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Green at Greenwood -- Part 2

Greenwood Cemetery is an historic pioneer cemetery. As such, it is on a moderate maintenance schedule. It is mowed frequently during the season of heavy vegetative growth leading up to and after Memorial Weekend. After the post-holiday cleanup, it is mowed less often, allowing the wildflowers to bloom and feed the bees. The white and yellow of daisies and dandelions complement the blue of bluebells and purple of heals-all. Native species ornament the rural setting, but are kept manageable by the lawn mower. We use no pesticides or herbicides, so we don't poison our guests, ourselves or the wild creatures that frequent the cemetery's open spaces. Some species we do attempt to keep at bay. Scotch broom, salal and blackberry vines surround the grounds, and would take over if they could. Keeping them pushed back is an endless battle. Tansy ragwort, a noxious weed, we pull and burn. Although chemicals would make the effort easier, their toxic nature would have a disastrous impact on the biodiversity of the area, whether plant, animal or human. Bug killers and weed killers have a common nature – they are killers, and despite what the manufacturers would like us to believe, their impact is wide ranging. Over a century old, Greenwood Cemetery is a nature lover's delight. This year, I counted at least eight species of bees working the blossoms as I worked the grounds. Birders, butterfly enthusiasts and those who like to watch our furry friends are treated to glimpses of delight. Artists find the somber nature of the stones softened by their setting of wildflowers. Over the years, we have noticed that the cemetery clearing serves as a haven from harm. When a cougar roams the surrounding forest and ravines, the does and fawns bed in the middle portions of the grounds, among the stones. Greenwood is a place of memory, a place to honor those who have left us, yes, but also a place where sadness is mingled with hope at the flash of a butterfly's wing or a hummingbird's throat, by the graceful bounding of a deer or the lilting song of the Swainson''s thrush in the glen. Poison it? I think not.

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