It has been a really exciting and challenging journey creating my garden in its first year, using the principles in my book, shared by Queen Maeve of the fae, an ancient Irish earth goddess and one of the gate keepers to the faery realm.
As I sit in my garden on a sunny morning just past Imbolc I can hear a bee humming outside and plenty of birdsong. Spring is well and truly on its way. I have felt so grateful seeing the snow drops I planted last year, emerge. I didn’t know what to expect with the poor soil and I wait to see what has survived the severe frosts we have had. I raised most of my plants from seeds last year and together with the drought we had here in the UK, I have no idea if these relatively young plants have survived, although I did protect them from the frost with cloches made from plastic bottles – quite an eyesore but hopefully they have done the trick.
These are some of the plants that I have planted – all drought tolerant and pollinator friendly: –
Various Achilleas, Agastache Navajo sunset, Agastache Apache sunset, Anthriscus sylvestris Ravens wing, Centaurea americana aloha, Deschampsia cespitosa, Echinacea pallida, Echinacea pow wow wild berry, Eryngium Planum blue glitter, Eryngium giganticum miss Willmotts ghost, Lychnis coronaria var alba, Miscanthus sinensis, Pimpinella major rosea, Salvia nemorosa Rose Queen, Verbena hastata blue spires and white spires and Perovskia atriplicifolia Blue Steel.
Many of these flowered in their first year!
I have not tidied up the garden so that wildlife can overwinter and will probably cut back old growth as late as early April. The grasses and seed heads of the teasels and verbena looked stunning in the frost and I have been rewarded by seeing goldfinches feasting on the seeds all through the winter. That said, I couldn’t resist cutting off the old leaves on the Hellibores as the new ones push through and the flowers unfurl – showing them off at their best.
I have planted 10 trees in total, some I brought with me in pots and are quite small and the rest I have chosen for their wildlife attributes such as Rowan, Crab apple, Cotoneaster and Amelanchier.
My native mixed hedge comprising of, Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Elder, Dog rose, Rosa Rogosa and Guelder rose has not done particularly well and the drought played a huge part in this. I did feed them but there is a lot of plant competition constantly growing up around their roots and I need to clear this away and mulch them this year, to give them a fighting chance. I have yet to dig out the compost bin and this will be placed around their roots. My husband is going to rebuild the compost bin so that it has two compartments, one active and one composting.
I chose to turn over the turf I lifted to cut away grass paths (the garden was all lawn), so that moisture was locked into the dry sandy soil and so that it could rot down and provide some goodness, but that has meant tufts of grass have fought back in places and constantly need plucking out.
I added to the herb spiral in the autumn of last year with some lovely plants from urban-herbs.co.uk These were smoky rosemary, oregano hot and spicy, orange thyme, Doone valley thyme and lemon curd thyme. I love unusual herbs and I also have ginger rosemary, strawberry mint and chocolate mint, the latter planted in bottomless pots lowered into the soil to contain their roots. I am looking forward to the spiral being completely covered with herbs and indeed all of the flower beds to be planted up further with the intention that ultimately, I don’t want bare soil, which nature abhors.
With that in mind I am going to plant more wild flowers this year in the designated wild area at the back of the garden and have found a great website called plantwild.co.uk They list which plants like acid, alkaline or neutral soil and I have just tested mine and it is neutral bordering on acidic. I especially love the wildflower ‘Fox and cubs’ because of its vibrant orange colour and its name! I also need to plant some shrubs for height and wildlife cover.
I am also going to research which plants to grow for caterpillar food. It’s all very well growing flowers for nectar for the pollinators, butterflies and moths but their larvae also need to be catered for.
I will be taking out the non- native species of plants to make room for the native plants which ultimately support more insects etc such as marigolds. I had great swathes of them last year and even though I love them I could be growing corn marigold which was introduced back in ancient times but which has naturalised.
One of my dreams I am saving for, is to purchase a flow form cascade from ebbandflowltd.co.uk to improve the health of the pond which is plagued by blanket weed being sited in full sun. This is ok for wildlife but a bit of an eye sore! I have been fascinated by the work of Viktor Schauberger, an Australian forester with a gift of perceiving natural energies and he learnt from nature that water never runs in straight lines and is at its most healthy and potent when it flows as it wants. It will also be so peaceful to hear the gentle flow of water in the garden.
I am so looking forward to sitting out in the garden this year connecting to the faery elementals and nature spirits. I see them in my mind’s eye as pulsating coloured lights and after communing with them I always feel so peaceful and joyful. The more we encourage wildlife into our gardens by creating wild spaces and favouring wildflowers, the more nature spirits and faeries will flourish.
I will finish this blog with a paragraph taken from the end of my Enchanted Garden book.
‘Connect with the spirit of your land, flow the green ray of Nature through you, call in Queen Maeve, the fae races and other beings of Nature, and begin to garden consciously. Your land then becomes your temple space; conscious gardening becomes your active prayer/ meditation and you will leave your garden re-enchanted with life. Remember, you are Nature and we are all evolving back to the golden age of the ‘One Heart’. Blessed Be.’