May 15th, 2004
Encouraging Biodiversity and Wildlife

“As the UK’s leading gardening charity, the RHS advises on good gardening practice, with environmental responsibility being central to our idea of excellence.” — Simon Thornton-Wood. RHS Head of Science, Advice and Libraries.

The Royal Horticulture Society focuses on biodiversity and wildlife in their current issue of The Garden. All gardens impose a human construct on nature. Whether we benefit or destroy the environment in which we garden depends on our approach.

As a result of the 1992 Earth Summit, the UK Government developed the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. The aim is to encourage local government authorities, landowners and conservation groups in projects that maintain and enhance biodiversity. Over 1000 specific action plans have been developed as guidelines. Some focus on specific species, others on habitats.

This issue has lots of photos of wildflower meadows, creature-friendly ponds, deadwood stacks and drystone walls (which provide habitats), and native plants–tactics familiar to followers of Austin’s own Green Garden Initiative. I’m proud to live in a city that has taken a positive stance on growing and building with the environment in mind. Wouldn’t it be great if we had a nationwide committment like the UK model?

The tagline that made me chuckle was “Rather than battling to produce perfectly manicured turf, why not accept and even encourage weeds into your sward?” Can’t recall ever hearing anyone use the word “sward” around here, but my South Austin neighborhood is ahead of the garden fashion curve on this one, even without a government-sponsored Biodiversity Action Plan.

PS. Margaret. If you read this, I just wanted you to know that I really love the garden photo on the top of page 395. Maybe AJM and I can transform the meadow area into something like that.

by M Sinclair Stevens

One Response to post “Encouraging Biodiversity and Wildlife”

  1. From Margaret (UK):

    Yes, I like the photo too. “wildflower” gardening is big over here now. Within the last month the various counties of the UK have specified what shall be the county flower. The US is streaks ahead of us in this respect – you have had State flowers for ages. Cheshire has chosen a rather inconspicuous pale pink flower known as “milkmaids” It grows mainly in damp meadowland. I have discovered a self-seeded plant by the top hedge and am desperately trying to guard it.