Be inspired by a new year
As 2021 draws to a close it Is the perfect time to reflect on your garden. What grew well? What could be changed? Are you inspired to start a new garden project? It is also a great time to look at how we garden. What will be your New Year Resolutions for 2022? Here are some ideas.
Spend more time gardening
Make a promise to yourself to spend more time in your garden. It is surprising how busy modern life can be and how difficult it is to shoehorn in things we enjoy most. Gardening is immensely beneficial for our mental wellbeing and for physically keeping in shape. No need for a gym membership, just get out in the garden and feel energised.
Stop using pesticides. Protect pollinators and wildlife by trying organic methods of pest control like companion planting or nematodes. Make homemade organic fertilisers like nettle or comfrey tea. Make your own compost. Get a wormery, Go no dig. Keep your precious soil structure intact and let the worms do the work for you. Your garden will become a healthy, balanced, biodiverse eco system. Let nature do the work organically!
Globally peatlands hold twice as much carbon as forests so it is vital we protect them to combat climate change. Swap peat compost for peat-free alternatives or make your own; such a simple way to put garden and kitchen waste to good use and save you money. Rake up fallen leaves to make nutritious leaf mould. Purchase plants grown in peat-free soil or buy bare root.
Water is precious, particularly during dry summers. Install a water butt or two to collect rainwater. Roofs are funnels for free water that would otherwise be wasted. Water plant’s roots not their foliage; efficient watering prevents surface water evaporation. Install an irrigation system like a seep hose or wicking which waters from the bottom up. Retain moisture in borders, add organic matter and mulch. Grow drought tolerant plants like lavender, nepeta and echinacea.
Reduce reuse recycle
Use less plastic. Reuse what you already own. Rather than banishing materials to landfill see what you can repurpose. A chest of drawers, colander or old bath tub make funky planters. If it can hold soil and drain, plant it up! Fruit punnets and yoghurt pots make great recycled seed trays. Sow sweet peas in toilet roll tubes or make newspaper pots and plant directly in the ground to avoid root disturbance. Reuse old envelops to collect seed.
Mow your lawn less
Be inspired by Plantlife’s No Mow May, Let it Bloom June and Knee High July. Want less maintenance and more nectar-rich flowers? Mow less frequently. For ultimate results try a ‘Mohican!’ Mow part of your lawn every four weeks for low-growing flowers with high nectar yields like bird’s-foot trefoil and daisies, leave another area to grow long so slower flowering taller plants like ox-eye daisies can mature. Local pollinators will make a bee-line for this habitat haven!
Encourage wildlife into your garden
Plant pollinator friendly plants to help insects all year round. Grow mahonia and ivy in winter, pussy willow in spring, lavender in summer and honeysuckle and abelia in autumn. Don’t be too tidy, leave some garden areas ‘wild.’ A patch of common nettles can provide food and habitat for over 40 insect species. Build a log pile for mini beasts, put a hedgehog highway in your fence and feed the birds.
Create a pond
The greatest way to attract wildlife to your garden is with a pond. Large or small, build it and they will come. Choose a sunny spot and get creative. Dig a pond in the ground or use any water-tight container. Ponds provide habitat for diverse eco systems from pond skaters and water boatman to dragonflies, hedgehogs and toads. You will be surprised what an impact a pond has.
Plant a tree
Trees are essential to life as we know it; these carbon sequesters help combat climate change. They clean air of pollutants and give us free oxygen! Trees act as windbreaks, reduce noise pollution, soil erosion, are natural air conditioners that keep us cool and help reduce flooding. Trees give summer shade, winter structure and a home to biodiverse wildlife and fungi. Ornamental or fruit, trees provide crops for birds, insects and us. Planting a tree is planting the future.
Take time to sit and enjoy your garden!
Wrap up warm, grab a mug of tea, a large slice of cake and just sit in your garden, observe and hatch new plans. Look at what you have achieved this year in the garden. Take stock. Take time to watch the birds forage for food, study the changing leaf colours and smell the exquisite scent of soil. Contemplate all the new possibilities for 2022.
All photos © Debi Holland 2021