Our garden is a many things to many people. A sanctuary, an extra chore, a source of pride, an extension of our living space.
Yesterday I was watching TV and two adverts caught my eye: the first was an image of a dandelion being killed by someone spraying a product onto it, and the second was someone watering a different product on their flowers to make them grow.
How weird is that? One flower is for eradicating, whilst another is for encouraging. Both by spending our money to make a multinational company even richer.
Nowhere is this more apparent than with our lawns. It seems that we have been trained to only accept a short cut monoculture where no daisy, meadow speedwell, or, dare I even say the names, dandelion and moss be tolerated.
Next time you are in a garden centre or DIY shop take a minute to count how many products, all in multicoloured plastic containers, there are for sale to enhance or else to kill various plants. Inevitably the ones to kill are the free plants and wildflowers, and the ones to nurture are the cultivated flowers that you spent your money on.
The photo with this post is of a rose in my garden. I have never spent a penny on any chemicals for the garden. Not to kill ‘pests’ or diseases, or to promote plant growth. It is a riot of colour and healthy plants (wild and shop bought) who all flourish on the existing sandy soil plus some home-made garden compost which I add on a rather ad hoc basis.
It is so much more relaxing to let plants do their own thing….clover in the grass, wild geraniums and self-seeded Alchemilla in the shady areas (yes, beautiful mossy patches too).
Maybe try a little scruffy or neglected patch at first – watch with amazement as new (free!) plants arrive every season, and bees, hover flies, ladybirds, grasshoppers, butterflies, and birds come into your garden. Feel a little smug about all the money that you have not spent on chemicals, and relax about being on weed patrol. You decide which plants you like most, and which ones are taking over and need controlling (by hand, not by chemicals).
It’s hard to do at first because we were brought up to control and dominate nature, but times have changed and nature needs our help. We have also been taught that we need all sorts of damaging and expensive chemicals to grow a garden. We really don’t!
Our gardens are now essential sanctuaries for pollinators such as bees and butterflies (and caterpillars!), birds, maybe even hedgehogs. Let’s all find a little space for nature to thrive in our gardens so that our children might grow up hearing the buzz of bees and seeing a rainbow of butterflies outside the Butterfly House in the zoo.