Diane Beresford-Kroeger has spent a lifetime studying as a botanist and biochemist, and has cultivated an incredible wild garden that includes trees, perennials, a kitchen garden, a meadow, a pond, a small vineyard, and thousands of plant species with healing properties. Here are her tips on how to start your own beautiful eco-rich garden:
1. Soil is not just dirt but a thriving ecosystem of micro-organisms (up to a billion in one teaspoon of soil) and bigger creatures such as worms and beetles. Nourish them with a good organic mulch and they will in turn nourish the plants.
2. Focus on fragrant plants, including trees and shrubs, that not only attract the insects vital for pollination but also enhance our sensual delight in the garden. And they may do even more: Research indicates that scents such as peppermint may increase your brain function and help maintain focus.
3. Grow a diverse mix of trees and shrubs rich in flowers and fruit to provide food and lodging to wildlife, especially birds. In addition, birds need open spaces that act as landing strips and airways, so keep a stretch or two of lawn. (Bats and flying squirrels will appreciate it too.)
4. Encourage insects, bees and butterflies by providing nectar-rich plants across the seasons, from bulbs and basswood trees to sea hollies (Eryngium) and bee balm (Monarda) . Many plants are multi-purpose: For instance, a “feeding hedge” composed of plants such as honeysuckle, barberry and winterberry will supply nectar and pollen in spring, fruits in fall and shelter year-round.
5. Pick colourful blooms in a variety of forms (tubular, flat, umbel, daisy). Many beneficial insects are attracted to colour, just as gardeners are.
6. Include water, whether it is a full-fledged pond or a simple birdbath. If you can, make it moving water — the splashing and gurgling are a magnet for wildlife and a magical sound to the human ear.
To read about Diana Beresford-Kroeger’s astounding garden with 6,000 potentially healing species and 10 that you can grow in your own backyard, click here.