As I sit writing this, I am mindful that Ireland is about to be blasted with the worst storm in over 50 years. Ophelia is coming. Climate change is happening. Are we ready for this?
I look out of my window in Warrington, England. Saharan dust has given the sun an odd orange hue.
Everyone is waiting.
Ophelia “Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce than with honesty?” (from Hamlet, William Shakespeare).
Let’s be honest. Change is here and we need to keep up. The weather is becoming more extreme. We’re battening down over here today, whilst wildfires are claiming lives in California, floods affect 41 million people in South Asia and who knows what will happen next?
We are living with the extremes caused by climate change.
A new visitor to the north, the Hornet Hoverfly, appeared in our garden this month. I wonder what will come next year?
The garden is refusing to go to sleep. New salad is bursting through, peas are thriving and garlic is on the way too. The spring bulbs have woken and I no longer trust what the back of the seed packets tell me to do.
It’s time to rethink. Time to future-proof our space, to adapt and to mitigate and that can start with us, in our gardens.
We are moving away from a time where aesthetics rule alone with no consideration of consequence. Is beauty without intelligence enough? Is there more we can do to maximise our space and what it can offer? Our public spaces, community areas and gardens are going to have to work harder than ever.
The solutions are within easy reach.
Ecological gardening is the future. The Royal Horticultural Society’s campaign, Greening Grey Britain speaks of the crucial role urban and suburban gardens have in protecting us against flooding, extremes of temperature, wildlife support and well-being. It’s an exciting opportunity where we can marry art with science to produce gardens that function well and satisfy our senses.
We can select for drought-resistant and flood-resistant species and for those with an ability to soak up pollution. We can plant trees and shrubs that contribute to the health of our soil and are productive with flowers and fruit. We can sustain wildlife and avoid disease by incorporating diversity in our planting.
We can maximise our use of space with cleverly creative garden design – use roofs, use walls, use pockets and patches.
Plants and their placement hold the key to mitigating some of our biggest environmental threats today. There is an abundance of choice and well-researched articles on what goes where, and why. The charity, Plants For A Future, is
researching and providing information on ecologically sustainable horticulture, as an integral part of designs involving high species diversity and permaculture principles. The ambition is to have no negative impact on the planet while still having the potential to achieve high productivity. We can do this with intelligent, ecological design and we don’t have to compromise on beauty.
Add some edibles into the mix and the garden takes on a whole new role.
Plus, there’s a whole stack of evidence out there to support the fact that immersing ourselves in nature and greenery is good for our heads.
It’s a win, win, win!
Grow plants and grow them everywhere.