Back to Nature (Published on - Aug. 18, 2005)
Invite yourself and nature to your own backyard
Photo by Rick Tremmel
Watch the sunrise colors spill upon your water garden over white, blue, pink and yellow water lilies.
A bubbling waterfall, a water garden stocked with shimmering Koi jewels, a circular bench around an old oak tree, a hammock strung between two trees, an outdoor fireplace, a place for little green bees and butterflies to sip nectar and gather pollen, a feeding station for birds or a bird bath, however you imagine it, create a backyard oasis.

Watch the sunrise colors spill upon your water garden over white, blue, pink and yellow water lilies. Discover the stars, the milky way or the planets beyond. Read a book while resting in a hammock, sipping fresh garden mint tea.

Some people seem to have a knack for creating special spaces while others are challenged on where to place the picnic table. Don’t be discouraged. Resources abound, including your local Extension office and home improvement stores. You’ll discover that a pleasant tour of the Pinellas County Extension gardens will furnish you with terrific ideas to get started. Follow up with meeting a friend for lunch at the Florida Botanical Gardens. It would be impossible to leave uninspired.

Turning your backyard into an oasis does not mean that you also have to burn a hole in your pocketbook. You will be amazed at what you can find at discount and secondhand stores, just for taking the time to go on a treasure hunt. If you are one of those early risers that loves cruising garage sales, then you have it made.

First imagine what kind of enchanting space you want to create, perhaps a place for a family barbecue, possibly build a simple butterfly garden near the pool or place a bird feeder in front of the kitchen window. The sky’s the limit.

On Aug. 20, folks all across America will come together in backyards, parks, and camps to enjoy a night of star-gazing, listening for nocturnal wildlife, and exploring a whole other world right in their backyard. With a little planning you may fancy taking part in the Great American Backyard Campout.

The National Wildlife Federation is extending a nationwide invitation to Americans to attend the Great American Backyard Campout and discover a wild new world in your own backyard! Be part of this nationwide event.

Go online to add your campsite. The NWF Backyard Campout Web site will assist you in making the most of your event with packing lists, recipes, nocturnal wildlife guides, exploration activities, a night sky-guide, local weather and more. One quick note to our Floridian campers, it was 86 degrees at 11 p.m. last night. Make certain you have lots of insect repellent, cold drinks and no one has said you can’t plug in a cooling fan into the outlet next to the barbecue.

Let us know if you’re going to join the Great American Backyard Campout with us and the more than 20,000 other Americans. After the campout, return to the American Backyard Campout Web site to share your photographs and stories for a chance to win a Backyard Weather station from WeatherBug and be profiled in Ranger Rick magazine!

Americans return to your backyards. Campout or create an oasis. Watch swallowtails and monarchs in a butterfly garden flowered in multicolor. Roast marshmallows over a fire or set your telescope toward the stars.

Invite yourself and nature back into your own backyard. Imagine how one bird feeder or one butterfly plant, one bat house or one small water garden, one cooling shade tree or one owl house – times thousands – could create a better world for all of Mother Natures creatures including us, back to nature.

Karen can be reached at

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