I wanted to put an article on Exminster.net to let everyone know of my intentions with the garden beds outside Victory Hall. I’m sure you’ve noticed that they’re looking ‘a little different’ recently.
My name is Aimée Husbands and I have volunteered to work with the Parish Council on the beds. I am a second year foundation degree student in horticulture at Bicton College. For my final year dissertation project I am investigating how biodiversity can be promoted in domestic gardens and community green spaces. I have chosen biodiversity as it is becoming a big global concern and by starting small I hope to begin changes in motion that will change the future of biodiversity. Think global act local.
Public awareness of the biodiversity crisis is almost non-existent(1) whereas climate change protests occur on a regular basis yet the two are greatly interlinked(2). Changes in land use that lead to a loss of biodiversity can lead to increased greenhouse gas emissions(3). In recent years species extinction has occurred at a rate that was a thousand times higher than the average rate during the preceding 65 million years. This extremely rapid extinction rate is likely to result in collapses of ecosystems at a global scale which is predicted to create large-scale agricultural problems which will threaten food supplies to hundreds of millions of people(4).
No matter how tiny the species; ecosystems and food-webs are tightly interwoven and work together.· Huge industrialisation and urbanisation has bought along with it the loss of green spaces, replacing them with cement.· Over 50 percent of London is now concrete.· In the last two centuries 500 animals and plants have become extinct in England and nearly 1,000 native species have been given conservation priority status because of the severity of the threats facing them(5).
Every small change matters and I would like to increase biodiversity awareness and encourage its promotion initially in our small community. At the moment the Exminster gardens beds are being filled with semi-permanent planting, this will save money and reduce disturbance to the ground. Some plants can still be removed and changed to maintain interest. The species planted have been used to promote pollinators; they are all plants that will attract bees and butterflies. Recent news stories have highlighted their shocking decline which results in lower crop production as they are not being pollinated. Albert Einstein once said that without bees, man would live no more than four years. Where possible the beds will be planted with rare species and wildflowers to promote biodiversity, also cunning methods of promoting biodiversity will be included, such as habitat stacks (aka dead wood log piles!) for insects such as stag horn beetles.
You have probably noticed that many of the plants are very small. This has been done to allow them to establish root systems in their new environment. The smallest of plants are summer herbaceous perennials, this means they will grow big and tall every summer with beautiful foliage and a big display of colourful flowers and they will die back in the winter, but return again next summer. Some of these have been chosen for their exciting seed heads to still maintain interest in the beds when flowering has finished. Shrubs will remain in the beds for their interesting foliage and different flowering times. Again, some of the shrubs are small but give them time and they will grow big and smell beautiful. Watch this space! Gardening is all about patience and looking forward to seeing the change. Also, what you cannot see yet is that the beds have been planted with over 200 beautiful spring bulbs, ready to pop up when the days begin to lengthen and the weather warms. Something to look forward to after a gloomy winter! My full planting plan is available to view on the Parish Council notice board in the window of Victory Hall.
I hope this captures your interest and encourages you to mimic methods used in the community garden beds in your own gardens. The smallest of changes can make the biggest difference and leave your garden buzzing with fascinating wildlife!
I very much hope you like what I have put into these garden beds. I hope I do not disappoint as the full impact will not be immediate but will take time to establish and I hope you enjoy watching the beds grow and change over time. These beds belong to our community and I would welcome your opinion. A few of you will have received my questionnaire for feedback of the beds and which will also help me along in my project; if you have the time to complete them, I would appreciate their return.