I have an odd love-hate relationship with mushrooms. Strange, I know... but it is true. I've gone through periods of time where I was a woman obsessed, finding myself at either end of a mushroom relationship spectrum.
The love part: I can't help but appreciate the fabulous fungi that pop up in the craziest of places, adorned with unexpected colors and shaped in bizarre ways. They amaze me. I find myself surrounded by a surprising assortment on hikes through the woods in late summer. It is a feast for the eyes.
A feast on many levels, of course, because mushrooms are also quite delicious. I remember eating my first morel at a French restaurant in Montreal, nearly swooning at the taste. I walked out the door forever changed. I will now eat anything that has a mushroom accompaniment.
Clearly I love mushrooms. So where does the hate part come from?
Living in the woods and sharing space with animal neighbors, from bears to owls, is something special. I was prepared for the animal surprises when I moved here. But I wasn't prepared to share the area directly around my house with dozens and dozens of mushroom species. I soon learned that any open, damp space would become occupied by a curious assortment of mushroom outcroppings. This became a source of stress. A lot of stress. You see, I share my home with dogs. Our dogs love exploring the yard. They live for it. And every once in a while they find their way to a mushroom snack. That is my nightmare, as certain species are incredibly toxic to dogs. We have had a few trips to the emergency doggie hospital because of those snacks.
I toiled and toiled and tried to eliminate the mushroom colonies in all corners of the yard. I studied and read about how to change the soil. I spent years trying to stop them.
But alas, even years later, they persisted.
The fungi have won. And if I am being honest, it was a fair fight. It is as much their yard as mine.
Over the years, I uncovered the most canine-hospitable areas of the yard, and those are now exclusively available for doggie exploration. As for the mushroom fiefdom; I have decided to embrace what actually wants to grow here.
That is why I am learning about Permaculture.
Permaculture is a type of holistic landscape design that works with nature, instead of against it. In a nutshell: permaculture aims to foster and encourage the plants that are actually meant to be in a particular environment to thrive.
I am a human being inherently terrified of conflict. I shy away from debate and unrest. It just plain makes me uncomfortable. Heck, seeing the activity in my yard through a permaculture lens is right up my alley. It is perfect for my personality type; someone who is often heard exclaiming "dear goodness, can't we all just get along?!?"
So this coming Spring, I hope to take the yard in a new direction. I am anticipating it will be quite the adventure.
I'll keep you posted on the mushroom escapades at Casa McFisch. Let's see where the adventure takes us.
Mushroom Mania has come to Fischer Arts as well!
Newly added, and incredibly detailed, original mushroom engravings and other botanical prints can be found here.