Tuesday, 18 November 2008

What is sustainable gardening?


"Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children." Native American Indian saying.

Sustainable gardening is about respect.

It is respect shown for the environment by only using organic methods. No weed and feeds, no watering of the lawn, no roundup. So, no poisoning of hedgehogs or song thrushes. No residues washed through the soil into water courses.

Respect for the environment too by reducing waste. Prunings and lawn clippings are not carted away, but used as mulches and sources of compost. Planting schemes are thought through to avoid large amounts of waste plant material that go to landfill or require plant, machinery and energy to convert into compost.

Reduction too, in the environmental impact of landscaping schemes. Reclaimed materials mean that energy isn’t used to manufacture the latest garden craze. Natural, regenerating materials or reclaimed materials are chosen. Large areas of lawn requiring powered mowing are designed out, so that the area can be maintained by a renovated old push mower.

Each of us can grow some of our own food, no matter how small our balcony, patio, yard or garden. Growing our own organic food reduces food miles, tastes better and does us more good. Our lives are better, our lifestyle more sustainable.

And the wildlife that we have displaced by building our homes and gardens must not be ignored. Use of the locally-occurring flora in the garden will mean that your garden has a natural feel and that the plants are a ‘best-fit’ with your soil and local climate. These will benefit local insect, bird and animal life. In England, allowing garlic mustard to grow will provide food for orange tip butterflies. A buckthorn bush will provide food for brimstone butterfly caterpillars. A small garden pond will provide water and bathing for birds and a place for newts and frogs to breed. They will go on to eat the slugs that are spoiling your hostas!

But it is also about respecting me. 21st century living has become toxic for many of us. Our working hours are too long, our budgets stretched, our families given insufficient priority. Sustainable gardening sustains the spirit. I feel better for being in my garden. I do feel a real sense of healing as I tend the garden or sit in it on my own or with family and friends..

It is sustaining me.


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