I curate a wildlife garden. It’s organic and biodynamic, designed completely with wildlife in mind. It’s a 1/4-acre of delight, with a large wildlife pond, trees, glades, wildflower meadows, fruit trees, and some self-seeding and/or perennial fruit and veg. I garden organically and use biodynamics for extra oomph. The garden is designed for the wildlife and I only grow plants the garden likes to grow that are also good for birds, bees, butterflies and other insects. The garden isn’t tidy, it’s lived in and much loved. You’ll find buttercups, nettles (just enough for the butterflies!), the occasional hogweed, butterbur and other stuff that would be chucked out of a Yellow Book garden LOL. Neither of us (my gardener, Kevin Ashby, and me) are the sort of folk who spout Latin plant names at the drop of a hat, so don’t be surprised if we call plants Thingumajiggia damedifino but we may know their country names!
These pages will be about the projects the garden has asked us to get on with and bring to life – we have several!
- Hedge in the Dark Glade: it really needs a big haircut :-). The may-thorn trees are completely overshadowing the other hedge plants we put in last autumn like the golden privet, roses, holly and some herbaceous plants like comfrey and salvias. This will be a good day’s work and provide us with a load of stuff for the Samhain bonfire.
- Shrubbery: it got its name from “the Knights who say Ni!” in Monty Python & the Holy Grail, LOL – well doesn’t everyone do this? It has several very nice shrubs but the whole jolly boiling has gone nuts! this can be a problem with doing biodynamics :-), plants like to grow and BD really does give them a boost. So more big haircuts needed. Again, there’s no light and air for the understory plants and this, in its turn, doesn’t help the insects and little beasties who want to live there. they all help make the garden a complete ecosystem so we need to lend a hand here.
- The Ummm-errr-Wottisit Garden :-). This patch at the western end of the garden is lovely, it’s had several incarnations in the past 20 years and is currently rebirthing itself into something new. I’m not sure yet that I’ve got what it wants so we’re spending time together – what i call sitting-with – so it can show/tell me what it wants and what I’m to do next.
- The Heap! This part, poor thing, is pretty well what it says. Over the past few years it’s been where we’ve dumped things for later, when we get around to it – of course, Round Tooits are as usual in very short supply, so nowt ain’t been done there for a good while. It’s actually begun crying to me when I go there and I really find that upsetting so I expect it may get hoiked up the list to get done sooner. Of course, as soon as I said that all the others set up a moan. Sigh! Gardens! Kev and I promise we’ll get you all done …
- Willow Space: this came about only a couple of weeks ago when Kev and I decided we really had to do something about the south hedge behind the pond – unless you had a machete it really wasn’t safe to try and get through what had once been a path down there! It was a day of felling billions of elder trees,LOL, clearing off undergrowth and what started out as pruning the Barby – Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea ‘Harlequin’, she says, showing off. It’s a beautiful plant but … this one was taking up 20×20 feet of space! We started in on it to find the 2-3 inch thick trunks had no leaves on them for the first four feet. Decision time! I told Kev to take her right down to 6 inches. I did ask her first and she said “Bring it on” as she was covered in fungal growth fro not enough air or light, pour soul. She’ll be back up next year and in a couple more be a proper sized bush. She’s given me instructions to make sure she stays that way – yes Ma’am !!! We’re going to put in a load of bulbs this autumn and get it to grass over, we really need the “white space”, the contrast, and the different habitat.
So that’s 5 projects we have in hand, they’ll certainly keep us busy :-). Of course we also have all the usual maintenance … or do we? Curating a wildlife garden does require you to learn to sit on your hands! You have to learn the “hands off” approach. As most of us are not trained in that, rather we’re told to get in there and try to fix every damned thing, there’s a good wallop of un-learning to do! Kev and I have got quite good at it over the years. Mother Nature has been doing her stuff with the Earth for some 4.7 billion years and we’re certainly not so arrogant we think she makes mistakes! We realise that if we don’t understand some facet of nature and plants that’s about us, not Nature!
And that brings me to Project #6, the Experimental Bed … two and a half years ago we decided to leave what had been a large veg bed completely alone, to see what it did, what it liked to grow of itself. We’ve been amazed this summer. It’s a riot of herbs and wildflowers, hardly any nettles, only one butterbur, and it’s grown me evening primroses that I’ve been trying (unsuccessfully) to get established for years. Woohoo! So, when the plants die down this winter we’re going to take a very careful look in there and see what there is. I’ve a mugwort plant that is currently sharing with the strawberries – neither plant is too keen on the arrangement 🙂 – so I hope it will choose to do well in the Experimental Bed.
Anyways ,,, enough for now. I’ll tweet every time we have some more news on the garden projects so watch this space 🙂