I’m sitting in my garden thrilled at the noticeable increase in bees, gnats, flies and moths compared to the past few years. We live in the city centre of Edinburgh, and are privileged to have a small 15 ft x 15 ft garden, which makes up about one third of our total square footage and is therefore another ‘room’ come summer – those of you who contact me from May-August may well be receiving a reply from this little piece of nature, equipped with laptop hood and sunglasses while I squint at my screen desperate to be outside!
And yet in the 12 yrs we’ve lived here I’ve noticed a decrease in bugs which has really concerned me – when we first moved in I would never leave the door or windows open in the evening as the flat would fill with bugs, but in the past number of years I’ve noticed I’ve not worried about that….
So I have been trying to do my bit by rewilding our garden. I am an ignorant gardener, but love pottering around it, and fortunately I’ve discovered this year that nature is it’s own boss if left alone, so really ignorance doesn’t matter! Here are some things I’ve done differently:
- I usually pull out what I think are weeds in early spring – this year I didn’t, I waited to see what everything was, and lo and behold my garden is full of poppies this year! The bees adore them, and the garden is full of yellow. I have other tall buttercup-like flowers and purple flowers coming through (you see my ignorance? no idea what they are called but they are lovely), some white wildflowers and other shoots that I’m waiting to see what they become, and if they flower or not, and in the meantime at least they nicely cover my otherwise bare earth patches.
- Our community circulated a suggestion of ‘no-mow-May’ – allowing dandelions, and then daisies and buttercups to thrive in lawns, as they are excellent food for bees and beasties, and who needs a neat lawn anyway in truth? So I did one mow beforehand, and another once the dandelions died off before the next crop of wildflowers begins. Now it will be no-mow-June while the daisies and buttercups come through (which is later up here in Edinburgh than they are down south). I’m also just letting the clippings go back into the grass rather than using the bucket on the mower, and the lawn seems more vibrant green which I’m guessing is due to this nourishment.
- I’ve left the grass to grow long and wild in one stretch (along the front of a rockery we have). I normally make it ‘nice and neat’, each year aware that when I trim it loads of woodlice and other beasties go scuttling away having to find somewhere else to live. So this year they can live there happily, and this is where some of the wildflowers are sprouting up of course too.
- We had a ceanothus bush (see, I do know some plant names! OK, I looked it up when it started dying, but even so… ;-)) that suddenly died last year, so I cut it down but piled the logs from it into a protective pile for small mammals and beasties – I’ve no idea who lives there other than spiders whose webs I see, but I did hear scuttling one evening so either a mouse or a lost frog from a neighbour’s small pond was making use of it.
- I’m avoiding pruning unless wild grasses or tree branches are preventing sunlight getting to plants. As a result, one of my bushes (again, no idea what it’s called) is growing little buds that look like they may become flowers – the first time I’ve seen/allowed this in 12 yrs!
- I’ve discovered that all the wildflowers coming through, along with the poppies, are immune to my plethora of slugs and snails! Lo and behold every year I plant flowers in pots, and thus begins a summer-long war-waging with snails and slugs, picking them off each morning only to have them sneak back again overnight, and by the end of summer I’m lucky if there’s anything more than a straggly stalk in any pots! But of course nature knows better than me – the wildflowers that are growing don’t seem to be of any interest to the native slugs and snails and are living in perfect harmony alongside them. There’s a lesson for me to leave nature to it if ever there was one!
So it’s a work in progress, but it’s a delight.
Please share your ideas here for how you support nature, or fight climate change or plastic pollution, whether inside your home or out. I’m a big believer in positive news, so please do share your tips, tricks and successes with us all!