece from Brooklyn Greenways on why native plants are so important.

I am deeply inspired by projects like these “Rewilding Long Island” examples featured on the Rewild Long Island website.

See these 12 Inspiring ideas for a lawn-free landscape from porch.com, and some more on Houzz.

Check them all out and then go, tread lightly into winter, and dream of the upcoming spring.

 

(BTW: You can find resources for that here … it’s never too early to start planning!)

photo looking up at trees in twilight
"Looking Up: After the Fall" photo by Katheryn Laible

Get Support for Going Green: LI Garden Rewards Program

Photo of Echinacea Flowers

As part of a broader initiative to address nitrogen pollution, The Long Island Regional Planning Council (LIRPC) wants homeowners to know about the LI Garden Rewards Program. Through this program, residents may be reimbursed up to $500 for installing green infrastructure on their properties such as rain barrels, rain gardens, or native plantings.

Receipts must show purchases made after 5/1/23. Funds are limited and granted on a first come first serve basis. Don’t miss out!

Folks living in the Peconic Estuary watershed can also be rewarded for removing turf or pavement, and adding rain barrels, rain gardens and native plant gardens. Residents of the Town Hempstead can also participate in a Native Plant rebate program.

Find information on all of it here.

Photo of Black Eyed Susans

About the Long Island Regional Planning Council

The LIRPC is one of the only organizations tasked with considering the long-term economic, environmental, and social well-being of Long Island as a whole. It conducts research, surveys and studies. It also serves as a forum for discourse and debate, touching on topics such as the economy, equity, tax and governance, the environment and infrastructure.

You can learn about various initiatives and insights on the LIRPC website. It’s a great resource.

Photo of Northport Harbor by Katheryn Laible

Photo of Northport Harbor by Katheryn Laible

Why Nitrogen

One major focus of the LIRPC is nitrogen pollution.

Nitrogen is the leading cause of water quality deterioration on Long Island. It comes primarily from a variety of wastewater sources, and stimulates algal growth. This leads to low oxygen conditions, fish kills, and degraded marine habitats.

It also contaminates the groundwater that is Long Island’s sole source of drinking water.

You can learn more about that and the LI Nitrogen Action Plan (LINAP) here. We also have a great, growing resource of sustainable landscaping resources here (tell us more!).

While solutions are multi-faceted, this is a place where individual effort can make significant impact. Go for it!!

Bee on Aster by Katheryn Laible

Photo of Bee on Aster by Katheryn Laible.

Rising Eagle: Please Join Max in Serving the Nassau Museum of Art

Photo of Max Laible at the Nassau Museum with one of his favorite sculptures.

An Eagle Project is one last adventure in a decade-long journey. Max, here, is leading creation of a fence, educational kiosk and model native plant garden that will serve as an enriching gateway to newly restored grasslands at the Nassau County Museum of Art.

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Come Learn: Huntington-Northport Oyster Reef Project

Flyer for a three-part educational series at Town Hall on "How to Improve & Protect our Marine Ecosystem." Join them Tuesday, June 6th at 6pm for the next one!

As part of a larger program, the Huntington Rotary has been coordinating a 3-part forum at Town Hall, “How to Improve and Protect Our Marine Ecosystem” featuring Aquaculture Experts at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County.

Continue reading

Repair Café Needs YOU!!!

Repair Café Flyer

The Repair Café Needs You!

Are you handy? With machines? Electronics? A needle and thread, perhaps?

Would you share this knowledge with others? Just want to keep folks from throwing good things into landfills, maybe help them save a few dollars?  Come with your kids and teach them? Just come to learn and make new friends?

Get involved in The Repair Café!

About the Repair Café

Check out The Repair Café Long Island on Facebook.

Just scroll through the images there and look at these folks helping each other and learning so much together.

Oh my goodness!

For years now, Laurie Farber of Starflower Experiences has made it part of her mission to help people fix things rather than just throw them out. First efforts in Wyandanch were successful. Then they built on the idea. The concept survived COVID. A natural partner, libraries, LOVE it when she brings her can-do TLC to their spaces. They’ve been to South Huntington, the Harborfields Library in Greenlawn, Comsewogue in Port Jefferson Station, Copaigue, Lindenhurst, more!
 

She’s got calls coming in for this program Island-wide. Anyone willing to help her answer them is greatly appreciated!

Laurie Explains

You don’t have to be super mechanical. Everybody can teach or help with something.

Said Laurie: “The more volunteers, the faster folks can get things repaired. People need to be able to bring their own tools. We get a lot of TVs and lamps and small electronics. We also could use people who are good with furniture, clothing/textiles (with sewing machine), more people for jewelry, anyone for watches and clocks, and other miscellaneous things (last time we had an ironing board, bicycle, a small statue that needed to be glued back together…).

We could also make space for a mental health person who would take time to listen to folks who just have a need to talk, or anyone who can do massage (sure, we can ‘fix’ people, too!).

Anyone who’d like to do some small DIY demos like how to sew on a button, darn a sock, rewire a lamp… we may need someone to act as “host” in watching and replenishing the coffee, cookies, etc. Anyone who wants to bake cookies or banana bread or small things that don’t require silverware or plates or who’d like to donate a basket of apples is also welcome.

Get Involved!

We imagine The Repair Café  would be an EXCELLENT service project for Scouts, and really anyone who wants to promote the fine art of giving things a second chance at life, and to help make the world little thriftier and more self-reliant.

