Esperanza loves full blazing sun and requires trimming to keep its shape.

Q: Some days it’s hard to listen to the reports of heatwaves in Alaska and northern Europe, fires in the Amazon or to see land clearing just down the street. As gardeners in the city, what can we do to make a difference?

A: Wherever you live, you can make a difference by growing more plants. Even if you live in an apartment or have limited outdoor space, there are many space-saving plant options to consider.

Cactus and succulents thrive in pots in sun and some in shade on a balcony or even indoors. Herbs and vegetables planted in large containers on a courtyard porch not only add greenery but can also be a great addition to home-cooked meals.

Many smaller-statured shrubs and trees like the Texas native Esperanza (Tecoma stans) will happily grow in patio home-sized gardens. Early spring bloomers like the small arching shrub, Henry’s Garnet Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica), or redbud trees (Cercis canadensis) also provide sustenance for bees.

The larger the garden, the more plants you can plant. If you have a spacious outdoor area, a prairie or wildflower garden can be enjoyed equally by you and nature, including vital pollinators like bees and butterflies. Since you are growing more plants, take the opportunity to share them with others.

The legendary Johnny Appleseed planted apple seeds everywhere he traveled, leaving a legacy of apple orchards throughout the country. Celebrate Johnny Appleseed Day on Thursday, Sept. 26, from 4-6 p.m. at Mercer Botanic Gardens with apple-themed activities and crafts.

Suzzanne Chapman
Author: Suzzanne ChapmanEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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Suzzanne Chapman is the botanical collections curator at Mercer Botanic Gardens and promotes organic gardening, growing native plants, and protecting the environment. Send your questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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