Gardening for Insects Talk

Invertebrates are in trouble – climate change, habitat loss and pesticide use are depleting numbers at an astonishing rate. Gardeners have a unique opportunity to reverse this trend and benefit from tending a biodiverse and beautiful patch. Learn all about mosaic habitats, the benefits of dead wood and the many ways our gardens and lives depend on the butterflies, bees and bugs. Our gardens can look good and do good.

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Derry Watkins: Planting for Pollinators

Gardening for wildlife. What are the best plants to grow to support the bees and butterflies. How to make your garden both aestheically pleasing and ecologically sound.

Available to view: Garden Masterclass webinar on Gardened meadows: how to make them and keep them looking good.

Gardened Meadows – how to make them and keep them looking good – Jo McKerr

Webinar now available to rent on the Garden Masterclass site. 

A look at composing, managing and caring for meadows, meadow plantings and flowering lawns within garden settings. Gardened meadows are distinctly different from grassland meadows managed for hay, although they can be just as diverse. Some gardens with richer soils and tree cover can still recreate a meadow planting with careful choices of plants and good management systems. We cover the basic principles of composing and management; choice meadow plants and bulbs; the indigenous plant debate; planting for ecological value; balancing aesthetics and ecological benefits, bulbs and plants for flowering lawns; creating seasonality.

Regenerative Gardening with Alison Jenkins from Damson Farm

Many terms are currently being used to describe an approach to gardening that takes its cues from the natural world – ecological, sustainable, organic, re-wilding, permaculture and nature led are just a few.  We will spend the day unpicking what these terms really mean and how you might apply them in your own garden.

We will start where it all begins, with the soil.  What is it, how does it function as a living ecosystem and how to work with what you have rather than fight against it. Moving on from there we will have a look at plant succession, plant ecology and what we mean by plant communities. We’ll explore how to build a framework that works towards managing the garden for both human and wildlife benefit.

We’ll be spending the morning at Damson Farm before heading over to Jo’s garden at Church Farm in Wellow after lunch.   Although we share a similar outlook, we garden with a different emphasis and work with different soil conditions so our intention is to show you how you might use regenerative principles in a number of ways.

Jo describes Church Farm as a post industrial brown field site which features the remains of a railway line, canal tunnel and much smashed up concrete under impoverished soil.   She cultivates her garden with a gentle hand, where the planting is managed to produce a landscape that evokes an aesthetic ‘nature’ and is better adapted to its environment, encouraging biodiversity, restoring habitat and rekindling natural processes.  Her garden features a large wildlife pond, a drought tolerant gravel garden and meadow planting and demonstrates that it’s possible to grow not just resilient gardens but regenerative ones.

Damson Farm is on the edge of the Cotswold Hills in a valley once full of market gardens and orchards.   It sits predominantly on rich clay loam and has several springs running through it.   Alison practiced as a garden designer for many years before going on to study permaculture.  She’s exploring how to bring these disciplines together by creating edible gardens that are not only beautiful and immersive but have a positive ecological impact and put food on the table.  She  believes that growing our own, in whatever form that takes is a step towards self reliance and an enriched engagement with the natural world.

Garden Masterclass. Post-wild landscapes: working with the natural process

Can gardens be “Rewilded”? Can you have a garden that restore and regenerate ecological systems? During a day spent in her ‘brownfield’ garden Jo will explain how her garden was conceived and grown with more than human-scale aesthetics and functionality in mind. By accommodating natural processes and adapting gardens to their specific site, habitats and biodiversity can increase. Gardening these spaces in turn becomes less orthodox; returning to the ‘craft’ of land management and allowing a space to evolve within its wider environment.

This masterclass includes Marina Christopher who will focus on plant choices to enhance the wilder garden. Water ecologist Jason Mitchell will focus on Jo’s pond and overall project as a case study, with some references to other restoration projects and the cross over between aquatic ecology and the aesthetics of water garden design, along with practical applications to include: biological filtration, general construction considerations and the ongoing evolution of the water body.