This is a beautiful piece from Greta McCarthy. Greta is a horticulturist who really knows her craft. Enjoy Biodiversity through Gardening in Kerry is something that we see in her own garden and her great achievment in setting up a herb enterprise from her home in Annascaul. aHer herb book can be found online or through her shop
Gardening for Biodiversity by Greta McCarthy O’Brien
Most of us will experience some form of isolation during this virus pandemic and sadly many of us have suffered profound personal loss.
The need for solace and hope leads us back to the garden – safe within the confines of our own boundary. Cutting the hedge or mowing the lawn is no longer a chore but a pastime to cherish. Growing and harvesting vegetables, herbs and flowers is an extremely gratifying activity. There is the tranquillity of being in the garden has a therapeutic effect on our mental wellbeing.
The one thing we can safely touch is the pure earth. We can retrace our steps back a generation. For many of us during these contemplative times – memories of old Ireland come flooding back.
Nostalgia for Biodiversity
I link my nostalgia to my childhood in East Cork, particularly around harvest time. Firstly I remember the picking of new spuds from the rich black earth. Secondly, the heady scent of tomatoes in my fathers’ glasshouse. The excitement of running after the noisy combine harvesters to catch the fallen pea pods. Thirdly I recall the warm nights, lolling on haystacks sharing ghost stories. There were plenty of bees and butterflies back then and we felt secure in our natural environment.
Now several decades on, life is very different. The essential heart of existence is in trouble in so many ways. In his documentary on extinction which I still must see, David Attenborough says, “Scientists have linked our destructive relationship with nature with the emergence of COVID-19”. A startling fact is around one million species out of 8m on earth are now facing extinction. There are many facets to our destructive behavior. Annihilation of habitats is top of the list – from rainforests to hedgerows we have a lot to answer for in the court of divine creation.
Enjoy Biodiversity through Gardening in Kerry is her central message “We should all strive to understand the concept of biodiversity. For gardeners, this simply means increasing the variety of living things. This can be in our garden by creating or preserving vital habitats. These include ponds, boglands, flower meadows, woodlands or hedgerows, and by growing plants that enrich wildlife”
Create Mini Habitats
No matter what size your outdoor space you can plan and plant for biodiversity. You can create Mini habitats anywhere. They often occur naturally, succeeding most effectively without man’s interference. Perhaps turn a blind eye to that messy pile of scrub in the corner behind the shed. Biodiversity loves the laid-back gardener!
A perfect example of a biodiversity garden is the recent creation at the Díseart in Dingle by Breda Enright. Her dedicated team was designed by Mary Reynolds with construction work by Sean Moriarty. It is an absolute joy, consisting of breath-taking flower meadows, woven willow structures and an interesting selection of my herbs. I’d highly recommend a visit.
Create a Garden with Purpose
The following list contains ideas to encourage you to create a garden with a purpose. Doing so will attract a wide variety of birds, beneficial insects, and mammals. If mankind becomes extinct at least we can leave behind some life forms!
- Plant for bees: Snowdrops, crocus, borage, calendula, oregano, thymes, willow, sweet pea, wildflower mix.
- Grown and plant berries and seed for birds: Teasel, ornamental grasses, cosmos, sunflowers, hawthorn, elderberry, holly, mountain ash, cotoneaster, dog-rose.
- Additionally, plant for butterflies: Buddleia, red valerian, verbena bonariensis, snap dragons, solidago, eupatorium, sedums.
- Avoid chemicals – preserve a clump of nettles for butterfly larvae
- Don’t cut your lawn too often, don’t shun the dandelions, clover and daisy.
- Sow a batch of wildflowers in autumn or spring.
- Create a water feature such as a pond or birdbath or simply put out a container.
- Don’t forget to eat: Grow parsley, rocket, radish, lettuce and of course lots of herbs!
Greta’s Garden Consultations and other articles at the Irish Times
Greta’s Herb Book online sales
Details available on www.gretasherbs.com
Feel free to get in contact if you would like to do an article on HumanDoIt or if we can contribute an article on your site . Incidentally you might like this article on forestry in Ireland .