Daphne Ledward, Garden Planner, Gardener, Author and Broadcaster

DAPHNE'S COLUMN

BEING GREEN, WILDLIFE GARDENS, AN OLIVE TREE


The comparatively recent trend to view mankind as a small part of the planet as a whole hasnít come a moment too soon to someone who forty years ago - the era of mass greenfield development, uprooting of hedges, spraying of roadside verges so the weeds didnít spread into neighbouring crops, and of generally destroying everything that might have a detrimental effect on the supreme right of the human being to survive at all costs - was convinced that the Earth and all thereon were doomed.

Now, being Ďgreení has somehow become a huge issue. The scourges of the Sixties have somehow morphed into the desirables of the new Millennium, and bee friendly plants, bug friendly gardens, bird friendly bushes, Britain-friendly species, seemed to have become a completely different concern from the plain old gardening we used to know.

I confess that I didnít set out to attract wildlife to our garden, which is now pushing thirty years old. The plants arrived because I like them, the small pond was dug because I love the reflection of the sky in the water, I planted small trees to give a third dimension to a small plot.

It was only recently, while taking a few moments to drink a coffee outside that it suddenly came home to me that more or less by accident I had achieved what a whole industry has sprung up to provide.

The humming of countless bees of all types as they visited the columbines and violas was almost as loud as the A16 a couple of hundred yards up the road. From time to time there was a plop as one of the innumerable frogs that obviously prefer high density living took a quick dip in the puddle I call our pond. The calls of baby birds came from all corners Ė their parents, who take regular baths in the millstone water feature, spurn the nesting boxes we provide, preferring, instead, the noisiest, most regularly disturbed, unlikeliest places they can find to build their nests.

Any garden can be a wildlife garden. Wild creatures have the capability of turning most situations to their advantage. At this stage in the salvation of the planet it is enough that they still exist to visit us at all.



Question

I have an olive tree which lost all its leaves in the hard winter. I trimmed off the dead twigs but there still seem to be no signs of life. Shall I take it out?

Never remove a seemingly dead plant in haste. My own olive tree first produced the odd buds, low down on the branches, at the end of May and they were very difficult to spot at first. I would discard nothing that seems to have succumbed to the winter until the tissue under the bark is no longer green Ė this may mean waiting several weeks yet.

Daphne Ledward

This piece originally appeared in the Spalding Guardian