The best way to get in touch is through the Repair Cafe Long Island Facebook Page. You may also contact Laurie at starflexp@aol.com to learn more!!!

Photos of Repair Cafe’s across Long Island. Photo Credit: Laurie Farber.

Autumn Landscaping Resources

Child in leaves

Autumn Landscaping. Sorry I'm Late!

This year, what with all the all at our gallery, every other plan I had went out the window.

Both Synchronicity and my gardens were sorely neglected.  

I am thus late with this article and still struggling to accomplish basic fall cleanup.

Fortunately, while I still have important work to do, I am comforted by a whole host of experts who now recommend taking it easy on the leaf removal.

Autumn Dogwood
"Autumn Dogwood" photo by Katheryn Laible

On Leaving the Leaves

This is rapidly becoming a very mainstream concept.

Here’s a piece from Homeserve.com, “Rake It or Leave It? Here’s Why You May Just Wanna Leave Your Leaves Where They Fall,”  one from the USDA, and even one in Good Housekeeping.

Here’s an article from James Doubek for NPR on the subject.

Environmental groups have been saying this for years. Here’s the National Wildlife Federation on why.

And one from The Xerces Society: “Leave the leaves.”

BTW, I just discovered the Xerces Society, which is focused on saving invertebrates. Their work is deeply fundamental and yet applied at our level in the food chain, so it’s really helpful! Their Facebook page is a wealth of basic, excellent advice.

…There are tips on winter cleanup, saving seeds, a beautiful sight of Monarch Butterflies migrating….

I learned about them from Long Island Native Plant Group on Facebook, a great community of incredibly knowledgeable and helpful folks who think about our local ecoscapes all year long

…but I digress…

…I was talking about leaving the leaves…

Photo of oak leaf on pavement
"Oak Leaf" photo by Katheryn Laible

Well, Most of Them Anyway

The movement to leave the leaves is really important, but should be taken with a little common sense.

It also remains important to keep the driveway clear, as well as stone patios and pathways, assuming you wish to preserve them. The same goes for grass (though a thin layer of leaves may be mowed quite healthfully), which also likes to be aerated from time to time.

On my property, I’m dealing with invasive Norway Maples that I’m working to eradicate and replace with native trees as quickly as I can afford to do so. With them, I have found raking the leaves is fairly important as they seem particularly smother-y and slow to break down. As I am working to reduce their spread, I also want to be able to get their whirlybirds up in the spring!

As such, my approach isn’t so different from what Soil Seed and Garden.com says here, or The Spruce, here.

So, I do continue to rake a bit….mindfully….

Autumn afterblooms
"Autumn Afterblooms" photo by Katheryn Laible

Consider Losing the Lawn

Of course, while lawn health is among the biggest reasons to still rake, folks such as those from Re-Wild Long Island (an incredible collaboration of Long Island experts) suggest you consider doing away with your lawn instead.

This powerful opinion piece in the New York Times suggests you’d best “Kill your lawn before it kills you.”

On the West Coast, this has become a serious affair. Alternatives such as Xeriscaping, which focuses on minimizing water use, have become very popular. There, many factors including severe ongoing drought are coming together to prove that fighting the ecosystem for the sake of grass isn’t worth the trouble.

Related practices are gaining popularity across the country as communities come to realize that tending their own yard is a great way to nurture a healthier environment.

I’m not quite ready to ditch my lawn myself. However, I am committed to neither watering nor fertilizing nor spraying it with chemicals, and to doing all I can to maximize the ecological value of my property.

Here’s a nice piece from Brooklyn Greenways on why native plants are so important.

I am deeply inspired by projects like these “Rewilding Long Island” examples featured on the Rewild Long Island website.

See these 12 Inspiring ideas for a lawn-free landscape from porch.com, and some more on Houzz.

Check them all out and then go, tread lightly into winter, and dream of the upcoming spring.

 

(BTW: You can find resources for that here … it’s never too early to start planning!)

photo looking up at trees in twilight
"Looking Up: After the Fall" photo by Katheryn Laible

Happy Father’s Day!

Photo of my father, wandering the village of his grandfather

Thinking About Fathers by Katheryn Laible

Happy Father’s Day!

Here is a photo of my own father, wandering through the village of his grandfather, telling stories about him, the mother he raised, his own father, and his father…

I am grateful for him, for them, for my sweet husband, and for all who give it their best to be a good man and serve as a father. It means more than I can say….Thank you!

Apparently Father’s Day didn’t come about until quite a few decades after Mother’s Day. In fact, while in the US it was apparently initiated by a woman named Sonora Smart Dodd in 1909, whose dad raised her and her five siblings alone, it didn’t become an official national thing until 1972!

You can read about that and other fascinating bits in this Britannica entry, as well as in this History.com article.

I love this collection of “The Best Quotes on Fatherhood” from The Art of Manliness

Did you know there’s a National Fatherhood Initiative dedicated to helping foster fatherhood?

I am also really, really grateful for all who step up to serve in a fathering role, This expecially includes all those folks who for one reason or another end up wearing both mother and father hats, and those who are determined to be the father they wish they had.

One sweet and broadly helpful example is this guy, Rob Kenney who hosts “Dad, how do I?” on YouTube. Kenny’s dedicated to doing his “best to provide useful, practical content to many basic tasks that everyone should know how to do.” He started out just trying to do it for his own kids, and now we all benefit.

Grateful!