Elin’s Downtown Wilderness – FineGardening

We’re off to East Tennessee today to visit with Elin Johnson:

There is a gate in the fence in the back yard of my condo in downtown Farragut, Tennessee. Walk through it and you can enter a wilderness you might not expect to find there. There is a pathway behind the fence belonging to the homeowners association, and then the land falls off sharply to a little stream that flows below.

When I moved here five years ago, the stream was small, but one summer it began to get larger. It’s banks finally reached the size of a pond. Someone told me beavers had built a dam and the water was backing up, but I didn’t believe them.

But then I noticed something nearby that convinced me. Only beavers could have done this. This place is proof of the resiliency of nature, and I’d like to show you more things I have experienced here that convinces me of this. My condo is so close to the interstate highway that I can hear the traffic, and I can see a major highway when I walk my dog. I can see the signs of a big hotel and the Cracker Barrel from here. But wildlife is not only occasional here but lives here in abundance.

In the summer of 2023, my friend Larry built a flowerbed for me along the bank down to the water. I planted flowers for the bees and butterflies that live there. But some things I planted will not return this year—bunnies and deer enjoyed eating them. (Apparently they don’t like marigolds.) But I’ll try again.

Many dragonflies fly about. Butterflies are also numerous here. One fall a couple of years ago there were a lot of monarch butterflies that were flying south. I counted 13 one afternoon. (I need to plant some milkweed down by the creek.) This black swallowtail is perched on a Verbena bonariensis (Zone 7 – 9 or as annual) flower.

Birds are numerous—many types. I have thought for many years that I-75 is a north-to-south migratory route for the birds, and living this close has confirmed that. This winter I have observed many warblers that have come to Tennessee for the winter. And other birds can be observed in spring and fall making their way back and forth. There are bluebirds, towhees, cardinals, chickadees and Carolina wrens that live here year-round. And then there are the hawks who take advantage of this abundance. They hunt regularly in the wilderness.

Spring is nearly here!

It’s March now, and the progression is beginning.

Life in my downtown wilderness is beginning to flourish! Wonder what my beautiful natural world will display this year? Every year brings more surprises.


Have a garden you’d like to share?

Have photos to share? We’d love to see your garden, a particular collection of plants you love, or a wonderful garden you had the chance to visit!

To submit, send 5-10 photos to [email protected] along with some information about the plants in the pictures and where you took the photos. We’d love to hear where you are located, how long you’ve been gardening, successes you are proud of, failures you learned from, hopes for the future, favorite plants, or funny stories from your garden.

Have a mobile phone? Tag your photos on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with #FineGardening!

Do you receive the GPOD by email yet? Sign up here.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

Shopping cart