Self heal, a lovely wildflower of grassy areas that is attractive for pollinators

Taking a walk on the wild side: Rewilding your garden

Designers Urquhart and Hunt’s collaboration with Rewilding Britain (see link  https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/support-rewilding/rhs-chelsea-flower-show) at Chelsea 2022 has reiterated the need to incorporate rewilding into garden design. Through an active collaboration between man and nature, we can help to restore nature from our own back gardens (see more about Rewilding Europe here https://rewildingeurope.com/what-is-rewilding-2/). This blog will give a glimpse into some basic steps you can take to boost conservation in your garden design.

An example of a wildflower thriving in an area of long grass
Viper’s bugloss, a lovely wildflower that attracts insects and grows well in long grass areas

The lawn. An integral part of many gardens that can do a world of good for wildlife when treated properly. And in terms of treatment, this is quite simple. Leave it alone and allow wild flowers to develop on their own. This can take some time but it will be a haven for bees and other insects. It is possible to either plant wildflower seeds or sow wildflower plugs, which can also speed up the process and encourage wildlife to settle in the garden. Some examples of “bee-friendly” wildflowers that grow well in long grass areas include Lotus corniculatus (Birdsfoot trefoil), Prunella vulgaris (Self-heal), Echium vulgare (Viper’s Bluegloss) and White Clover. More details on other pollinator friendly plants that you can use in your garden can be found on the All Ireland Pollinator plan.

Whatever you decide to plant, be it flowers or even a tree, try to choose ones that are native to the area you live in as this will allow the local creatures to feel right at home. Some examples of native Irish trees include Birch (Betula pendula) and Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia).

a log left in a woodland area can create an excellent habitat for wild creatures
A simple fallen log can make a home for creatures, fungi and ultimately provide sustenance for wild plants as it breaks down. One could stack other logs with this to create an even greater ecological resource.

Urquhart and Hunt’s garden, focusing on the reintegration of beavers in Great Britain, included spaces in which wildlife could settle, such as a dry-stone wall and a brook accompanied by a dam. In the previous blog, I mentioned the idea of a natural pool which is an incredibly effective way to encourage wildlife into the garden. However, if you are not in the position to make major structural changes in your garden design, smaller “wildlife spaces” are still possible. For example, logs or stacked wood (think bug hotel) will nurture the arrival of insects and the growth of fungi. Making use of the space and resources you have to “rewild” does not have to be an extensive project but I hope that even if you can’t go the full way you might see that at least one third of your garden has potential for rewilding or has potential as wildlife habitat.

I hope this has inspired you to consider, be it small or large, rewilding elements in your garden design. The results will not only boost conservation but also bring a sense of tranquillity to your garden, one with native species and nature’s restorative qualities.

to portray a natural area of woodland planting
A birch woodland area with natural mossy understorey.
Here Birch seedlings have an opportunity to seed in at the ground level and perpetuate the woodland canopy

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