The area at the rear of the main building has been due for a little renovation. It will take place over a year or so and will depend on fundraising mainly for materials. Volunteers will plan and implement the new features. These will emphasise sustainable gardening for a changing climate. It is likely to include:
Resilience is a term that has been used increasingly in a horticultural context as we look to the future and how we will plan for a climate of more extreme weather. But what does resilience mean when applied to the average domestic garden?
Tom Massey of the Royal Horticultural Society explains,
“The climate emergency is affecting weather patterns, and extreme events are becoming much more likely and frequent. This is causing devastation to landscapes and gardens that are ill equipped to deal with these conditions. It is not sustainable to have to start again from scratch every time an extreme event occurs, so resilient gardens that can adapt, survive and recover are extremely important.”
Evidently, the conditions of the site determine what is possible. Our soils are heavy clay sitting on a greensand bedrock and it doesn’t drain well. It is sheltered on the north-side of the main Centre building and protected by trees on a higher level. It is in shadow for much of the day. We do not use artificial chemical products on the site. There is a wild bee box nearby and an insect habitat (bug hotel). We want this wildlife to thrive.
The raised-beds using natural timbers had rotted to the point of needing replacement. The timber is a habitat in itself so they have been placed carefull elsewhere on the site. Instead of buying very expensive timber the new raised beds have been made with wire gabions and re-used bricks. The bricks are spaced to allow habitats for insects and reptiles. The membrane has been retained and the exhausted soil topped up with mulch from cuttings made elsewhere in the Centre.
We will plant species able to survive dry periods. As an environment centre, our focus is to avoid non-native plants.
The plants in the swale area can tolerate seasonal wet and dry conditions. It is designed to be flooded in periods of heavier rainfall and to dry out when rainfall is scarce. This swale has recycled crushed concrete but a gravel garden would be similar.
An area of lawn will take some years to establish. It is more tolerant than camomile.
Efficient use of rainfall is a key to a resilent garden. Our box-container, perhaps representing a summer house, has a wooden roof which channels into the water storage vessel. It is a re-used fluids transporter.
Hops represent Kent, of course, and climate change is proving to support an increase in Kent’s viticulture. Ours are growing in a re-used steel cabinet formerly used in the kitchen.
Watch that space!
We are using these sources for our research:
The Climate Change Garden, Kim Stoddart and Sally Morgan, Quarto, 2023
RHS Resilient Garden: sustainable gardening for climate change, Tom Massey, RHS/DK, 2023