Writing this in the middle of National Gardening Week, it’s easy to imagine that now the sun is peeking out and the soil is warming up we’re all excited to be getting our trugs and tools out. Gardening has become such an important part of so many people’s lives over the last year, even for those who never previously took an interest in the patch of yellowing turf outside the window! Our gardens, whether in private homes, shared spaces or allotments have provided a welcome focus, fresh vegetables and fruit and lots of fun. For some it has meant a renewed interest in the natural world and encouraged us to care for it better.
Having lived in the same house for over twenty-five years it has gradually become more apparent that there are fewer wild animals, insects and birds around us. Regular visitors like thrushes are now a rare sight and one wonders how much of that is down to the widespread use of chemical slug bait. The nightly visits of the hedgehog stopped years ago. The car windscreen doesn’t have to be scraped clean of insects. That can’t be right. As much as we found the summer flies and wasps a pain, the lack of them is worrying. We have the opportunity in our gardening to do a little bit to try and get them back and make them welcome again. Even wasps and woodlice have important jobs to do to keep our ecosystem in balance. This year, instead of trying to ‘control’ every aspect of the garden, perhaps we should try and foster more ‘wildness’? Instead of regimented rows there could be more interplanting, companion planting and just letting things go a bit. I won’t be worrying about the messy area where things get neglected and dumped. Undisturbed areas are more likely to become home to smaller creatures. I am planning to make some little watering places for them, with shallow edges to allow easy access in and out or for birds to dip.