About Nadia’s Backyard

Nadia’s backyard is actually our backyard. We both made it the way it is and share it, but this yard is named for her because she is most responsible for taking it out of the realm of the ordinary. This was not always a peaceful process, but we have survived and our backyard is thriving.

I wouldn’t call it a “typical” backyard—-and neither would our neighbors, I’d wager—-but it is not so out of the ordinary that it would raise too many eyebrows in most places. We are not followers of the “golf course” school of yard maintenance.  Instead, we are nudging our yard a little ways back toward a state of wildness, at least to the point possible while complying with “good taste”, local laws and maintaining good relationships with our very nice (really!) neighbors.  So far, we have more than 140 species of native plants in our little lot, including native grasses, to replace the commercial grass that was here when we came.  It is an ongoing experiment in what works (or not).  Complex interactions between flora and fauna and us play out in patches of sun and shade and ever-changing seasons.

Hanging out in our backyard with a camera and binoculars and letting my mind wander is a favorite pastime.  There is more to see than is possible to record, but this site aims to present some of that activity and follow it where it might lead.  It might lead to musings about nature and existence, simple observations about the various visitors that come here, and hopefully helpful information about growing native plants, photography, gardening, cooking, and——well, we’ll see.

I have always believed that all truth is connected.  So let us start here, with one true thing:  Nadia and I live in a house with a backyard.

And in this backyard is—–everything.


Nadia Navarrete-Tindall, a native of El Salvador, is an Associate Professor in Cooperative Extension at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, MO, and is in charge of the University’s Native Plants Program.  She is also pretty much in charge of our backyard in Columbia, MO and runs it for the native plants and associated wildlife: birds, arthropods of all stripes, squirrels, deer, frogs, and toads.  No wolves, grizzlies, or elk.  Yet.

Randy Tindall has a checkered past involving growing up on an Iowa farm, degrees in biology and anthropology, factory work and farm labor, newspaper reporting and photography, Peace Corps in Malawi, and nearly 25 years in the esoteric field of electron microscopy.  Many years ago he spent time backpacking and busing through Mexico, Central America, and Ecuador.  This included a brief stop in El Salvador.  One thing led to another.

Randy can be reached at n7919g@gmail.com.

Monarch Butterfly

Monarch Butterfly in Our Backyard


8 Responses to About Nadia’s Backyard

  1. paula diaz says:

    hello there! dr. nadia gave a presentation to a master gardeners group about a year ago and that was where i first encountered her enthusiasm…i am a strong proponent of native plants. there are 2 totally unrelated things about which i’d like to pick your brain(s) please…
    1. my sister lives in san salvador and we are wondering if there is any good resource for native salvadoran plants she could/should use in her landscaping…any ideas?
    2. i live in a beigeorhood in suburbia. was wondering if you know of anyone trying to convert to buffalo grass simply by overseeding year after year with buffalo in an attempt for the buffalo to overtake the fescue mix. i hate the idea of using herbicides to kill off everything to start from a blank slate. i don’t see how that much herbicide can ever be good.
    anyway, thanks for the great work you and nadia are accomplishing and fro any info you may be able to share on these two topics.

  2. Shirley says:

    Hello there! Found your GREAT site while trying to get info on pokeweed. I have started several from seed this year (in pots) and they are now approx. 6-7 inches tall. If you could please advise me on planting them…this fall? or should it wait till next spring? ( I live in central NY, Zone 4) Is caution needed when handling the young plants due to their toxins? Thank you and any tips/info will be greatly appreciated. P.S. MOST importantly, we have wildlife and lots of deer that traverse the property. I would not want to risk poisoning any critter by having this plant around. 🙁

    • Randy Tindall says:

      Hi Shirley,

      All the pokeweeds we have seem to grow along boundaries—fences, next to the house, etc. They never seem to grow out in the middle of an open space, so I would start with that. Put them next to something. Other than that, they seem to tolerate all kinds of soils and thrive through drought and other rough spots. It’s pretty hard to fail with them.

      Any toxins in the plants are only dangerous if ingested. People should avoid the berries, older leaves, and, especially, the roots. Touching them shouldn’t be a problem.

      Nadia tells me that seedlings from pots can be planted in the fall, unless you’re far north. Then wait until spring.

      As far as wildlife is concerned, remember that the wildlife and pokeweed have been coexisting for, well, forever. You will not poison deer or other critters with these plants. They already know all about them.

      Thanks for reading!

  3. Joanne says:

    I have a poke weed plant that I have left alone to grow at the edge of woods in my backyard. What is the benefit of the plant? Is it true that bluebirds like the berries? If not, why keep,it, other than it is an attractive plant.

    • Randy Tindall says:

      Hi Joanne. Here is the link to our article on pokeweed: http://nadiasyard.com/our-native-plants/american-pokeweed/. In summary, the berries are eaten by many birds (not sure about bluebirds, but….) and the young leaves are edible after boiling in a couple changes of water. Pokeweed has a long, proud history as an edible native green. We keep pokeweed around for the benefits to wildlife, including pollinating insects, and we eat it on occasion, but be aware that it is a bit aggressive and spreads by rhizome. The roots are toxic, so never try to eat them. We think it’s a very worthwhile plant, but if you have young children, make sure they don’t snack on the yummy-looking berries, which can also be toxic.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. Pam says:

    Hi, Randy and Nadia! A neighbor just told me a poke berrry story about his coworker (city slicker!) who recently moved to our beautiful but wild part of southern Indiana. This coworker related that he and his wife had been busy canning and freezing blueberries that grew on their farm. The freezer was half-full and their shelves were filling fast. My neighbor told him that he wasn’t aware of any farm that grew blueberries in our area, and he’d love to come see them. This coworker said that he and his wife got stomach aches after eating the blueberries, and so did the neighbor who was the recipient of canned berries. You guessed it! They were canning/freezing poke berries! 🙂

    • Randy Tindall says:

      Oops! Great story and a good cautionary tale. We cooked and ate pokeweed last summer and my stomach didn’t feel so great. I was informed that I should have boiled the leaves in two changes of water before eating them. I actually wrote this in my article, but didn’t do it. Dumb me.

      Thanks for the story!

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