Wild is preferable to regimented planting

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I know I’ve reached a certain level of maturity when I start to enjoy looking at other people’s gardens and having afternoon tea in village halls.

The Scotland’s Gardens scheme provides both experiences in one go, so when I read that Gattonside’s gardens were open to the public last Saturday, that’s just the place I headed for.

For those who like a bit of gardening, it provides a great opportunity to see what other people do with their portion of Scotland and can be a great source of inspiration.

After paying for admission and getting my yellow badge to prove I’ve paid, I consulted the leaflet provided, which contained a rough map of the dozen village gardens open for the afternoon, and set off to explore.

It soon struck me how everyone has their own ideas about gardening. Some prefer formality with immaculate lawns and regimented planting, while others like to stick in the plants and let them sort themselves out, always leaving room for wildlife and a bit of natural invasion.

I must say I prefer the latter.

In one large garden in particular, the owner had gone to great lengths to provide food for the local wildlife, even to the extent of leaving large patches of his lawns temporarily unmown to safeguard the clover flowers for the bumble bees.

Many gardens contained old-fashioned cottage garden flowers, which are preferred by bees and other insects, and even although it was dull and trying to rain, it was amazing the amount of bees seen working, indicating the importance of gardens for providing pollen for bees, where intensive agriculture has drastically reduced the availability of wild flowers.

Another thing which soon struck me about Gattonside was that it was built on a steep hill, and after visiting half of the gardens I was gasping for a cup of tea.

There’s nothing like a fresh cuppa from a big teapot, drunk from a china cup, complete with saucer, accompanied by some delicious home baking, to restore a flagging body.

Suitably refreshed, it was back to the streets for the final roundup.

Back home, I am in the process of setting up a new flower bed, complete with small pond, so I was fired up with ideas.

I was persuaded that most, if not all, of my flowers would be attractive to bees and that my pond would contain only native plants.

I will not be tempted to put in fish as they will eat all the insect life which I hope to encourage.

I don’t think it will take long, as only hours after I filled it with water, I noticed two small diving beetles swimming around.

I will keep you abreast of future developments in this exciting new habitat in my back garden.

Watch this space!

Email me @ corbie@homecall.co.uk