The latest trend in outdoor space and gardening is far away from the perfectly manicured lawns, rigid colour-coded perennials in the border and slickly painted decking as you can get. A touch of the wild is creeping in, as people are now craving a more natural space, home to small wildflower meadows, supporting a hyper-local eco-system of insects, plants and birds, and getting in touch with traditional indigenous foliage and haphazard planting schemes. Even the Beckhams are in on the movement, with formal swimming pool designs scrapped in favour of a natural ‘swimming hole’ with plants, using geothermal currents. The appeal of this trend is clear to see, as we all become more aware of our own roles within the delicate balance of the earth. So if you want to reclaim some of your outdoor space for Mother Nature, where do you begin?
Learn to Relax
First, and most importantly: chill out! We’re so used to putting a lot of work into gardening, finding seasonal tasks to fit in and trying to time everything right. So it can feel like a complete change of pace to commit to rewilding an area and to actively have to leave it alone! You’ll have to get comfortable with a bit of untidiness and understand that it doesn’t mean neglect. Part of the job is to act as more of a natural habitat for the local wildlife – so that pile of fallen leaves or chopped logs shouldn’t be tidied away, as they could well be providing valuable habitations for small creatures. Like all things, it’s about balance – designate an area of the garden to be your ‘meadow’, and focus most of your weeding, pruning and mowing elsewhere.
Mix and Match Your Planting Scheme
Traditionally, we’re taught to keep our vegetables as well segregated as possible from our flower beds, but rewilding calls for a much more haphazard approach. There are many positive benefits to flaura and fauna when you mix and match, as it makes your garden prime territory for pollinators. With more of a succession of flowering periods, pollen and nectar are available to insects throughout the entire growing season, not just within a small window. Flowers complement herbs too, so mix in lavender with sage, chives and mint and the odd curveball such as artichoke that’s been left to flower. It’s a piecemeal process of discovery, but that’s precisely what’s so wonderful about it.
Change Your Weeding Ways
It’s a well-known fact that any plant is a weed if it’s growing where you don’t want it to, but with rewilding that tends to go out of the window. You could find yourself being surprised by plants we are traditionally thought to think of as pests, such as nettles and dandelions. Both plants provide unique and coveted habitats for some species of insects – like rare Red Admiral butterflies who leave their larvae at home in nettles. They also play host to aphids, who in their turn provide vital sustenance for ladybirds, who keep a natural balance on their numbers during the growing season. And when nettles go to seed? Ideal snacking material for smaller birds. Your garden would then be providing a valuable contribution to the local wildlife.