A good garden can and should be about a lot more than growing flowers or food. Cathy Isom tells us about some useful things besides plants that will spruce up your garden. That story is ahead on This Land of Ours.
Gardens are places for growing, and while most of it is largely centered around plants, there are many other things of benefit that are important for a healthy, self-sustaining polyculture garden system. In other words, cultivating a good garden can and should be about a lot more than growing flowers or food.
It’s not rocket science (or organic chemistry), really. A quick look at most natural systems with abundant plant life will reveal a diverse collection of rocks, organic debris, animals, insects, and bodies of water. These elements are working together to help one another thrive and survive.
While all such elements might not be necessary in every garden or ecosystem, the inclusion and combination of many is certainly a good idea that’ll help landscapers produce positive results. And, there are tons of options out there.
Stones can play a vital role in gardens. They provide an aesthetic break in the greenery, while also fulfilling several practical needs as well. Rocks help to create borders for keeping raised areas of the gardens intact. Beneficial insects and animals like to use them for shelter. They trap heat in the day, helping the plants surrounding them stay warm at night. The interruption in the landscape also becomes a natural (even if unnaturally put there) place for water and nutrients to congregate, making the soil around rocks extra fertile.
Landscapes with an abundance of water tend to support a lot more greenery. The better we can trap and store water in our gardens the more beneficial. Ponds are a great way to do it. Not only does the moisture help plants, but it provides garden animals with a place to drink, bathe, and cool off. Ponds also help us with keeping the land hydrated, even when it’s not raining regularly, and can (actually should) even be used as a component for irrigation and drainage. Plus, like rocks, they hold temperatures for longer, so water can provide some warmth at night.
3. Insect Hotels
Most of the time gardeners are taught to fear insects, those pests of propagation, and while some can be very damaging, insects on the whole are a good thing for the garden. They aerate the soil. They maintain healthy life cycles, with pollinators pollinating and larvae converting organic matter into compost and, yes, even with predatory insects keeping the pest population at a workable level. Insect hotels provide habitats for the whole six-legged menagerie because a garden with poly-bug-culture is much better than monoculture.