Cast your mind back to spring last year and the first lockdown. No ‘hum of traffic’ and blue skies absent of planes. Whether your mandate was to work from home, or your paycheques arrived courtesy of Rishi Sunak, suddenly many of us had time to stop and recalibrate our lives. Whilst some joined the nation’s PE teacher Joe Wickes for a morning workout, others took on a DIY project. Those lucky enough to have gardens picked up a trowel and began planting as they reconnected with their outdoor spaces and the nature within them.
It is no surprise that back in May 2020 searches for homes with gardens on Rightmove was up 84% for renters and 42% for buyers compared to the same month last year. At Spencers New Forest it was a similar pattern with prospective buyers pushing ‘outside space’ higher up their wish list and as the region’s leading estate agents, we’re lucky to be blessed with properties that boast healthy plots of land, that back onto the national park or neighbour rivers and water.
However, the trend for perfectly manicured lawns with military precision stripes or immaculate rose beds is changing, today’s generation of green-fingered gardeners are going back to nature and letting their imaginations and outside spaces run a little wilder.
Perhaps being spurred on by worrying changes to our climate, the opportunity to ‘do our bit’ for the environment by adding more diversity to our gardens is a hot topic and one that even the godfather of gardening, Monty Don, has embraced. This new set of gardeners are creating a welcoming environment for the beasts and bugs that share our world by re-wilding their outdoor spaces.
Even the smallest of outside spaces filled with pots of wildflowers or lavender can make a difference. They provide a ‘service station’ for bees or birds to grab a rest and a quick feed before continuing their travels. Trees and shrubs that blossom in the spring and bear fruit in the autumn support a rich abundance of wildlife and an ecosystem that has flourished long before man invented the cement mixer.
Visits to the RSPB website increased by 69% year-on-year in March to May 2020 with 79% of those users being new to their website. In the same period, the RSPB recorded a tenfold increase in views of its Build a bird box web page and those of us with more construction ambition created ‘bug hotels’.
Various flowers provide a range of pollen and nectar for a range of insects. Letting dandelions, poppies, clover, or daises – weeds in many a gardener’s book – run wild is not everyone’s idea of a perfect garden, the idea of conceding control to part of a garden and letting the unexpected grow naturally is on-trend.
Adding a pond is perhaps the single best thing we can do to support wildlife in our gardens. A tiny pond will quickly become a haven for frogs, voles, or hedgehogs. It gives birds a chance for a quick drink or to clean their dusty wings and along with wildflowers, hedgerows brimming with berries it helps add a rich diversity for insects, birds, or other creatures.