Natural garden: the wilderness in front of the house
A garden is cultivated nature, a space that can only be created by human technology. Without human intervention, it is not a garden. This also applies to the natural or wild garden. But what distinguishes it from the traditional garden are the goals and methods. Natural gardens are said to increase biodiversity and offer many habitats for animals and plants.
All structures are included
All structures are included: green roofs, hedges with sloe or hawthorn, for example, walls made of layered stones, dead wood, compost, old trees, even the gravel or stone paths.
But the natural garden is not a completely dynamic nature. Rather, the gardener tries to create an (artificial) balance. It pushes back dominant species such as blackberries, it places attractive flowering plants in exposed places for humans, and it uses the natural enemies of those species that threaten the species that it wants to have in the garden.
Natural garden does not mean private garden
You are not limited to private gardens. Road edges, traffic islands, even tree grates and green strips alongside pedestrian paths are just as suitable for this as industrial and commercial areas.
The idea of the natural garden
Today, a natural garden is above all a garden for native plants, which also provides a habitat for rare animal species, but is also cared for and cared for as a garden.
The historic natural or wild garden was also a carefully designed “wilderness”, but in the 19th century it was not about protecting native wild plants, because they were still available everywhere and in large quantities before industrialization.
Instead, the wild gardeners cultivated exotic plants, combined them with native ones and created a harmonious ensemble that was supposed to appear “informal” in order to allow nature to develop.
These game gardens broke with the strict geometric forms of the Baroque, which, like the whip of the lion tamer, symbolized that man ruled nature, plants and animals.
The romantic wilderness
William Robinson (1838-1935), an Irish gardener, developed the concept of these free gardens. His book "The Wild Garden" from 1870 is still considered the standard work of the natural garden. Robinson wrote: “I would like to show that we can perhaps bring out the beauty of our diverse, hardy flowers even better than the enthusiastic followers of the old horticultural style can dream of: namely by growing innumerable, beautiful wild plants from many different countries in introduce our forests and groves to the less carefully designed and maintained parts of parks and to the unused areas of almost all types of garden. "
The first gardens according to Robinson's suggestions corresponded to fern gardens and grottos. They represented a rural contrast to the precisely laid out beds and served for relaxation.
Robinson specifically used plants that were not considered “good enough” for the pruned upper class gardens, including peony, delphinium and lily.
Robinson's idea prevailed. The “romantic wilderness” became an integral part of the city's gardens and parks. However, favorite plants of the “wild gardeners” at the time, such as magnolias, rhodendrons or laurel rose, are considered a no-go among today's purists of the organic garden because they are exotic plants that offer little food for domestic insects or birds.
The cottage garden
Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932) was also a pioneer. She loved the farmer's gardens, which were considered inferior by the then upper class, and which people who buy old farmhouses rebuild with great effort today.
What was new about her model, however, was that it combined exotic garden plants and farm flowers and harmonized them aesthetically. In doing so, she warned against indiscriminately putting together plants that firstly had different requirements and secondly did not convey a harmonious picture.
She wrote: “Mindless people can easily come to the wrong conclusion that any garden plant can be planted in any pristine landscape. I have already seen a number of forest areas that were already perfect in their delightful simplicity, but were subsequently defaced by the thoughtless planting of new species. ”
However, she wanted to create a smooth transition. Forest and garden should no longer be strictly separated, an idea that also characterizes today's natural garden. She wrote: “A few mullein here, a few thimbles there, because it is nice when the garden can still be seen in the adjacent forest. In this way, the two can be more harmoniously connected. "
Garden against wilderness
It is crucial that Robinson and Jekyll Garten no longer stood against nature as they did in the grand estates of the 18th century. Anyone who visits Baroque and Rococo gardens today, as in Versailles, Sanscoussi or Hanover Herrenhausen, will recognize this essential difference.
The hedges trimmed to the centimeter, the sculptures and pavilions, the beds in the shape of stars, circles, curves or squares do not allow wild growth. They stand in conscious contrast to the meadows, forests or swamps that were still omnipresent when these rulers' parks were created.
