At this time of year, walk around a garden and our eyes are drawn to the emerging spring flowers. We can't help it - we are fascinated by colour and jewel-like things.
So, as I took my early morning garden wander yesterday to prepare me for the day ahead, my eye darted from beauties such as these hyacinths...
...to the dangling flowers of the Stachyurus, a shrub from the Himalayas which is nevertheless a hit with early bumblebees...
...and then to the flowers of the Grevillea, which are bursting out like a hatch of exotic red spiders, and which are also enjoyed by long-tongued pollinators.
But among all these distractions, I stopped to think about foliage. There is a lot of attention given to pollinating insects, but the vast majority of garden insects actually rely on other plant material. Most of our moths and all of our butterflies only reach adulthood by feeding on leaves when they are caterpillars. It is these caterpillars that in turn will feed our garden birds and bats.
So, to achieve a wildlife-friendly garden, aiming for a garden full of foliage is in many ways as important as one full of flowers.
This green feast is just starting to emerge. Yesterday, there was good fresh growth emerging on my climbing rose, Rosa 'Seagull'.
But my fruit trees, such as this Conference Pear, are still at flower bud stage with no sign of leaves.
And taking a long shot of part of the garden and you can see how far there is to go for the world to turn green, but you also get the sense that this picture will turn almost wholly green.
It is why gardens like this following one, which I photographed at the Chelsea Flower Show a few years ago, always make my heart sink. This is effectively a piece of our precious world that has been turned into the surface of the Moon; almost all life has been removed and permanently excluded.
I've just reviewed this year's show garden designs for Chelsea for Garden Answers magazine, and the good news is that almost all of them talk about 'biodiversity' and 'the environment' and 'sustainability', all are packed with foliage, and none look like the garden above.
Increasingly we are realising that gardens have a big part to play in saving nature. Maxing the plants is, for me, the Number One simple thing you can do to help wildlife. So, yes, enjoy your flowers, help the pollinators, but always think., "How can I add more green?"
here, here about the former Chelsea garden. Sometimes think people don't like life or living things, only dead stuff that they can control.
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