My bit of wilderness

Tuesday May 31, 2005

Anyone who knows me will know that I love to keep a corner of my garden wild. Or more than a corner, if I can get away with it. So, if you were to walk into my back garden and look at the left hand corner, you’d not be surprised to see it filled with a mix of wild flowers and grasses, juiced up just a little by standard garden flowers and shrubs to present a lush, interest-filled picture that’s a constant joy to me as I sit at my desk, day after day.

It’s a place with more riches than just plants. The wild life, particularly the birds, love it to pieces, rummaging in and over it for seeds, bugs and other goodies. Sometimes they’ll peck at a particularly luscious flower or leaf, too, but there’s enough there and to spare so I don’t grudge them their dietary needs. Particularly not, given that their constant activity keeps the more rampant of the flora from seeding and crowding out lesser varieties, and reduces nasty bugs almost to nothing. The whole patch, small as it is, provides a glowing example of the advantages of leaving just a little bit of wildness in a garden.

As if that were not enough, our baby wild rabbit, still here, growing stronger and healthier every day, regards it as his own private refuge, diving deep within it when danger threatens. Not that there’s much in the way of danger in my garden.

I think the trick, the main reason why it’s such a successful ecological balance, is that we left the dead plants standing over winter, serving to provide the wild birds with a natural supplement to their diet, and protecting tender seedlings and roots from the worst of the weather. When the new growth started into life a couple of months ago we cleared the last of the dead stalks out, freeing air space for this season’s replacements, which have grown vigorously to take their place. All very gratifying.

If we were staying here I’d be haunting the wild flower nursery on the outskirts of Boston, picking up a couple of sturdy little plants now and then, and propagating the wilderness in a carefully planned extension along the length of the back border.

Some people disagree with me, preferring their close to sterile gardens, with bare, barren stretches of soil between militarily precise rows of carefully pruned plants from the latest ‘better garden’ catalogues. Goodness knows, they’re welcome to their view, and their approach, just so long as they leave me my bit of wildnerness.


Stickford, May,'05
Foxgloves, sentinels of the wilderness



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