However much we love a certain plant, flower or tree in our gardens, we should also be asking ourselves – what function will this have within my eco-system? All plants are multi-functional in many ways, so it makes sense for a garden designer to plan out a new landscape as a mini eco-system, with every plant in the right place.
While my design aesthetic is to create the ultimate in luxury, I also bring into play the ecology of the surrounding landscape.
What are the functions of plants?
Climatically, plants are important, as we all know. As our climate changes, we must also think ahead to choose plants that can both withstand drier periods as well as longer, wetter periods. Trees and plants provide shade, lower temperatures, and absorb CO2. They also absorb excess storm water, and their root systems create an anchor during flooding.
In terms of biodiversity, more plants equal more animals and insects. By choosing both native plants, and plants that suit our changing climate, we can encourage even more wildlife to our outdoor areas.
Research has consistently shown that greenery, trees and plants are all beneficial to our well-being. This is one of the functions that we should not discount.
Pictured above is the gold award winning 2017 Tatton Flower Show garden which is a futuristic look at how plants can be functional within a fast-changing climate.
Have you considered a small pond?
Ponds can be a brilliant addition for even the smallest gardens. From a large dug-out lined pond through to a small sunken Belfast sink, small areas of water will help sustain wildlife of all types.
Anyone who does have a pond in their garden could be starting to see frogspawn around now. Frogs actually spend most of their time out of the water, hiding in log piles or behind stones, venturing into water or ponds to lay their eggs.
If you add a couple of oxygenating plants to a pond and make sure there is easy access via slopes, you will very quickly see frogspawn, newts and perhaps dragonflies in your garden. A great pleasure from such a few simple steps!
The RHS has lots of information about wildlife ponds:
I absolutely love that this hospital in rural Bangladesh has won a RIBA International Prize. A zig-zagging canal collects valuable rainwater during the wet season, which also cools the courtyard in the very hot temperatures. Rising sea levels have changed the landscape dramatically and the groundwater is now too saline to use as drinking water. Rainwater harvesting is key to the functionality of the building, but is also creates a stunning landscape feature, created with locally-made bricks.
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