At our March meeting we were delighted to welcome John Little whose garden was featured in the March edition of the RHS magazine, The Garden. He introduced his talk by emphasising the importance of gardens and gardeners; talked about the undervaluing of gardeners, and the lack of revenue to maintain large gardening projects, often created with a substantial amount of capital funding. We saw examples of some brilliant community gardening projects developed for the community, contrasted with bleak public spaces with no greenery at all. John talked about the necessity to rethink our gardening and create new landscapes growing on unusual materials eg rubbish destined for landfill or left through fly tipping. We saw pictures of the Canvey Wick nature reserve managed by the RSPB and Buglife, a brownfield site which developed on poor quality soil and sand, gravel and chalk. It now supports more species of invertebrates – including 30 species on the UK’s red list – than any other Site of Special Scientific Interest in the country. John recommended that gardeners should work alongside entomologists to ensure that planting can support a wide range of invertebrates – which in turn encourages a greater population of wildlife in gardens. John explained how it is possible to grow plants on sand, rubble and other building materials. He showed us pictures of the beautiful planting in his own garden, using Gabions to hold waste material to form boundaries, green roofs on sheds and bike shelters and altering the topography of the garden by creating mounds on which to plant. Members were inspired to try planting in builders sand or creating mounds in their own gardens. In the words of one member – John’s talk was truly inspiring in his subject and delivery ……it did feel as if there was something each of us could do in our own gardens.
The AHS committee is organising a visit to John’s garden on the 1st June – details will be sent to all members and supporters in the next few weeks.