‘Eco-friendly’, ‘wildlife’, and ‘native planting’ are phrases that are being used a great deal at the moment. They all have subtly different meanings but in the end boil down to gardening in tune with nature to achieve a beautiful garden full of wildlife.
|Spring Flowering Hebe.|
The problem most people face is where to begin. Does this mean just giving up completely, letting the lawn grow as it will and forgetting the weeding? Ground elder and nettles are native plants after all so must therefore be ‘a good thing’. Not necessarily.
A much less drastic and easier way is to create a Natural Garden.
|Summer Flowering Nepeta.|
A Natural Garden will have the benefit of strong, thriving plants (that may or may not be native to the UK). It will be as low maintenance as any garden can be. It will be colourful but not full of hysterical, collapsing prima donnas. It will be humming with insects and birds.
When creating a natural garden try to put yourself in the position of the mini-beasts and birds you are trying to attract. Their needs are basically the same as yours and mine.
· A safe home.
|Autumn Flowering Anemone.|
Try to manage the garden with reference to its other occupants. Don’t cut hedges when birds might be nesting, leave flower heads for their seeds and dry stems for bug accommodation and don’t be too tidy.
If at all possible try to incorporate some water into the garden either as a pond or bog garden. Just remember to ensure that there is a way out either up a slope or vertical stem.
When you are designing your planting give some thought to how dependable and your chosen plants are. Try to avoid anything that has to be cosseted and primped in order for it to survive. They do not have to be indigenous or wild but do need to look natural.
|Winter Flowering Mahonia.|
Finally make sure that there is something in flower all year round to feed your neighbours. The RHS have produced a ‘Perfect for Pollinators’ plant list which should help in your selection.