Staff Spotlight: Cheryl Laubacher
Published by Carrie O'Donnell
on Apr 14, 2022
This National Gardening Day, we wanted to highlight one pair of the Green Thumbs in our staff. Cheryl Laubacher is not only one of our Student Success Coaches she is an avid and award-winning gardener. She took some time out to share how she got her love of gardening and advice for life that goes beyond soil.
What/who got you into gardening?
My grandmother was a farmer and gardener. She liked novelty plants, experiments, and homeopathic remedies. She was my earliest garden influencer. She passed long ago, but I still have some of her plants (or their offspring), which must be at least 50 years old.
When most people think of gardening, they think of aesthetics or edibles. I dabble in both, but I spend most of my resources to restoring the native and natural flora of our property. This passion is fueled by the teachings of Doug Tallamy who said, “It is increasingly clear that much of our wildlife will not be able to survive unless food, shelter, and nest sites can be found in suburban habitats. And because it is we who decide which plants will grow in our gardens, the responsibility for our nation’s biodiversity lies largely with us. Which animals will make it, and which will not? We help make this decision every time we plant or remove something from out yards.” We do not use chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides; we keep reducing our lawn; we plant at least 10 new native trees a year; when we rake, we put the leaves in the woods. These are a few examples of our restoration efforts.
What is your favorite plant or flower?
My favorite flowers and plants are the ones that provide food and shelter for the wildlife. Asking me to pick a favorite is like asking a mother to choose their favorite child. Each one is special for various reasons. I like perennial verbena (see photo with monarch), coneflowers (all colors) and bee balm (smells delicious) because the moths, butterflies and hummingbirds love them, they are easy to grow, tolerate summer drought and readily self-seed year after year.
Are you currently doing anything to your garden? Planting anything new?
Spring is exciting and brings so much hope. I’m excited to greet ‘old friends’ and see what is new in the garden. I bought many native flower seeds that I planted last fall and I can’t wait to see what comes up. I also built a raised bed last fall for my strawberries and hope for a good harvest in June. Another fun thing I did was plant some seed bombs. Google it, it’s an inexpensive fun activity.
What is the best gardening advice that you’ve received?
I encourage everyone to reflect on William Kent’s words:
“Garden as though you will live forever.”
Happy National Gardening Day!