The Rebel Botanist Gang (a/k/a the RBG), under the auspices of Bound by Beauty, is developing a program called Swale Safaris to engage and teach young adults, children, and adults about the beauty and importance of the Nature that is right under our noses, i.e. the “wild plants” we view as weeds in our lawns and swales. Most of us are unaware of the fact that these plants play an important role in our ecosystem: many of them provide nectar for butterflies and other important pollinators; and some are host plants for butterflies, meaning pregnant females lay their eggs on the leaves for their caterpillars to eat. And many of them were around long before we wandered onto the scene. Our first participants were a group of students from the Doctors Charter Key Club and Miami Arts Charter school. These young people will earn community service hours by becoming team leaders who can guide others on Swale Safaris.
The first thing we handed the students were magnifying glasses to remind them of the importance of examining closely the natural world that surrounds us, and upon which we depend for our own survival. We put the magnifying glasses to good use during a tour of the wildlife garden, prior to heading out on safari.
After we finished the garden tour, we ventured out into the swale, armed with knowledge and magnifying glasses!
By opening our eyes and minds to the wonderful roles these plants have in nature, we hope to open our hearts to the fact that we need to coexist with them rather than drenching our swales with herbicides. After all, when the swale is mowed, you can hardly tell the difference between sod and wild plants. Why don’t you head out into your own swale to see what you can find?