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Saturday, 4 April 2015

Wildlife Garden, 'weeds' .....

      Good evening gentle folk of the blogosphere and I hope the weekend has started well for you one and all.

     Tis a funny old thing is perspective, you know the way that you approach life, tasks, work, relationships etc. Take gardening for instance, not too far in the dim and distant past a garden for me was one of straight & raised borders, plants bought only for their looks, everything formal and easy to look after with a decent layer of bark to prevent weeds from taking hold and running riot, ample use of insecticides and herbicides to help keep the unwanted 'weeds' and 'pests' away, a formal pond with ornamental fish and I thought that I was helping nature.....pah!

     But perspectives and viewpoints can be changed with a little education and if the mind is willing to learn. Take the term 'weed' for instance, so many of our native plants are called weeds by many gardeners these days yet what is a weed? To be honest it covers any plant you do not want in your garden and many gardeners take drastic action in the removal and prevention of these 'alien invaders' from their precious patches of perceived heaven. Indeed I was one such person, although never much of a gardener I tried to keep the garden 'just so' and devoid of weeds. I hadn't really thought about how far my view point and my gardening has changed until reading a post from a fellow blogger just the other day. The blogger in question is Bug Woman and her wonderfully informative blog is to be found here. Now Bug Woman posts are about the wildlife to be found in London and her scribing is accompanied by some wonderful photography. Now I was reading her most recent post (at the time of writing that is) in which every Wednesday she posts her 'Wednesday Weed' spot and as usual it was beautifully written, very informative and enhanced by her excellent pictures. The post was about a plant that most gardeners would dig up dismissing it as a 'weed', Red Dead-nettle, post to be found here. Yet, by the time I'd finished reading I knew that I had to introduce this annual and its perennial cousin the White Dead-nettle to my small patch, indeed a far cry from my perspective of yore. I commented on the good lady's post about the dilemma she now posed being as I refused to take from the wild unless something is in serious danger of being killed. She replied and mentioned perhaps that the t'internet could be a last resort answer. Last resort for moi? more like first stop off point, within minutes I'd found seeds for both and also had ordered Chicory and Red clover, these two for the developing meadow under my allotment Cider trees.

      As I seem to mention on all my posts about the wildlife garden it is a compromise and having to serve several purposes certain plants have to excluded or controlled, such as planting a solitary Nettle that had attempted a one plant invasion in a large container instead of allowing it to run riot or destroying it. So my garden will never be truly wild due to the compromises but it certainly is a million miles away from the way that I used to garden, I've allowed Dandelions to gain a small foothold but compromise dictates that they will be deadheaded before seeds are set, Welsh poppy is in abundance around the boundaries and again they will be deadheaded although some seeds will be allowed to form and then spread around here and on the allotment, Lady's mantle has found her place, Wood Sorrel was in evidence before we even took over the garden, Lily of the valley was planted last year although it hasn't shown itself yet, what I think is Herb-Robert seems to be in residence, Perennial cornflower has been welcomed, Common Lungwort has just started to flower, Common violet is peeping from under the Honeysuckle, Common Solomon's-seal arrived last year from mother and there is a solitary piece of Common Duckweed in the pond though how on earth that arrived I have no idea. Many of these plants would have been uprooted and binned without me missing a beat but now? No these plants are welcome additions and bring far more to a garden than I once believed possible. 

     Yes compromise dictates that these plants will be managed but there is no such thing anymore as a weed as far as I am concerned, just beautiful plants to be admired and that repay me by adding diversity and providing sanctuary for all manner of wee beasties. There is still a long way to go for me and this garden, What was the small lawn, now a mudbath after a Winter of been trodden, dug and excreted upon by the terrible twosome, will this year have an fishpond in its place, but with Rudd not Goldfish or Orf in residence and will be surrounded by a mixture of native and cultivated plants. The lean-to that is planned will definitely have a living roof of mosses and other moisture loving plants and will be served by an automatic watering system from a reservoir of rainwater that I'm working on and hopefully the garden wall that borders one full side of the garden will be a 'living wall' this time next year. I have a tremendous amount to learn about wildlife gardening and achieving a compromise that achieves a good balance but everyday spent in the garden I see something new from a unidentified plant to the change in the frogspawn and everyday these small things inspire me to do my very best and hopefully I will be able to inspire others to open their eyes, minds and hearts and begin changing their perspective and their gardens for the benefit of wildlife. Just one last thought for you, have you ever considered how much land our gardens would cover if added together? It would make a sizable nature reserve would it not?

Til the next time, take care my friends,

John

21 comments:

  1. Trendy people would refer to me as an ORGANIC gardener, but I just think of myself as doing things correctly. I have weeds and bugs which I try to control, but they will always be there because I refuse to attack them with chemicals. My 2015 growing campaign will begin quite soon, when the soil warms and risk of frosts are over. Life without growing my own fruit and veg' wouldn't be worth living.

