Messy gardening for the planet
Researchers from the University of Leeds today won a gold medal in the RHS Environment section with their first ever exhibit at Chelsea Flower Show.
Called Gardening for Champions, the garden shows how simple changes to urban gardens can help the environment by saving water, encouraging pollinating insects and cutting CO2 emissions.
The winning Chelsea garden.
The academics worked with garden designer Martin Walker to put real research into practice. They say having a messy area in your garden is one of the best ways to attract insects and improve the environment. By messy, they mean leaving the grass to grow long, letting old logs rot, and letting wildflowers grow, rather than planting sterile bedding plants.
Gardeners can save water by slowing its flow: permeable paths, green roofs and water butts all help. Bees and other pollinating insects love pollen-rich flowers, for example in long grass and clover. Typical garden centre bedding plants have been bred so much that many have very little pollen, so wildflowers are a better bet. Rotting logs and sandy soils also provide perfect nesting sites for solitary pollinators, like bumblebees.
Your garden can also help cut CO2 emissions. Composting food waste and vegetable peelings means you'll have less need for fertilisers. While growing your own fruit and vegetables and planting green roofs also help cut emissions.
Gardens take up nearly a third of space in urban areas, so if gardeners make a few simple changes they'll improve the environment for literally millions of people in the UK, say the researchers.
And it doesn't matter how small (or big) your garden is. The prize-winning garden is deliberately based on a typical urban fringe Yorkshire garden to show just how easy it is to get involved. But it's not just private homes that would benefit from the researchers' designs. Councils and park authorities could also put some of these ideas into practice.
The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded much of the research behind this initiative and sponsored the garden.
Posted on 22 May 2012
Post a comment