Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Meet Our Community: Gail Eichelberger, wildflower party host and wildlife gardener

 


Let's get to know each other!


Since we're not able to meet up in person this year, let's meet online. Every week we're introducing a member* of our Fling community here and on Instagram, in their own words. We're excited to see what everyone's talking about and sharing with their followers!

(*Any garden blogger, vlogger, podcaster, or Instagrammer who follows our Instagram or is a member of our Facebook group. If you'd like to be considered or recommend someone for a Meet Our Community profile, email us.)


Gail Eichelberger



I failed miserably when I started gardening 35 years ago, until I figured out that native plants made sense for the shallow soil over limestone bedrock in my Middle Tennessee garden. Native plants evolved for these conditions, and they’re able to survive in my clay soil that is dry most of the summer and wet all winter.

I decided long ago that a plant had to have more than a pretty face to be invited to my wildflower party. My favorite rough-and-tumble plants, as I call them, must also have excellent wildlife value and need no coddling. They’re simple wildflowers that bloom their hearts out and require little care. Many have never been hybridized, which means they haven't had their best characteristics bred out of them.

I garden for wildlife. Wildflowers like frostweed (Verbesina virginica), goldenrods (Solidago), ex-asters, cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum), and rudbeckias are doing the job nature intended them to do, which is to make a lot of food (nectar and/or pollen) and bloom exactly when the critters need it. Once flowering is over and the seeds ripen, they become feeding stations for over-wintering birds.

There were no local garden bloggers when I started Clay and Limestone in February 2008, and I was sure I could find an audience that wanted to learn about our wonderful native plants. My blog has grown to include a monthly Wildflower Wednesday meme, and many wildflower enthusiasts join from all over the U.S. and Canada, as well as South Africa and the U.K. It would not be hyperbolic to say that garden blogging has enriched my life. I’ve made lifelong friends, seen fabulous gardens, and even attended a blogger event in the U.K.

I love botanical gardens that showcase native plants. Missouri Botanical Garden is one of my favorites. I’m from St. Louis and grew up visiting the garden, and it’s been exciting to see how much their educational outreach about native plants has grown. The gardens are exceptional and showcase the best of Missouri prairies.

Gardening is my passion, and I am grateful for the buzzing bees that led me to the edges of my property and the wildflowers growing there.

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Thanks for sharing your work and your gardening passions with us, Gail! You can follow Gail on her blog, Clay and Limestone, and on Instagram and Facebook.

Photographs courtesy of Gail Eichelberger.

1 comment:

  1. Delighted to see Gail here. I love the term 'rough and tumble plants'. By coincidence I was talking about rewilding on a walk with a friend today and how we'd love to see that happening across the whole of our town x

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