I’ve had a medium size garden for nearly ten years now. With careful consideration (and some happy accidents!) I have ensured that we are regularly wowed by small wonders of nature. Here’s what I’ve learnt:
- Embrace nostalgia
- Plant something you remember from your childhood, or which you associate with someone you love. Every time you see it, you will feel a warm glow. The sight and smell of strawberries and tomatoes take me back to eating them as a child.
- Create joy
- Plant pretty flowers you can pick and bring inside; it’s also lovely to pick them for other people. This year I will be growing Gladioli, Dahlia and Cosmos alongside my vegetables.
- Put grasses in a spot which gets the first or last of the day’s low sunshine. The graceful seed heads will create stunning shadows, and you won’t be able to stop looking at them and taking photos. The grasses pictured are in a beautiful Suffolk gravel garden.
- Repetition is very pleasing. If you plant Alliums for example plant 12 not 3.
- Read Joyful by Ingrid Fettel Lee if you are curious about what makes us joyful, and why.
- Brighten up sparser months
- Plant bulbs. There is nothing more joyful than seeing bulbs coming up in the Spring when the rest of the garden is still resting. The flowers attract giant bumblebees grateful for this early source of nectar. If some are in pots, you can bring right up to the doorstep. This morning I noticed something new in my front garden which had popped up after yesterday’s warmer weather – Iris reticulata ‘Katharine Hodgkin’ which is pale blue with perfect dark blue and yellow markings. There were only two flowers but at this time of year it was enough to really make me smile.
- Create a garden for all seasons. If you only buy plants once a year, you will miss the best plants from the other three seasons.
- Create a mini wildlife reserve
- Fennel grows huge and this Winter I’ve had Blue Tits and Warblers feeding on the seeds
- We’ve had Redwings, Fieldfares, Mistle Thrushes, Song Thrushes and Blackbirds feeding on our neighbours Holly, Cotoneaster and Sorbus berries. Without the berries, they wouldn’t be in our garden.I’m now planting some on our side of the fence.
- Feed the birds and put up nest boxes. Every day I watch and smile. Today a Sparrowhawk swooped past the kitchen window.
- Buy a birdbath. Is there anything more wonderful than watching a bird having a dip? We also have a barrel pond with pebble beach, which is great for both birds and insects.
It’s also worth paying extra attention to your garden when the weather changes. Hotter, colder, snow or rain. All can change the behaviour of animals and birds. I saw a Long Eared Owl in our garden on a snowy day in 2012! My best ever nature spot.
Next time you redesign an area of your garden think about the joy it might bring you in the future. You might think differently about what to put there!