It’s tempting to think that a journalist writing for The Times – Nicholas Hellen – had been reading our very own HLE blog and decided to join in our attempts to encourage people to make their gardens more ‘green’ and ‘wildlife-friendly’!
This very week, just as we are all feeling the effects of record-breaking high temperatures, The Times published an article giving lots of hints on how your garden can help you to deal not only with the heat but also with noise and pollution.
Their attention-grabbing introduction says:
‘Can’t stand the heat? Change your garden. Householders who swap concrete for plants can create a microclimate that fights extreme temperatures, flooding, noise and even air pollution, according to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).’
Lots of helpful advice on what plants to grow to curb noise (hedges), stay cool (Virginia Creeper) and cut down on pollution (privet, cotoneaster …)
And while we are thinking about our gardens, we shouldn’t ignore our front garden because over the past 20 years the number of front gardens paved over has doubled until we now have almost a third of the country’s front gardens paved over to make room for a car (s). (What’s Happening to Our Front Gardens?)
Even if your front garden is very small it can be ‘greened’ and made beautiful – The Times article spoke very highly about a small garden in front of a house in London which is only 23ft x 19ft but which is beautiful enough to have been selected by the National Gardens Scheme to be opened to the public.
The Times article was an excellent piece of writing but I did spot just a couple of important omissions:
1. Scant attention was paid to the fact that by keeping your garden ‘green’ you are helping to combat climate change. Every blade of grass absorbs carbon dioxide and emits oxygen. I wonder if we can really criticise Brazil for cutting down trees when we are sometimes reluctant to maintain even a small patch of green outside our house?
2. There is no mention of another very important fact – by planting flowers we are helping to stop the decline of the bee population. As long ago as 2012 Sarah Raven in the BBC programme “”Bees, Butterflies & Blooms”, claimed that:
“One of the main reasons our pollinators are under threat is due to their poor health and nutrition. A lack of a rich and varied supply of pollen and nectar throughout the year to feed our insect workforce is leaving them vulnerable to the effects of pesticides and parasites and threatening some species with extinction’. She goes on to make a call for action “If we all make small changes in our local areas and grow more wildflowers and insect-friendly plants, then we can lend a strong helping hand to our bees, butterflies and pollinating bugs. Together, we could help to reverse the trend, maybe stop extinctions and secure a future for our threatened pollinating insects.”
Many people throughout the ages have believed that big change happens when enough people make small changes but one of my favourite quotes which I have used before, but will do so again because it is so pertinent, is from Vincent Van Gogh who said:
‘Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.’
So, even if your garden is small and you need space for the car, by making room for a small flower border or some pots you will be contributing to the ‘series of small things’ which will achieve great things!
And, by the way, if you feel like doing even more to encourage others, you could print off our “Front Garden Thank You Cards” and pop one through the letter box of a neighbour whose garden is looking green and is providing a feast for the bees!