Gardening for nature in 2020 (Covid 19)

It is Monday 13 April 2020. In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, the UK has been in lockdown for around three weeks. For many residents throughout the country, their gardens will be bringing some relief from the crisis, providing things to do and a place to relax and explore as Spring brings new life.

But our garden centres and nurseries are closed, we cannot trade plants with our relatives. The recycling centres are also closed to the public. Our garden waste bins will only take so much.

If possible, we may need to be a little more creative in how we garden – re-using and recycling our waste and other items in the garden. Who knows, it may even become the norm for those yet to try it. We can look at creating things for the garden to help us pass the time while we remain in isolation.

We would like to share some of the things we have been doing, so as to inspire and empower others to do the same. Without going into detail, these are just some pointers about things you might be able to try.

All of the examples shown below are based on the principles of:

Gardening for wildlife – planting, providing habitats and shelter for as wide a diversity of flora and fauna as possible.

Recycling and re-using as many things as possible around the garden.

Looking at how we can be creative in the process.

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Roots, old branches, etc are collcted and arranged in a shadier area which also has ferns and hostas. We keep this area as moist as possible to encourage the growth of fungi. This is also a great area for invertebrates that like peeling and rotting timber.

Left: The prunings we have left over are collected and stored. The container is made up of an old shelving unit. On the other side of the Cottoneaster tree, two lines of branches form poles between which we lay smaller cuttings. This hides a boring timber fence and provides a shelter for wildlife. The cuttings break down and you add to this over time. Right: Some of the twisted branches left from pruning are used to create fences. An old wrought iron gate provides support. These become weathered and the peeling bark hides insects and other invertebrates.

Other prunings have been used to create archways. Through the archway, the blue garden seat is made up of the headboard and footboard of an old single bed. The headborad provides the back rest, the footboard the two sides and a number of the bed slats provide the seating. You can sit here and watch the birds at the feeding station which is the top section of a larger tree pruned last Autumn. Its branches are strong enough to bend and support the feeders. The larger birds (pigeons, collared doves, jackdaws and magpies are not too keen on feeding on these).

This is not everyones idea of gardening. While we improvise in certain areas of the garden, we do have our flower borders and beds. These are vital to provide the pollen for the insects. We just like things a little rougher around the edges to cater for as wide a diversity of wildlife species as we can.