Roots of Change: Let’s Plant for the Future
Imagine, for a moment, that you are in a sumptuous garden, ensconced amidst an exotic array of flowers, shrubbery, trees and vines. The tranquility soothes, myriad scents caress the air, form and hue dazzle the eye. Few things compare to the astonishing beauty and power of nature and its ability to both calm and energize.
Our desire to surround ourselves with plants and flowers, be it backyard, balcony or window box, is universal and spans the millennia.
Gardens have been captivating our imaginations and infusing our lives with pleasure, since ancient times. The oldest garden plan on record dates back 4,000 years to Ancient Egypt. The Pharaohs of antiquity, with their lavish abundance and propensity for all things exotic, had gardens beyond imagining. It must have been incredible to experience those vast, immaculate gardens.
The last 1,000 years have seen dramatic changes in the way we plough, plant & harvest. These innovations have contributed to serious problems such as erosion and desertification. As global travel and trade increased, the introduction of exotics into greenhouses and backyards rapidly grew. Many indigenous plants disappeared while others were pushed to near extinction. The evolution of gardens and gardening is fascinating but, for today, let’s focus on the future ... let’s put down some roots!
One of the most important things we can do for the rectification and promotion of biodiversity, an essential element of the re-greening of our fragile planet, is re-establishing indigenous species and weeding out foreign interlopers.
Our penchant for exotic plants and flowers is causing many native species to disappear completely and dramatically contributes to reducing biodiversity in both flora and fauna.
First, do a little research: tap into the pulse of a local garden centre, read books like Lawns into Gardens, utilise YouTube, anything to get you started. Next, choose your spot and figure out what plants will thrive with the amount of sun & shade it receives and in your specific wind/weather conditions. Check out Facebook … I’ve gleaned loads of advice from location-specific Facebook gardening groups, whose members are always super excited to share their knowledge and passion for planting.
Whether you’re tackling an extensive backyard garden, potting plants on terraces or balconies or revamping an allotment, be sure that you’re introducing indigenous plants that will happily coexist.
Butterfly gardens are especially pretty and extremely beneficial to the global environment, as the butterfly population needs a serious boost. Bug hotels are fun to build and add lots of interest, biodiversity and keep your greenery happy and healthy.
If you have the space, composting greatly improves the health of the soil, helps retain nutrients and attracts beneficial organisms while reducing the need for fertilizers and pesticides. Find everything you need to know about backyard composting at www.epa.gov.
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If you’re eager but don’t know how to get started you might want to whip up a smoothie, snuggle up in your favorite chair and watch the binge-worthy show, Growing a Greener World; you can find the episodes on Youtube or brew up some fresh herbal tea and prepare to be fascinated by the folks who made ”Gardening with Native Plants: Learn From Our Mistakes”.
”Big Dreams Small Spaces” is a delightful, informative Netflix series featuring British horticulturist, Monty Don … every episode is packed with buckets of information and imaginative solutions to transform even a very small space into a beautiful oasis.
If you’re not fond of digging in the dirt or are pressed for time, check out options such as Plant A Billion Trees at www.nature.org. Visit www.tree-nation.com to “Reforest the World”, or check out Trees, Water & People who are doing amazing work in Central America and the US at www.treeswaterpeople.org.
Perhaps you can spearhead a project for an indigenous gardening initiative at a local school or community centre, or maybe try to encourage a local high-rise to create a “green roof”.
No matter what you do, do it with joy, with passion and with your own personal flair. We all leave a footprint on the world . . . let’s make that footprint a beautiful one!
In the words of Audrey Hepburn,
Wishing you a vibrant, blossom-filled day and a brighter, greener tomorrow!
Until next time . . . .