Green Spotlight: The Giggling Gardener

What does everyone love about Bend? The beautiful landscape and abundance of nature, of course! The outdoor playground of Central Oregon is known for its mountain vistas, expansive forests, and crystal clear lakes. Bringing wilderness into city limits is at the core of a local landscaping business owned by Jenny MacAulay – otherwise known as The Giggling Gardener. Her gardening and landscaping business is known for putting the environment first.

Jenny’s been gardening since she was little, working on her mother’s garden with five siblings, but didn’t fully realize her love for nature until she finished guiding in Baja California and Alaska. Wanting to continue working outdoors and helping the environment, she started her business in Bend in 2000 and partnered with John Luciano, who has been designing and building landscapes in Bend since 1995.

“No shortcuts!” she said to me when we discussed the values of her work.

They make sure to keep gardens clean by using vinegar and compost as opposed to pesticides and fertilizer. Keeping the big picture in mind, her gardens are composed of native plants, which keeps the soil happy and conserves water.

Jenny had some interesting information for me in regards to the landscaping business: “Green isn’t always green.”

Confused? She explained that sometimes landscapers and gardeners will use damaging chemicals to keep plants and grass green, and fossil-fuel powered machinery like mowers and blowers to make a garden neat and tidy. It’s no secret that maintaining a lush lawn here in Central Oregon is difficult and can use a lot of resources. So Jenny suggests a shift in perspective on how we manage these green spaces.

For example, we can accept that some weeds here and there is OK, as they are a sign of what’s happening in the soil and this provides helpful information. When you do need to get rid of some unwanted weeds, consider hand picking. In addition, we can consider improving soil with compost and grass-cycling – a practice where you leave mulched clippings on the lawn while mowing, thereby reducing the need for nitrogen fertilizer by 60%! Lastly, there’s usually an opportunity to reduce the size of a lawn, and perhaps building a native garden space instead. These types of landscapes help conserve water, and if designed correctly, can also help attract pollinators, too!  

You can see plenty of the Giggling Gardener’s work around town, and Jenny’s business is a quality example of incorporating green practices into an everyday businesses. From using environmentally-conscious materials to limiting driving, her business sets an example we can all learn from!