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    1. There is most definitely something special about growing and consuming your own fruit and veg' Cro, hopefully as I become more practiced the more I will grow. Well done upon the 'no chemical' approach my good man.

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  2. i am organic and the first year I changed over was horrendous, second year only slight better. Third better still and by the fourth superb. Yes I do crush greenfly and other unwanted bugs but only if their enemies are not yet around. Yes I mulch with bark but usually just the soft fruit area. Working with nature is great, generally less hassle. I love dead nettles and we do have a couple of nettles tucked somewhere. If they spread too much they get pulled up, leaving just enough to keep going. We started planting corncockles last year so hopefully, they will spread And Welsh poppy abounds although it too is removed if too bossy. Keep up the good work.

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    1. I had to look up Corncockle DC but recognised it as soon as the images flashed up on Google, a nice addition and a very good choice for Bees etc. I'm learning something new everyday and yes working with nature is great and I love every moment.

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  3. There's no need for me to import weeds to my place as they seem to like to visit anyway. I pull mine up to try to get rid of them but I stand no chance! If you're ever short of any let me know and I'll send you some!

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    1. Well thank for the offer Kev, you never know if gardening for wildlife really catches on you may well have the beginnings of a cottage industry.

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  4. Very interesting post, I have just spent ages weeding. Makes you think!

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    1. It has made me think quite hard my good man, yes the wildlife garden is a compromise and has to be managed but introducing more native plants in our gardens will help build up the connections that wildlife require to hold on in this country.

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  5. Have fun with your Herb Robert! It gets everywhere here and can be a right pain when it hops up into my pots of Hostas. When I was little, a loooooonnnnng time ago red and white dead nettle were everywhere, certainly not as common now. We have a lovely spread of purple and white violets this year and the primroses are all over the place. We are not as organic as I would like to be but we are careful.

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    1. Yes indeed, already I'm under no illusion that in the small space that I have Herb-robert requires 'management' but it arrived naturally and is more than welcome. I'm not saying that 'organic' is the way to go as I certainly do not know enough about gardening to have an informed discussion, all I would ask that people consider wildlife whilst gardening and do a little to help. The Primulas planted last year are making a fine show and hopefully as I learn more I'll have flowers through the season available to encourage insects to the garden.

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  6. I'll be amazed if you don't find red dead nettle popping up in your garden naturally, John. Like many wild plants, its seeds sit in the seed bank for years and when conditions are right up it comes.

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    1. To be honest CT it's not a plant that a remember seeing around the local area but then again I'm only really learning to identify different native species so I could have easily overlooked it. Also the small garden we have inherited with this Victorian house has been 'chemically' abused over the years and only since we took it over do I feel that nature has a chance of returning. So although there are some species here the diversity needs some investment I feel.

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  7. Dead Nettle is a pretty important early blooming plant for bees around here. It doesn't produce much but at the time it does bloom it's about the only game in town for a couple of weeks. Pretty much every plant out there serves some beneficial purpose.

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    1. A very good point PP, every piece of Flora & Fauna served a purpose until we started interfering.

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  8. fabulous post! i, too, am a Champion of Weeds -- viewing them simply as plants in my garden that *i* didn't put there. so many of them are absolutely beautiful -- including dandelions, in my humble opinion.:)

    great link to Bug Woman - what a brilliant blog! -- i recognize the red dead-nettle, we have a goodly amount of hereabouts -- [i spent much of last summer with my wildflower field guide in my back pocket!] -- although i know it as motherwort -- which may be the same thing, and makes sense given her info on its medicinal uses -- now i'm going to have to consult the Oracle of Google to see if it is indeed the same thing....

    have you read The One-Straw Revolution? if not, i think it's something you might like...as far as "natural" gardening goes. it was written to address agricultural practices but one can easily extrapolate and apply it to any type of gardening. how to "effortlessly" control/manage the plants you do and don't want....really good stuff.

    :D

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  9. ah! and the Oracle reveals...not the same thing and when i look at the pics closely i can see how they differ. happily, we seem to have both here in our patch....:)

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    1. Thank you Mel, you are to kind. Bug Woman's blog is exceptional is it not? I am learning so much from her scribings. I'll take your advice and see if I cannot get myself a copy of 'The One-Straw Revolution', it sounds interesting so thanks for the heads up Mel.

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    2. The One Straw Revolution (Masanoubu Fukuoka) is well worth your time. He writes delightfully and very peacefully. I especially like his philosophy that his organic fruit should cost no more than the going price for other fruit so that everyone could enjoy it.

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    3. i absolutely agree!! and it's why i sell my "free-range, pastured" eggs for less than half of what they charge for them in the supermarket -- i'd rather see people eating "happy" eggs than pretend it's some sort of elitist privilege. :)

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  10. Wonderful Writing, John. I divide weeds into those I can live with in places and those I cannot (where I am actively try to grow vegetables and they are competing). Then, I am ruthless.

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    1. Thank you TB, well after a second endorsement I'm definitely going to have to obtain a copy The One Straw Revolution.

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