Design Secrets for a Stylish & Sustainable Garden

If you’re striving to achieve an environmentally-friendly outside space, The Garden Creative have a few tips to get you started

Words & pictures: Sarah Morgan from The Garden Creative

We are all so aware of the global climate crisis and what a huge impact climate change is having on our natural world that it is easy to feel helpless and overwhelmed by the amount of changes we all need to make. There is however one great place to start and it is righthere in our own gardens and outside spaces. My design secrets will not only help you to garden more sustainably, but will also support local communities and charities and mean that you can get out and about and support your local businesses.

Buy Locally Grown Plants

There are many local plant sellers at farmers’ markets and car boot sales. Talk to them about the plants and buy ones that are right for your garden and soil. Rather than buying seasonal display plants from large chain stores, buy herbs, bulbs and plants raised from cuttings from local stallholders. The carbon footprint of these plants is tiny in comparison to their shipped cousins. Use local nurseries as opposed to large garden centres. Here native plants are often grown and experienced plants-people can offer valuable advice.

Use Reclaimed Objects

Make a pledge not to buy any new containers for your plants. Re-use plastic trays from the kitchen as seed trays (just remember to make a few holes in the bottom), and search local salvage yards for old clay pots, metal buckets and stone troughs. These will last for years to come and add an authentic feel to the garden. If you want to make more of a statement consider using reclaimed antique wrought iron gates and shutters that you can repurpose as trellis, or turn a large pot into a water feature by adding a pump.

Grow Edible Plants

You can grow these from seed or buy locally-grown plants from school or church fairs and local community gardens or seed swaps. Grow them between other flowering plants or in large containers.

Fresh herbs and salads are easy to grow, in a re-purposed colander or old terracotta pot, all year round on a sunny windowsill or outside from April. Having a fruit tree in your garden will give you a fresh supply of fruit. If you look into how to store the fruit, it can last for many months.

Create a focal point in the garden by planting a beautiful tree which will help filter pollution in the air as well as host thousands of insects, feed birds, bats and provide shelter and shade. If you have space to plant a large tree that will live for many generations then embrace this wonderful opportunity to make a huge difference to the planet. Large trees filter more pollution and neutralise more carbon than many other plants put together.

For smaller gardens try trees that will provide year-round interest for wildlife as well as for you, Rowan, Crabapple and Hawthorn are all great.

Plant Naturally

Create naturalistic planting schemes in your garden by planting many different species of plants, lots of nectar-rich flowers for the whole year, and grasses to fill gaps and provide habitat for insects and mammals.

Perennials are plants that come back every year, so choose these over annuals that will only last until the cold weather comes. Flowers that are good for pollinators are usually single, rather than double; white, yellow or purple in colour and contain many small flowers full of nectar, Foxgloves, Cow parsley, Verbena, Centranthus, Scabious, Vipers Bugloss among many.

In the Winter heavily scented flowers attract insects when there are not so many about. These usually belong to Shrubs and climbers like Ivy, Winter flowering Jasmine, Sarcococca (Sweet box), Viburnham bonatense ‘Dawn’ and Daphne odora. Plant a few of these for beautiful fragrance and they will provide a great green backdrop for the rest of the year to more colourful perennials and bulbs.

Recycle and Re-use

Build a compost heap to put your garden waste into and make use of your green bin which the council turns into compost. Keep old patio slabs, bricks and stones to make piles for slowworms and lizards, and pile up old woody branches to make a habitat for insects. Re-purpose old ceramics and metal containers, there are lots of ideas online for re-using to help the environment and the wildlife.

Best Bee-friendly Plants

Spring: Daffodils, Bluebells, Crocus, Primroses.
Summer: Daisies, Lavender, Comfrey, Dahlia,
Bergamot, Sunflowers, Thyme.
Autumn: Verbena bonariensis, Japanese
anemones, Salvias, Asters, Sedum.
Winter: Hellebores, Snowdrops, Winter
aconites, Winter heathers, Mahonia

The Garden Creative’s directory:

Antiques and reclamation:

Barrows, 113 West Street, Faversham
Warehams, 68A Oxford Street, Whitstable

Locally-grown plants:

Edible culture, The Horticultural Unit,
The Abbey School, Faversham
Stream Walk Community Garden, Whitstable

Markets and car boot sales:

Green Living Market, Whitstable
First Sunday of each month
Faversham Antiques and Vintage market
First Sunday of each month
Church Street Mammoth Boot Fair CT5 1PG
Starts April 25th 2020

Farmers’ Markets:

Bridge Farmers’ Market
2nd and 4th Saturday of each month
Cliftonville Farmers’ Market, Margate
last Sunday of each month
West Malling Farmers’ Market
4th Sunday of each month
Faversham Charter Market
Tuesday, Friday and Saturday
Whitstable Farmers’ Market
2nd and 4th Saturday of each month

Quick ways to spring into spring

  • Brighten a dark shady corner by planting up old terracota pots with evergreen ferns and trailing plants like Vinca and Ivy.
  • Cheer up your front door by using an old bucket planted up with Primroses or Tete-a-tete bulbs. When they have finished flowering don’t throw them away – plant them in your garden for next year’s display.
  • Re-purpose an old teapot by fixing the bottom securely to a tree or fence post, ideally amongst foliage, for small birds to use as a nestbox.

Visit your local gardens as part of NGS National Open gardens Scheme. It raises a huge amount
for charity, is a great day out and you’ll get loads of ideas from other budding gardeners!

My own garden is open this year as part of the Whitstable trail on June 14th 2020.

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