Tips for a biodiverse garden
Now you may well ask why, as removal men, we are writing about gardens? Well the topic comes up rather a lot with our customers, many of them treasure their gardens and in recent years we have moved more and more first time garden owners, especially those coming from London. At Firbanks, there are more than a few keen gardeners so we are always delighted to chat about green fingered matters and in this article thought to talk about biodiversity.
Our take is that for a biodiverse garden, you should think of a multi-layered environment that is abundant in different plant species, animal life, and insect varieties. What it is not, is a monoculture of lawn and single flower-type beds and stone statues. The more the merrier is the attitude in terms of life forms and therefore a biodiverse garden will be hospitable to many different types of creatures. This hospitality will come in the form of suitable areas for them to thrive in, berries and food for them to feed from, and areas of different materials to shelter in and make homes in. Plus, of course, some water to wash, drink or swim in. Why all this hospitality? Well, biodiversity recognizes the interdependent chains of life and the important roles bacteria, funghi, worms, insects, mammals, birds, plants, and trees all play in this process. With declining bird and insect populations it is important to make gardens havens for wildlife and pollinating insects to thrive in.
Increasing biodiversity in your garden
To attract bees and butterflies and other pollinators into your garden, plant a range of flowering plant species that will provide an appealing display of colours, fragrances, and nectars into your garden. Consider having flowers and fruits all through the year, as you will want to have berries on offer for birds in the winter. Plan and research your plants so that there will be continuous flowering throughout the spring and summer months and invest in some winter flowering shrubs to give you some light relief in the darker months. The Royal Horticultural Society has compiled useful lists of plants for pollinators which you can read and download here. In addition to providing sources of nectar, sources of water are also important. Bird baths, ponds, and water features can also encourage pollinators to pass through and enjoy your garden. One fundamental activity to avoid is using pesticides in your garden, and if you do, avoid spraying open flowers. Insecticide is a activity like homicide if you are a pollinating insect.
Encouraging wildlife in your garden
Wildlife appreciates some wild spaces to inhabit. Create a wildflower meadow space with tall grasses, ox-eye daisies, and poppies blowing in the breeze. Creatures can shelter in the long grasses while pollinators will be attracted to the wildflowers. Create a beetle bay or insect hotel from pieces of wood and organic material or surrender an old rotting log pile to your resident insects. Compost heaps provide areas where worms thrive, and shade and shelter from old materials afford newts, lizards, and snakes a place to settle somewhere undisturbed. Bird feeders will keep your feathered friends fed in the winter months and create interesting ways to view and record species in your garden. As your garden becomes populated with all kinds of life forms you will naturally want to tend it and encourage more ways for it and the inhabitants to thrive.
Creating a wildlife-friendly herb garden
Herbs can be an important part of a biodiverse garden. Whether you want to create a designated area for herbs or integrate them into your flower beds they add a lot of character, colour, fragrance and structure to your garden. Their culinary and medicinal benefits also add tremendous value to your biodiverse space, encouraging the humans of the biosphere to take refuge in their curative properties. Here are ten herbs that will grow easily in your garden, adding traditional value. Some, like the rosemary and the mint, you may want to grow in containers as they are likely to spread rapidly. If you don’t have the space to create a dedicated herb spiral, you can always create a zone with containers. Placing your herbs close to the house is handy for when you are cooking or gathering leaves for tea.
- Common mint – Mentha spicata
- Wild marjoram – Origanum vulgare
- Rosemary – Rosmarinus officinalis
- Caraway – Carum carvi
- Hyssop – Hyssopus officinalis
- English lavender – Lavandula angustifolia
- Common sage – Salvia officinalis
- Wild thyme – Thymus polytrichus
- Fennel – Foeniculum vulgare
- Chives – Allium schoenoprasum
Composting for biodiversity
A garden is an ecosystem, and fundamentally biodiversity starts in the soil. Soil is a living organism that is adversely affected by fertilizers and pesticides. Life above ground is dependent on symbiosis in the soil between funghi, bacteria, and nematodes, and the deep interplay between all these underworld forces. Organic matter in soil improves the quality of life of the soil, so adding compost to soil is one of the easiest ways to enrich the life force of soil. Creating your own compost in your garden allows you to work with the life cycle of growth and decay within your own ecosystem. As organic matter aerates the soil there is less need to manually turn the soil over, and if you avoid compacting the soil it can thrive on its own. Separating organic matter from the kitchen for composting is good practice and reduces the amount of waste that goes into landfill. If you need more convincing with a step-by-step guide, over to Monty Don at Gardener’s World!