Trendy gar­dens

To­day’s per­fect, and trendy, gar­den con­tains green walls, re­cy­cled wa­ter and so­lar pan­els, as well as food plants mixed in with flow­ers

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - KAY MONT­GOMERY

THE IDEAL gar­den of a decade or two ago bears no re­sem­blance to the ideal gar­den of to­day. The harsh re­al­i­ties of ur­ban spread, dwin­dling wa­ter re­sources and the call by cli­mate change sci­en­tists to re­duce en­ergy con­sump­tion has had a sig­nif­i­cant ef­fect on gar­den trends and has rev­o­lu­tionised the con­cept of the “per­fect” gar­den.

If you want to be ul­tra-trendy and help save the planet, now is the time to re-think your gar­den de­sign. Here are a few ideas:

● Cre­ate an eco-friendly gar­den Ur­ban ex­pan­sion and eco­log­i­cal con­ser­va­tion seem mu­tu­ally in­com­pat­i­ble, but re­search by ecol­o­gist Kevin Gas­ton of the Uni­ver­sity of Sh­effield has proved that wildlife­friendly city gar­dens can make a big dif­fer­ence. “If only 20 per­cent of ur­ban gardeners de­cide to do some­thing eco-friendly, for ex­am­ple, plant a tree or two in­stead of putting in wall-to-wall paving – it makes a huge dif­fer­ence,” he says.

● Con­serv­ing wa­ter and en­ergy Wast­ing wa­ter and en­ergy is “out”. The lat­est fash­ion is to in­stall a 5 000 or 10 000 litre tank to cap­ture rain­wa­ter off your roof. The tank is then con­nected to your gar­den ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem via a pump.

“When the wa­ter in the tank runs out, the sys­tem kicks over to mu­nic­i­pal wa­ter,” says land­scaper Colin Thomp­son. “Not only is this eco­nom­i­cal, but rain­wa­ter is very good for the gar­den as op­posed to mu­nic­i­pal wa­ter. Rain car­ries many nu­tri­ents and is struc­tured dif­fer­ently to mu­nic­i­pal wa­ter which has been pro­cessed and cleaned so much that plants get much less nutri­tion. Look at the gar­den af­ter a good thun­der­storm. It is so much greener.” (In­ter­ested in in­stalling a wa­ter tank in your gar­den? Go to www.jo­jotanks.co.za or www.stew­art­san­dl­loyds.co.za).

Adam Pasco, ed­i­tor of a top Bri­tish gar­den­ing mag­a­zine, says gardeners must look se­ri­ously at con­vert­ing to so­lar power in their gar­dens. “As so­lar pan­els im­prove in ef­fi­ciency and drop in price, gardeners will see them avail­able for many more uses, in ad­di­tion to gar­den and shed lighting and pow­er­ing pumps in wa­ter fea­tures.”

● Plant a green wall With cli­mate change now re­garded as the big­gest is­sue mankind has ever faced, green walls are high fash­ion. Sim­ply put, green walls are cov­ered with plant­ings.

They are be­ing planned into city of­fice block de­sign to ab­sorb car­bon diox­ide.

Green-walling is a way in which dense ur­ban ar­eas can help cut the amount of car­bon diox­ide in the at­mos­phere. There is also the proven ben­e­fit that cladding the walls and roof of a large build­ing with plants re­duces en­ergy con­sump­tion by keep­ing the in­te­rior cooler in sum­mer and warmer in win­ter, in each case by 3°C to 5°C.

Ur­ban gardeners are also en­cour­aged to have creeper-clad walls or “vertical gar­dens” con­tain­ing wa­ter smart plants.

● Grow your own

Linked to the sus­tain­able gar­den­ing trend is the “grow your own” move­ment – es­pe­cially as veg­etable, fruit and herb prices rise.

The home­grown trend can also in­clude plant­ing ed­i­ble plants in or­na­men­tal flower bor­ders, such as pan­sies, nas­tur­tiums, day lilies and ‘Bright Lights’ Swiss chard with its at­trac­tive coloured stems in shades of yel­low, pur­ple and red. Chilli plants also look great among peren­ni­als and an­nu­als.

UP AND AWAY: The ‘Vertical De­light’ show gar­den at the re­cent Gar­den World Spring Show in Gaut­eng demon­strates how to cre­ate a low main­te­nance wa­ter-wise gar­den with a wall of plants con­verted into a wa­ter fea­ture.

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