wildlife garden naturalistic biodiverse garden

Designing naturalistic, biodiverse Yorkshire gardens, part 3

Wildlife friendly gardens, part 3

Your garden is a shared space and ensuring planting variety will encourage more wildlife and increase garden biodiversity. I will be looking at this in more detail in my final post in this series but first I wanted to address the commonly held notion that gardening for wildlife looks unkept.

Where a more naturalistic style is employed as a key element within a garden it is essential that this looks as though it is intentional.  In her article Messy Ecosystems, Orderly Frames Professor Joan Iverson Nassauer wrote about ‘Cues to Care’ – these are visually familiar treatments within different areas of the garden to show that it is cared for and the naturalistic plantings are intended and deliberate on the part of the gardener. These can range from keeping areas closely mown (or sometimes just mown pathways through longer grass areas), topiarised trees or shrubs being kept neatly clipped, bold patterns to the planting layout or to the different ‘rooms’ in the garden, or the careful detailing of the hard landscaped areas. In essence we use visible signposts to show that naturalistic areas are framed by human control to ensure that the overall space does not look “messy”. These are ideas applied by designers in many gardens – a well know example being the Topiary Lawn at Great Dixter.

On a purely practical level though, there are two actions that will instantly attract a greater variety of life to your biodiverse Yorkshire garden. These are to plant a tree and to install a pond.

Options with regards to tree planting need to be carefully thought through. The most important factor is to select a tree of suitable size (ultimate size that is) to fit your garden. It is then worth considering what will fit well in the space. The ideal tree for the people using the garden is one that looks good all year – with blossom in the spring, verdant green in the summer, fruits and russet leaf colour in the autumn, and a good form in the winter. Any tree will increase the biodiversity of your garden but you may also want to select a tree species that has been present in the UK for a few thousand years to maximise the number of invertebrates it will support. Your choices of tree, where space is limited, may include Sorbus aucuparia (the rowan), Malus cultivars (crabapples), or Crataegus laevigata ‘Paul’s Scarlet’ (a red blossomed hawthorn). The choice of any plant, and particularly of trees, may seem daunting but suppliers will provide advice on suitable trees, or a professional garden designer, such as Matt Haddon Gardens, can assist in making these decisions to add to your biodiverse Yorkshire garden.

As for water features these can vary in complexity from a waterbowl that you ensure never dries out (by topping it up regularly), to a fully planted natural pond. Whatever it looks like to you though, pondskaters and other beetles will find any body of water quickly (just like bees suddenly appear in a newly planted garden) and other creatures will then follow – from dragonflies zipping through your garden, to frogs and newts, if you’re lucky. The key points to remember with a naturalistic ground level pond though are to install it in a natural dip (where water would gather, as opposed to being on a rise, so that it looks natural), to make sure it is installed level (preventing too much liner from being visible), and to ensure that the ground below is either free draining or else has a land-drain installed (so water does not gather beneath the liner and create a bulging ‘hippo’ of liner visible at the water’s surface).

Careful planning and specific features are therefore invaluable in the creation of the naturalistic and biodiverse Yorkshire garden as this not only ensures that the biodiversity of your garden increases but also ensures that it remains a beautiful and relaxing place for the people who share the space to lose themselves in.

Please get in touch if you think Matt Haddon Gardens can help you to design your garden and create a contemporary space, drawing upon the surrounding landscape for inspiration, and using a naturalistic planting scheme to create a uniquely beautiful and enduing wildlife friendly garden within which people and nature can coexist. If you would like to join our mailing list, or find out more about biodiverse Yorkshire gardens, please click here.