Monday, 8 January 2018

Curated Nature......

It might be cold and grey but the gardening continues.....

Not in a seed sowing or even planting kind of a way, but in a planning and how will this garden work for me way which is important when you garden like I do. I garden predominantly for me, but not just in a making it look the way I like kind of way, although of course that is important but I feel it's important to go deeper than that and look at ethics in the garden.

Tithonias-rarely seen without a bee!!

I am loathe to use the word organic, because for me that isn't quite enough. Organic for me is a tool for certification; a means to an end for recognition rather than an ethic. That is not to say I don't appreciate the effort it takes to get organic certification because I am more than aware of the skill and shear hard work that this takes, but unless I was going to open my garden, what would be the point? I'm not interested in opening my garden but I am interested in creating a space that is healthy, clean if you like, and that will support more than a nice place to sit. I want to support nature and there is definitely a challenge in that in a space this small. By supporting nature I mean I want to create a natural space that feels like home to wildlife, the flora and fauna all around us but that aren't there. Or at least aren't there yet.

Now this is not new to me. Turning 40 acres of nursery from conventional to organic horticulture taught me a whole lot of things that had I not have had that opportunity, I may never have considered. There is truth in the saying, "make it and they will come", but patience is an important part of this process, as is living by the seasons and accepting that it will happen if you give it time.

But back to the garden. It's a teeny, tiny space, maybe 5m by 5m. I'll measure it at some point but that measurement isn't all that important. What's important is that it will be jam packed to the rafters with beauty that will support nature in a somewhat curated way. All the plants will be good for insects and bees, and there will be spaces for invertebrates to hide. It may not be spotless, or look like a main avenue garden at RHS Chelsea, but it will be a haven for wildlife as well as for those invited into it.

Doesn't have to be ornate! In previous gardens this type of feeder has brought in birds a plenty.

What I have never had to factor into a garden previously is that into this already busy space I have to put food growing. At the moment I have no allotment, although 42 edible spaces across the city should stop me feeling bereft from that, but I do want to include both fruit and vegetables in my plan. This is going to lead to an interesting use of vertical space that will include products that will support using the walls as well as clever, I hope, use of archways and climbing plants. We will have to wait and see if this works, but I am entering into the nothing ventured, nothing gained ethos here, and if it doesn't work I can reassess and possibly look at an allotment.

So what are you doing to start this process back to nature Sara, I hear you say? Well birds are the answer and as I sat in the garden drinking tea on Sunday morning I listened to the amazing chorus that is out there every morning and decided Sunday was the day to begin the process, if that is what you can call it, of bringing them in. I thought about a bird table but there were concerns over cats and also how much of the garden it would appear to be taking up, so instead we pootled off to Wilkinsons and bought a stand for bird feeders along with some new feeders, and filled them with peanuts, fat balls, nyger seed and a seed mix. And now we will wait and wonder who will be first to use it as they fly across the gardens that up until now they have ignored. I hope they hurry because I am spending an unearthly amount of time watching from the kitchen window.

Zinnias-the darling of the cut flower grower but still great for pollinators.

I'll keep you up to date!!

And just in case you weren't aware you can find me on both Twitter and Instagram where I am @saralimback!!


  1. Glad to have a gardener like you on earth. Am very happy for the bees, brid's, insects and etc. that could live around your garden, worry-free. Thank you!

  2. Yes! All of the above. So glad you didn't mention 'design'. Make a lovely space that nature likes and you like.

    1. There is, in my opinion, too much conversation about "design" when so often that means creating something that isn't of use to the garden owner!! I want wild beauty and colour. Thank you Celia. xx