Sustainable gardening – working with nature
Being grounded at home over the last 10 weeks or so has had its’ advantages. The first great bonus was the lovely weather we have enjoyed, the warm sunny conditions were ideal for spending time outdoors. As a keen amateur gardener it was the perfect opportunity to catch up on gardening tasks which had been neglected or always seemed to fall off the to do list!
The garden is my outdoor gym and as I watched walkers, runners and cyclists pass by I was getting my exercise digging the soil and doing various physical tasks. We have a small stream called ‘the Burn’ at the side of our garden which has the potential to become a central feature of the garden. It flows into the Irish Sea which is just across the road from the garden.
We decided to put in a garden path down to the stream and along it. We were able to recycle flat stones from around the garden and stream. I was pleased by that as I am keen on sustainable living. It is a good idea to use what is around you rather than always needing to make new purchases.
The banks are steep so some days it felt like gardening on the slopes of Slieve Donard while at the same time trying to avoid slipping into the stream! On one of the days a passing family stopped to look at the stream and the little boy spotted sticklebacks.It was lovely to hear him excitedly telling his father what he had spotted. On a couple of occasions I spotted a young frog which appeared to be using the underside of a hosta as a habitat. Being outdoors for long periods of time I appreciated and really enjoyed the birdsong for the first time. I was awakened to a whole world of nature going on around me. I had the opportunity to see spring unfold before my eyes.
Upstream along the Burn where there are mature trees sheltering it and along the banks were numerous ferns. This inspired me to try and create a natural look further downstream. I transplanted some ferns with mixed results. Some have thrived and others dislike the open sunny aspect near the sea where there is no tree canopy and look like they may die off. Calla lilies were that were growing in another area of the garden were subdivided and planted near the stream. They are a wetland plant and they have just begun to flower which is lovely.
I recycled some hosta plants from another area of the garden and planted them on the slopes. I like hosta because they have abundant foliage, are low set and not damaged by the strong winds which we sometimes experience in our coastal location. These winds would topple other plants like lupins. I also planted lavender to attract bees and to introduce some colour. There is nothing I enjoy more in the garden than digging up congested clumps of snowdrops, primroses, bluebells and daffodils and separating out the bulbs and replanting them in new sites. I make more work for myself! but it is very satisfying to create new areas of flowers using what nature has given us in abundance so snowdrops and daffodils bulbs are planted in anticipation of spring. Sustainability in practice.
If Covid 19 had not happened then the garden project along the Burn would not have got underway. Hopefully a combination of enthusiasm and enjoyment will keep my motivation going to work on the next phase of the project.
If you enjoy walking in natural areas along the coast why not check out my walking tours >>