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The Wild Gardener - Mindset change on the perfect garden

  • 15-05-2023 8:40pm
    Registered Users Posts: 8,782 ✭✭✭

    Everyone with a garden should watch The Wild Gardener on RTE1 with Colin Stafford-Johnson. In the program, Colin tries to convince everyone to move away from boring/lifeless manicured gardens and lawns and use their gardens to provide habitats for wild creatures who are obviously struggling in recent decades. In the show he transforms his old childhood garden into a haven for native plants and animals.

    Will he be able to convince people that wild gardens are the way forward?

    What are they doing in the Hyacinth House?


  • Administrators, Social & Fun Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 75,711 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭Beasty

    Moved from Current Affairs

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,513 ✭✭✭✭Jim_Hodge

    It's hardly a new concept to be fair. The issue with his view is when are you no longer actively gardening? Personally, I believe in a happy medium. It's possible to have a family friendly garden, formal lawns and flower beds and still be nature friendly. I have my neat lawn, shrubs and flowers while providing plenty for nature. I've recorded 54 species of birds in the garden, have numerous species of bumblebees, solitary wasps, butterflies, beetles, frogs, newts, foxes, rabbits and hares visiting.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,129 ✭✭✭wildwillow

    I agree with Jim. There is a happy medium. I’m not a fan of manicured lawns either but it’s easier to manage when cut regularly. I keep a big garden with lots of perennials and bulbs, vegetables, fruit and a small wooded area. I’m approaching seventy but able to maintain it. However if I went the wild route I would have an unusable plot, good for neither me nor wildlife.

    I don’t use herbicides or insecticides so the place is teeming with insects and birds.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 48,603 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder

    Will he be able to convince people that wild gardens are the way forward?

    it's at least the third time RTE have aired the series, so repetition might help!

    though it was commissioned by the BBC AFAIK.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 48,603 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder

    and tbf, referencing the comments above mine, that's not his 'garden' in the sense that that is not at his house; what he's doing is great, but it's a pet project for someone who had the land available and has the knowledge and resources to do it.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,395 ✭✭✭macraignil

    I think it was a nice program and would be worth a watch for someone with an interest in wildlife conservation. I did not get the impression it was some sort of campaign by Colin Stafford-Johnson to convince everyone with a garden to do what he was after doing and just saw it as a nicely made record of his project. The whole idea of respecting nature in gardening is not new and one of my introductions to the idea was The complete book of self sufficiency by John Seymour which was written in 1976.

    Have always kept wildlife protection as a priority in my garden and it makes it a much nicer place to spend time when wildlife can play a part in the garden. At the same time as promoting wildlife I like to experiment with what I am growing and see nothing wrong with growing some things that are not native once they are not invasive species. While wildlife is important I think the number one consideration for gardening is that it should be enjoyed.

    Happy gardening!

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 48,603 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder

    i was at a public meeting yesterday in the mansion house (a lot of which was about back garden water management) and raised the issue that while the biggest draw for kids in our garden in terms of interest in wildlife, is the garden pond - it's also the thing that people with kids are most afraid of putting in, for reasons of safety.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,419 ✭✭✭DC999

    Any 'pond' works. I buried an Ikea crate to ground level and we have a 'pond'. Maybe 15 inches tall only. Our youngest was 6 at the time so beyond the age it would be dangerous. Had a frog in the gadren maybe 2 weeks later. We get dragonflies and other insects too with it. And we are in a very urban area. Also let patches got wild at same time and added wildflowers so I guess it was a combinatinon of stuff that attracted them.

    Added in stones to 'pond' as steps so if wildlife falls in by mistake, they can climb out again. Even frogs need that which I didn't realise.

  • Registered Users Posts: 88 ✭✭ttnov77

    Love it. Even that its not his house garden as someone mentioned, it does not change the fact that its more beautiful, less management needed, better for wildlife etc, you can have exact same area in back garden and then more managed area for usage. The cut lawn is not bad if people actually use it and need it for kids to play etc, but if there is just was amount of "golf course lawn" for the sake of it, and people dont even get out to the garden then I dont see any point ....

  • Registered Users Posts: 17,886 ✭✭✭✭Thargor

    And it just refills and cleans itself from the rain or what? Very interested in this...

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,419 ✭✭✭DC999

    Yeah, fills itself from rain.

    But I never put pond plants in it. Just never got around to it. So gets algae. It's not clear water..

  • Registered Users Posts: 326 ✭✭Bellie1

    Can even use a pan to mimic a pond. going to try this . What is an oxygenating plant though?

  • Registered Users Posts: 859 ✭✭✭SnowyMuckish

    They provide oxygen for the water in the pond, making it viable for insects and other plants to live there.

    oxygenating plants usually grow very large though and mightn’t be suited for small containers.

    Future forests have a good selection of pond plants for inspiration

  • Registered Users Posts: 17,886 ✭✭✭✭Thargor

    I just dont understand how rainwater keeps them full though, are they dry in Summer? So I could just grab one of our spare cattle water tanks at home, cut the top off and bury it at ground level with some stones and plants around it and it would become a viable little habitat? I might actually do that once I get this garden sorted...

  • Registered Users Posts: 28,178 ✭✭✭✭looksee

    A simple tank with sheer sides will be a liability for a lot of wildlife, they will not be able to get in and out - as well as being a bit of a liability for kids - otherwise yes, a tank like that might lose some water in a dry spell but it will fill up again as soon as there is rain, especially if you settle it well down so it gets some run off from surrounding areas. I have a cattle trough that I use to store water for watering and if I didn't scoop it out to use it would remain full.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,156 ✭✭✭tritriagain

    I have decided to turn some of the garden into wild garden. can anyone recommend books/videos that start from scratch. I have no experience really except with typical manicured lawns and hedges. I have about 6m * 15m to play with. ultimate goal is to put a pond in as well but down the line. I am genuinely excited about starting but also haven't a clue where to start.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,395 ✭✭✭macraignil

    I think the best place to start is observing what you have to work with and see what elements of wildlife are already using the area or in the wider surroundings and could make use of the garden if it was planted up with plants that could add to their habitat. A couple of small trees or shrubs are good for adding height and therefore more places for wildlife to live so look at your neighbours and maybe public gardens to see what you like and grows well in your area. Flowers through as much of the year as possible for pollinators, plants that have fruit that birds can eat and even dense growing shrubs that have thorns are great for providing safe nesting sites for small birds. Hawthorn for example is a small tree that provides all of these. Put video clips of my own garden online in play lists based on what is in flower in each month in case it helps anyone pick out what flowers might be worth introducing to their own gardens at times where there might not be much in bloom.

    Even a bird bath can be good for providing drinking water for visiting birds if you don't want to put in the pond straight away. Also if planning a pond maybe set aside a place for that before doing any planting as it is meant to be better to have a pond not shaded too much. Drawing out what you would like to plant with full grown sizes marked out may also help get a plan together that can help with a nature friendly garden that will also be good for yourself to spend time in without needing to prune things back too much. Not being too tidy is also important as piles of pruned branches, logs or even nettles are good habitat for wildlife and could play a role in a wild garden. Some of the most wildlife friendly plants will find their own way into the garden if you don't weed them out like foxglove so it helps to find out what some of these wildflowers look like when they are small.

    Happy gardening!