March is not a good month for a garden designer to be without her own garden. Temporarily renting someone else's home and gardenless, I'm an outsider, excluded from all this month's pent up momentum of plant and animal life. Just waiting for the weather to warm up a bit and the days to lengthen and with a seasonal release of energy they'll all be off as if at the bang of the starter's gun. Green shoots bursting through the soil racing upwards towards the light and birds darting through the trees displaying to potential partners, desperate to start nesting. Bumble bees intent on a early start to the year droning heavily between the crocus flowers and my favourite harbingers of spring, the frogs, croaking all night and then frenziedly at it all day. The natural activity in my garden was as important to me and is now just as much missed as the planned seasonal events like seed sowing and planting first early potatoes. It's not been a long time in years but there's been a huge cultural change from my dad's time as a gardener. He still followed the Victorian empire's attitude to nature of conquer and subdue, kindness itself to people he was a lovely man, but when it came to the garden he ruled with an iron fist. Any seedling daring to pop up out of its designated row would be ruthlessly beheaded by the hoe, insects were all considered to be pests and sprayed rigorously and birds, all thought to be 'after the raspberries', were very unwelcome. Starlings were his pet hate because there were 'just too many of them'. He wasn't alone of course, that was just how things were in his day but in mine we are learning from those terrible mistakes. Starling numbers are now down sixty six percent from my dad's 'too many' of the nineteen eighties and last year's RSPB garden birdwatch recorded them in fewer than half our gardens and I don't think it's hard to work out one reason why. Their staple food is leather jackets and many gardeners still thoughtlessly spray their lawns to kill them. Herbicides, pesticides and insecticides are all very readily available in every garden centre but we don't have to buy them. While the government still dithers over whether or not to ban nicotinoid insecticides we can all make our own personal choices and while I don't have a garden of my own I would love to think that there are other people out there gardening for wildlife. I do hope so.