Modern Gardens

A recent development in gardens in the last 10 years is the acceptance by most people to the idea of environmental gardening, which has resulted in more and more people enjoying the garden, instead of just it's picturesque appearance.

You will know what I mean by looking around at other peoples gardens, there are the gardens full of straight lines, close cropped, with plenty of bricks and gravel imposing the owners domination over nature. Then there are gardens which, although orderly in their planting, are far more sympathetic to nature. Where the shrubs and hedges have softer more rounded shapes than the hard harsh lines of the older school of gardeners.

Another difference between modern gardening and the old style, domination of nature type gardening, is the way the owners are tolerant of wildlife. There's an old fella who lives just round the corner from me, his garden is neat with straight lines everywhere and so neat and tidy you could be excused for thinking that it is an extension of his front room, which is how he describes it. He is intolerant of any other creatures in his territory, he kills every insect he finds, Beatles, Ants and anything else that moves he poisons, also most of his plants are sterile, producing large flowers for appearance (to show I think) but the flowers do not produce nectar, so nothing for the Bees or Butterflies and of course no berries or seeds for the Birds, in his own way he is an environmental disaster. Last year I saw him trying to exterminate a little Ants nest that had colonized a spot by his garden gatepost, the Ants in question were the tiny red ones (Myrmica rubra) their main disadvantage to man is that they live and breathe, the advantages to man is that they eat garden pests, and build tunnels allowing plants to prosper due to increased aeration and drainage to their roots. Also they contribute to producing a fine tithe which improves the condition of the soil, allowing it to support a healthy flora and fauna which ultimately help to produce healthy vigorous plants. So all in all providing the Ants stay they are a boon to all gardeners, but not this old fella he spent several days pouring boiling water and coating them with Ant powder, what a waste of time and effort not to mention the needless release of chemicals into the environment.

Another disgusting habit currently in fashion is hard landscaping, this is where bricks, gravel and concrete are used to impose a type of order in the garden providing barriers to nature. I prefer soft landscaping, like Capability Brown and I feel that your garden beauty can be enhanced by choosing your plants carefully and allowing nature to paint your landscape. The delight and wonder of allowing natural processes to provide your 3 dimensional landscape is a lot more wondrous than a permanent brick wall and gravel patch.
Always choose your plants carefully and make sure that the plants you buy are not sterile. This way, not only are you providing flowers and berries for your visual enjoyment, you will also encourage Butterflies and Birds to your garden which is even more pleasing. The added benefit to this is that the Birds will clear away most of your Aphids and Snails, providing you can keep Cats out of your garden which will chase and kill the Birds that are trying to help you out.

My Mum who is a member of the old school of gardening, (dominate and eliminate everything that wasn't planted by you) will walk around my garden gleefully pointing out the Aphid "infestations" on my plants and will advise me to spray chemicals to eliminate them, "like gardeners always do" is her line, I myself take great delight in retorting with things like "don't worry Mum they'll be a pair of Tits around soon" This would break her severe tone of disapproval and I would then explain that I get some Blue Tits in the garden once a week who will hop about the Rose bushes sucking all the Aphids off all I have to do is watch, brilliant.

Also to encourage Aphid predators like Ladybirds and Centipedes I leave small clumps of dead leaves in the borders, this gives somewhere to hide during the day for ground Beatles and centipedes (Ladybirds will also overwinter amongst dead dry leaves) which come out at night to feed on Aphids. Another advantage is that Slugs and Snails congregate under these leaves which makes it easy to collect and dispose of them. Recently I have noticed Blackbirds poking through the leaf litter disposing of the Slugs and Snails for me. I also used to have a gardeners friend, the Robin, which would eliminate a lot of Slugs and Snails, but unfortunately a Cat slaughtered it.

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