It would be untrue to say that I’m a keen gardener – I just never have been. And I’m not particularly green-fingered either, even with indoor plants. Hardy herbs are about as good as it gets for me!
But I recognise the critical importance of gardens, and count myself as a big supporter of the Wildlife Gardening Forum. You’ll find an absolutely cracking Manifesto on its website (Let our Gardens Live: a Manifesto for Gardens, People and Nature), and anyone with a garden out there (and I’m not talking fancy gardens here, just good old bog-standard gardens!) will learn a lot from plugging into this amazing network.
Gardens are important from so many different angles – starting with the contribution they make to biodiversity. Individual gardens may be small, but they’re stuffed with plants and micro-habitats which support all sorts of ecologically important species of insects and other creatures. And when you look at it from a neighbourhood perspective, individual gardens aggregate to create a network of favourable habitats that will help our wildlife stay on the move and adapt to climate change.
Gardens are also so important for people (not least by making cities cooler and more pleasant to live in), and critical for children. They’re the first place that many of us discover the excitement of studying living nature, and the importance of gardens and green infrastructure to people’s physical and mental wellbeing is now very well established.
So don’t underestimate the combined firepower of millions of small gardens across the entire country – it all adds up to an area one-fifth the size of Wales!