This is the first in a series of Goth Garden posts. To keep your goth garden amongst the living, you must commit to continual change. Plants live, plants die, and some plants come back from near death if you tend to your black thumb. I won’t pretend to know your climate and what lives and dies in your zone at various times of year… that would be up to you. But I will give you ideas to mix and match in your garden to make it spooky, eerie, or even somewhat disturbing. Some of the best ideas aren’t even plants, and will survive anything short of disaster. And that’s what we’re going to start with!
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I don’t know about you, but I’d be damned with giddiness to perch this fanged savage at my garden gate. Problem is, I don’t have a garden gate. But when I do (and I will), this is going to attract creepers and invitees alike to my twisted garden lair. He serves as a warning that chances of survival are bleak.
It’s nearing summer, and if you’re like me, that fills you with dread. Not the good kind of dread, but the ready kind of dread. At least if you live in a state where the weather can top 100°F for days in a row, and you’re a delicate flower petal who wilts in the heat. All summer long you pine for autumn, with its crisp breezes and the best holidays ever.
There’s a need that has to be filled for those of us who count the days ’til autumn… a psychological need to line up one’s neurons with reminders that dreaded summer will not last foreverrrrrr. I equate autumn with eeriness, and if you’re reading this, you quite possibly do as well. So, what better to caress the hope and make the wait tolerable than to sink one’s brain into the eerie world we hold so dear? Books! Spooky ones!
I’ve been fascinated by fireflies since I first saw them near Houston, Texas when I was 7 years old. My aunt Joan took me out to her backyard acreage for a treat, not telling me in advance what I was going to see. That was ::cough!:: 40 years ago, so I may not remember details exactly, but I vaguely remember sitting on a 3-person canopy swing with my mom and Aunt Joan at dusk, and being fascinated by the little light show that was starting to twinkle and blink. I don’t think there were many, which isn’t surprising since fireflies mostly reside in the eastern states, but there were enough to start a lifelong love. I was enamored!
I’m worried, as I keep reading that firefly populations are dwindling, and may one day be nonexistent. It hurts my heart. I’m a native Californian, and although we supposedly have a smattering of fireflies somewhere in this state (don’t ask me where, as I’ve never seen one here), I’ve longed for years to live in a place where they’re common. I’ve heard we have glow worms – which, again, I haven’t seen, but they don’t really count because they don’t illuminate fields like runaway Christmas lights.
Some theories as to why fireflies are disappearing are development, light pollution, and pesticides. Development replaces firefly habitats with homes and businesses, obviously. Light pollution prevents mating by dulling the signals male and female fireflies use to find one another (the loneliness!). Pesticides just plain kill them (thanks, Monsanto).
If you have leaf litter in your yard, keep it rather than dumping it. Set aside a space in your yard for it, or start a compost pile. Same with rotting logs, where some species of larvae develop.
Turn off the outdoor lights so the little sweeties can locate each other and get it on.
Avoid chemical pesticides. They’ll eventually kill you, too.
Protect wet areas like streams, ponds and lakes from chemicals, and consider adding water features to your property. If mosquitoes are a problem, look for firefly-safe methods of controlling them, like mosquito larvaecides.
Avoid firefly bits and pieces by not over-mowing your lawn. Give them time to develop and mature between mowings. Also, consider plantings of long grasses, a preferred habitat.
And, please, spread the word. If there’s anything worth getting activist about, it’s these sparkly little beauties! Talk to your neighbors, talk to your city council, make informative fliers, or even host an information-packed firefly party at which everyone requires a light-up hiney (hey, just an idea)!
All that said, my family is considering a move away from firefly-free California (for many reasons) to an area where they still somewhat abound… perhaps central Indiana. And while we may try catching them in jars just for the experience, we will indubitably set them free in hopes they’ll go make more!