May 09, 2016 at 09:21PM on Facebook

I’m a very indifferent gardener (my favorite kind of gardening involves finding volunteer tree or shrub seedlings in good spots and putting deer fencing around them), so it’s humbling to be asked to give tours of our forest to Penn State landscape architecture students each year. My mother and I tell them what they might not hear otherwise: natural habitats are messy looking. Learn to love messiness and complexity! Snags, rotting logs, greenbriar thickets, pit-mound micro-topography, spunk-water, bole snap, wild grapevines, burrows large and small, seasonal pools, porcupine damage… all things that make a better, weirder, and more aesthetically interesting forest. Channel that desire to improve upon nature into minimizing the damage we’ve wrought, by, for example, removing alien invasives and promoting better deer hunting.