We gardeners like to fool ourselves that we make the decisions over what thrives in our gardens and what doesn’t, but in reality nature calls the shots. As gardeners we learn from experience as well as good advice, but we can be very slow on the uptake sometimes repeating the same mistakes and although a few poorly plants won’t be the end of the world, the way some of us cling stubbornly to the use of insecticides and herbicides actually might well be.
We’ve waged war on the natural world we are part of for so long now that many of us believe that the weaponry so readily available in any garden centre is necessary to good gardening. We couldn’t be more wrong.
We dig out every dandelion, essential food for bees and other pollinators, as mere ‘weeds’. As we wield the strimmer, hoe or poison spray how many of us stop to wonder what will happen when the insects are gone, for going they are and with frightening speed.
Over UK farmland alone butterfly species fell by 58% between 2000 and 2009, worldwide 80% of insect biomass has disappeared over the last 25 years. For many of us if we think about the figures at all it is to worry about the pollination of our own food, but what about that of birds, hedgehogs, foxes, badgers, even fish. Without insects our ecology will collapse, but only if we let it.
Enlightened County and Town Councils are changing the way they manage and plant our public spaces and displays and as individuals if we have a garden then we too can play our part.
We must stop thinking of insects as ‘pests’, they are an essential part of the natural world.
We must stop calling our native plant species ‘weeds’, they have flowers rich in pollen and nectar on which insects depend.
Every garden should have a tree, they are the largest plants with the most flowers.
Let’s leave areas of grass to grow long and even a little untidy for insects to overwinter, nature isn’t neat and neither should our gardens be.
Most importantly we must stop poisoning our gardens and the life they are home to, We might think that we can’t halt global insect extinction alone, but if we all stop being part of the problem, we all become part of the solution.