Condon, Marlene A.
Condon, Marlene A.
Home—Crozet, VA. E-mail—[email protected]
Writer, photographer, and speaker.
The Nature-Friendly Garden: Creating a Backyard Haven for Plants, Wildlife, and People, Stackpole Books (Mechanicsburg, PA), 2006.
Field editor, Birds & Blooms. Contributor to periodicals, including American Butterflies, Alabama Wildlife, Living Bird, Audubon Naturalist News, Birder's World, Birdwatcher's Digest, Michigan Forests, New Jersey Audubon, Richmond Times-Dispatch, and the Roanoke Times.
Nature writer, photographer, and public speaker Marlene A. Condon has long shared her passion for the outdoors through her talks at the Shenandoah National Park, contributions to such specialty magazines as Birder's World, Audubon Naturalist News, and Birdwatcher's Digest, and as a field editor of Birds & Blooms magazine. The half-acre backyard of her home in Crozet, Virginia, is a National Wildlife Federation-certified and Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries-certified habitat which has been featured more than once on Virginia public television. In 2006 Condon combined practical information and with her extensive experience creating backyard gardens in the book The Nature-Friendly Garden: Creating a Backyard Haven for Plants, Wildlife, and People. In this title she focuses on working with "Mother Nature," rather than against her, "to help gardeners to enjoy gardening as I have always been able to," as she told Lauren Smith in an interview for the Web site Book Review Time. Condon suggests that many problems will disappear when gardeners encourage natural processes to take place in their landscape. "All life exists in a tenuous balance that demands that no one organism increase in number so that it becomes out of proportion or unduly emphasized at the expense of other organisms," she explains in The Nature-Friendly Garden. Thus by creating a variety of more natural habitats using flowers, native grasses, shrubs, trees, and water features, gardeners can encourage the natural predator-prey relationships that promote a system of checks and balances. For example, moss should be left in the yard to encourage fireflies, which feed on slugs and snails, and gardeners should put up bird houses and bird baths to attract insect-devouring birds. Although many people fear snakes, according to Condon they are the best rodent control mechanism because of their unique anatomy which allows them to follow rodents down into underground burrows. Not only are Condon's gardens more friendly to wildlife, they are more friendly to the gardeners, she says, because maintaining a pristine garden in the image of gardening magazines may require an unreasonable amount of time and effort, making gardening a chore instead of recreation.
A number of reviewers appreciated aspects of The Nature-Friendly Garden. For instance, Library Journal reviewer Deborah A. Broocker pointed out that "many of [Condon's] suggestions are both easy and inexpensive," and that the book as a whole is "easy to understand and well illustrated." In Publishers Weekly, a reviewer gave the work qualified praise, remarking that Condon "is instructive," but also suggesting that "experienced gardeners might find much to disagree with." However, Booklist contributor Carol Haggas described the work as "a thoughtful and passionate treatise on the benefits of gardening … in harmony with nature."
Condon told CA: "The most surprising thing I have learned as a writer is that your work is often misrepresented.
"My hope is that my writing helps people to understand the natural world well enough that they change their attitude towards it. People often believe that ‘Mother Nature’ is out to get them even though nothing could be further from the truth. If people would learn the laws of nature and obey them, folks could avoid the numerous problems they constantly run into. They could live in peaceful agreement with nature instead of constantly battling it."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 15, 2006, Carol Haggas, review of The Nature-Friendly Garden: Creating a Backyard Haven for Plants, Wildlife, and People, p. 29.
E, May-June, 2006, Erin Coughlin, "Greener Gardening," p. 60.
Library Journal, December 1, 2005, Deborah A. Broocker, review of The Nature-Friendly Garden, p. 154.
Publishers Weekly, January 2, 2006, review of The Nature-Friendly Garden, pp. 55-56.
Virginian-Pilot, October 29, 2006, Beth Hester, review of The Nature-Friendly Garden.
Book Review Time,http://www.bookreviewtime.com/ (November 4, 2007), Lauren Smith, review of The Nature-Friendly Garden.
Ralph,http://www.ralphmag.org/ (February 12, 2008), Richard Saturday, review of The Nature-Friendly Garden.