Garry Oak gardens aflame

Maleea Acker’s neighbours have finally started talking to her again since she turned her backyard into her own authentic Garry Oak ecosystem

Maleea Acker has published a book about her experience in creating her own Garry Oak ecosystem in her own backyard.

Maleea Acker has published a book about her experience in creating her own Garry Oak ecosystem in her own backyard.

Maleea Acker’s neighbours have finally started talking to her again — at least a little since the local nature-scaper turned her backyard into her own authentic Garry Oak ecosystem.

Now, Acker has penned her long-anticipated non-fiction book about the experience, Gardens Aflame: Garry Oak Meadows of BC’s South Coast, set to launch this Fri., Nov. 16, 7pm at the Moka House (#103-1633 Hillside). With a piquant mix of philosophy, science, aesthetics, poetics, cultural geography and politics, Acker’s book examines Victoria’s relationship with its beloved Garry Oak, studies how humans have positively affected nature and looks at “how we, too, might live in the world as if it were home.”

“In my research for this book, I discovered there are so many instances where humans have played a positive role in affecting our environment and making the world a better place, which is an idea I have struggled with,” says Acker. “I was able to really focus on why we care about the things we do, and what it means to co-exist.”

Speaking of that coexistence, when Monday first reported on Acker’s development of her backyard ecosystem in July 2011, some neighbours thought it was simply weeds, and even called municipal authorities to bully her yard back into suburban standards. Yet the City of Saanich agreed to support Acker in her efforts, so long as she agreed to mow a one-foot strip off the boulevard. Meanwhile, her neighbours put up a fence, which Acker says acts as a delightful framing backdrop to some of her more colourful native flowers.

“It’s been a really incredible experience, and I think a case of just many people not understanding what I am trying to do,” she says. “We still need a lot more understanding out there about the value of nature scaping, and supporting a native ecosystem.”

Acker has since been appointed to the Garry Oak Ecosystem Recovery Team’s board of directors, and hopes to one day complete a doctorate on the subject. On Friday, Acker will read from her new book, along with special guest and nature poet Tim Lilburn. M

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