Derelict gardens

by Richard Jones

[...] something like one in five front gardens are never used by their owners, for anything. A quick stroll up the road shows my neighbourhood seems to fit with this.

Brambles growing in an untended front gardenA few weeks ago, I was rather disparaging about some gardens local to me, which are so immaculately laid out, so minimalist, and so trimmed, that they are all but devoid of wildlife. I now intend to take my anti-gardening stance further (this may get me sacked from this blog) by celebrating the worthiness of several other front gardens in the street, which are completely neglected and derelict.

I've dredged up from the back of my mind a statistic (I hope I've got it right) - something like one in five front gardens are never used by their owners, for anything. A quick stroll up the road shows my neighbourhood seems to fit with this quite precisely. There are several gardens which look as if they have not been touched for years. In the summer they are navel-high grass doing fierce battle with brambles. And I'm very thankful for them.

I'm really pleased at the wildlife I see every day in my own back garden. There is always something going on out there, and new things are constantly turning up. The last few days, the fox has been back each morning to sniff around the patio, today we've had wood pigeon, jay, greater-spotted woodpeckers and more squirrels than I can shake a broom at. A few days ago there was still a bumblebee flying (not sure what species, I did not get close enough), a cloud of winter gnats (Trichocera species) were dancing over the middle of the lawn, and several flies were dying like flies around the pond.

I really value my garden wildlife, but I have to admit that it is not all there because I garden especially for wildlife, or that my garden is a wonderful wildlife reserve. I don't, and it's not. The wildlife is there because my garden is part of a much larger block of roughly 100 gardens. And of these, a fair few are completely abandoned by their owners - derelict and overgrown. These are the gardens where wildlife can thrive in complete undisturbed shelter. Thank you non-gardeners, keep up the good/no work.

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Gardeners' World Web User 24/11/2010 at 16:35

Yea, appreciation, at last!

Gardeners' World Web User 24/11/2010 at 16:36

I will tell Peter and the boys!

Gardeners' World Web User 24/11/2010 at 18:44

I filled my front garden many years ago with shrubs, flowers,dwarf? trees and let it get on with attracting the wildlife and weeds in the few spaces. It teems with birds and insects, especially butterflies but I do line my front path with containers colourfully planted which takes passers-by;s attention away from the free-for-all which is the bulk of the garden. The birds have just discovered the pyracantha berries and there is a great crop of ivy berries for later. The great thing about gardens is that you can have what you like - order or neglect or something in between to suit yourself and usually the end result is pleasure for both people and wildlife. Vive la difference as our French neighbours say.

Gardeners' World Web User 25/11/2010 at 06:44

I' m all for wild / neglected gardens but when you see abandoned prams and assorted scrap metal mixed in then it' s not so good.

Gardeners' World Web User 25/11/2010 at 21:14

Every autumn I usually do the annual tidy up and cutting back to make the garden neat and tidy for the winter. Then I kept reading that wildlife needed the seed heads and dying plants etc in your garden, so this year I did not tidy my garden. It is alive with so many birds of all kinds and insects, beetles and ladybirds are still around, all over the plants and eating the seeds. It is lovely to see the antics of the birds as they try to get to the seeds. I am so happy to see so much wildlife coming in and using it, that I can completely ignore how much of a mess it looks. I will never have a tidy winter garden again.

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