The Evelyn Jackson Wild Life Garden provides the water, native plants, shelter, and safe space for wildlife to thrive. It’s a place for all beings to enjoy, including birds, frogs, lizards, and insects. It’s named for Evelyn Jackson, my beloved aunt whose bequest made the water feature and rain garden possible.

The garden is in the suburbs of Raleigh, North Carolina, surrounding a mid-century modern house built in 1962. I’ve been gardening here since 1988. The garden still shows signs of my earlier focus on strange, exotic plants.

Why Native Plants and Wildlife?

blue dasher dragonfly
Blue Dasher dragonfly on a Pickerel Weed leaf

I’m deeply concerned about the loss of biodiversity worldwide. Reading Doug Tallamy’s book Bringing Nature Home showed me that I could help heal the planet by changing how I gardened.

In the past, we have asked one thing of our gardens: that they be pretty. Now they have to support life, sequester carbon, feed pollinators, and manage water.

Doug Tallamy

Now, my garden is prettier and more bizarre than ever as wildlife add to the glory of plants. The camera I bought to see the visiting birds better revealed the world of insects. I’m now at least as much of a bug watcher as I am a bird watcher. I choose plants based on their appearance, fragrance, and who they will welcome.

Check out the video showing how the backyard was transformed from a weedy slope to a wildlife paradise.

Views from Above

Satellite View

The satellite view below shows how shady the garden is when the trees are leafed out. The wild cherry, green ash, dogwood, redbud, and some smaller trees drop their leaves for the winter. The pines, Leyland cypresses, and magnolias are evergreen. Note that we have a white roof that reflects 60% to 90% of sunlight. The shady trees and cool roof help keep the house comfortable in the summer and save on power bills.

Topology Map

The topology map below shows an eighteen-foot drop from the mailbox in the south-east corner to the occasional stream that runs east through the north-west corner. The big numbers on the inside of the boundary line shows the lot dimensions. The property is an odd shape because our street used to be part of a cul-de-sac.