Stop worrying about those plants that keep failing to thrive in your garden. Now’s the time to open up to more natural and low-maintenance alternatives that are guaranteed flourish, says professional gardener Svenja Schwedtke.
“One of the great challenges of our time is climate change. A change that definitely scares us and also means plenty of change in the garden,” says the Germany-based gardener.
She is calling on others to change their approach, and move away from those thirsty green lawns and beds of hydrangeas that are less sustainable in times of water scarcity. “We have to rethink!”
As times and weather become more extreme, she says it’s exciting to contemplate what might grow better nowadays.
“It’s such a joy when a gardening approach works without so much watering,” says Schwedtke with an appeal to climate-conscious gardeners: “Let’s be open, let’s try things out, let’s learn something new!”
She is quick to note that this does not mean ignoring climate change, or making it seem less of a catastrophe than it is.
After all, we are looking at a greater number of natural disasters and the end of life as we know it, if we fail to halt global warming.
But you can make positive changes in daily life and that includes in the garden. Try out these three suggestions for changing your garden.
The problem is that summers in many places are becoming hotter and drier, meaning plants are likely to wilt if they can’t draw enough water, forcing the gardener to help out, despite the rising likelihood of water shortages.
Why not try picking new plants for the garden that make more sense for the region where you live, so they don’t need as much additional watering, even if the weather is dry? That might mean having fewer hydrangeas, but you could try out some Mediterranean plants instead.
We are seeing fewer and less diverse insects and birds in many places as they struggle to find food or a space to live in gardens.
This year, instead of keeping a nice trim lawn, why not sow the beds with a wider range of plants and even some trees if you have the space? Otherwise try sowing meadow plants and wildflowers in a corner that you don’t mow regularly.
And instead of a tidy hedge that is only made up of one type of plant, choose a colourful mixture of shrubs to create a new hedge, including those that flower and produce fruit, not only beneficial for nature but also making the view more attractive too.
Bear in mind also that many flowers in the garden are not insect-friendly because they produce little or no pollen and nectar, say experts. Forsythia, hydrangea and geraniums are sterile. Take a closer look when it comes to some plants, too, as there are increasing numbers of sunflowers without pollen - a fact you will find in the small print of the back of the seed packet.
Also, the most dramatic flowers are not always ideal for insects, because often they cannot crawl into them - so pick what are known as unfilled flowers, which have far fewer petals and often have stamens where you can see the dusting of pollen.
A further resolution concerns peat. The trouble is that peat contains large amounts of carbon dioxide so once it is extracted from peatlands to be sold, that releases the gas which is harmful to the climate. Plus it destroys the bog that is a habitat for many animals.
Bear in mind that the vast majority of potting soils contain this very peat. Even those that say “peat-reduced” or “low peat” can consist largely of peat.
Instead, try seeking out alternatives without peat, based on compost, bark humus and wood fibres, for example. Look for labels such as “peat-free” or “without peat” - and maybe your local environmental group lists recommended products in a shopping guide. – dpa/Simone Andrea Mayer