Welcome Back

It’s been a long time.  This blog may go some way to explaining why.

During the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns people found what a wonderful place an outside space could be. This could be parks as well as gardens if you are lucky enough to have one. People wanted to make the most of what they had. You would think therefore that I would have been very busy during this time but I was finding it hard to find my place in the garden design world. 

It had become apparent to me that to design and build gardens in a sustainable way were at odds with one another. If you know me you will know that I want to do as little damage to the world we live in as possible. Somehow I couldn’t square the circle that the action of building a garden – a place that gives people pleasure and where they want to spend time – is inherently a hugely unsustainable act. The destruction of established habitats, the build process, the materials used – many coming from the other side of the world from countries with dubious human rights records, even the plants grown in peat compost and transported in plastic pots, none of this sat well with me. I resolved not to have anything more to do with it.

Extreme! I can hear you say. I think it didn’t help that the symptoms of covid I contracted at the end of 2020 hung around for most of 2021. I found solace in my own garden and when I could my allotment. 

I think the eureka moment came when I remembered how much I love plants and when put together in a certain way they are beguiling. The whole creating more than the sum of their parts. I remembered that I had actually retrained late in life to learn more about how to do this successfully. Slowly I have been inching my way towards working in, what someone wryly said was, green infrastructure services. 

I have found nurseries that grow their own plants in peat-free compost and if they don’t do it themselves those they buy from do. I still hate the plastic pots but at least with the move to non-black pots they can be recycled and some nurseries will take their pots back to be used again.

I am moving away from always adding compost to gardens I am planting. In the main they don’t need it. Our soils are mostly too full of nitrogen anyway which make for tall, floppy plants. I’ve decided that to treat plants meanly is much better for them in the long run. The most sustainable garden is the one that can survive whatever the weather throws at it. This means choosing plants carefully, making sure that they are grouped in a way that they are all happy with each other and as the mantra says ‘right plant, right place’.

Making sure the plants are well watered while they are establishing is another sustainable thing to do. In the first six weeks of their planting making sure the ground doesn’t dry out aiding the plants to ‘get their roots down’. A really good water once a week so the water seeps into the lower layers of the soil is so much better than a sprinkle every day where the water doesn’t penetrate below the surface of the soil.

The joy that people get out of even the smallest amount of well planted garden is immeasurable. I have just finished a garden for someone whose husband is undergoing chemotherapy. It has only just been planted but they are already excited about how it will look when it starts to mature as the spring and summer wears on. This is the real benefit of the work that I do. Knowing that it can transform and give hope.

It’s nice to back.

4 thoughts on “Welcome Back”

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