It should be made clear here that people design. For example, the absolutist rulers in France explicitly arranged Versailles to demonstrate the power of the God-King over culture, animals in the menagerie, and plants in the parks.
Gertrude Jekyll's contribution to the modern garden, however, did not consist in “leaving everything to its own devices”. On the contrary, she introduced the cottage garden to garden art.
The farm gardens were set up according to their usefulness. A central path with branches served to easily reach the herbs planted. The farmers planted useful vegetables as well as medicinal and aromatic herbs. To limit the garden, they laid stones on top of each other to form dry walls.
Sage, wormwood and thyme, borage and chives, fennel or mint also bloomed beautifully and offered plenty of food for insects, but the farmers did not care for them for aesthetic or ecological reasons, but for consumption. For the same reason, they let raspberries, bromine, blueberries and strawberries thrive.
Flowering plants such as cornflower, willow herb or yarrow came naturally. In the shady areas, ferns and ivy settled. Hawthorn, sloe or mountain ash, bird cherry or holly offered natural hedges that the farmers only cut into shapes.
In Jekyll's tradition, however, gardeners cultivated such farm gardens and also planted exotic plants. But while in the “real” building gardens the garden character was created because the farmers used these gardens for kitchen and medicine, the game gardeners carefully put an apparent disorder into the limelight - they did not leave nature free, but created the illusion of an aesthetic wilderness professionally .
The eco garden
The romantic wilderness is an integral part of the idea. But unlike Jekyll's time, exotic species are frowned upon today. The garden is supposed to be a refuge for domestic animals and plants.
Thanks to intensive agriculture, many domestic field and meadow plants are now rare. Some have disappeared or are in danger of extinction.
Such ecological gardens are an important resource for nature and species conservation today. In fact, the diversity of animal species in urban allotment gardens is greater today than in the cleared agricultural landscape and urban garden parks have even developed into a refuge for many species that only came to Central Europe in the course of small-scale agriculture in early modernity.
Some exotic animals help animals
However, many organic gardeners see the separation between the exotic and the local to be dogged. For example, rhododendrons do not provide food for native animals, but they do offer hiding places and breeding grounds for birds; The most important forage plant for birds in this country is the North American sunflower and the exotic Buddleia provides valuable food for butterflies. Fruit-eating birds love figs as well as apples.
Awareness of nature and species conservation has increased in western countries in recent decades. Even the allotment gardeners known as spies with lethal injection no longer correspond to the cliché.
Gardens can provide refuge for flowers that once grew everywhere, like corn poppy or corn poppy. With careful preparation, for example, open spaces in which no blackberries proliferate, native plants settle more and more by themselves. Natural gardeners report over 300 native species on an area of 400 square meters.
The animal-friendly garden
Foliage-rich perennials, climbing and creeping plants provide shelter for animals. A dry stone wall made of stacked field stones gives various insects a home, including the endangered wild bumblebee and bees. Sand lizards feel at home here, birds find food.
Simple systems are vital for animals and are often missing in "modern" gardens. A flat bowl serves as a bird bath. An open mud site provides nesting material for swallows and swifts.
A heap of brushwood or dead wood is not an eyesore in the organic garden, but vital for hedgehogs and mice, toads and newts, wasps, bees and bumblebees, wren and hedge brown.
Pay attention to food plants
In domestic and exotic gardens, you should take a close look at which plants offer food for animals. Many butterflies and insects, for example, specialize in individual species: The American type of foxglove, for example, can only use a fraction of the insects that control the domestic species.
Old fruit trees not only provide starlings, thrushes, hedgehogs and insects with fruit - they also offer numerous nesting opportunities, sitting areas and flowers for nectar eaters. Typical types of open orchards that are very threatened today include, for example, little owl and hoopoe.
Provide nesting and living boxes. They are available in different sizes and with different entry holes for various types of birds: the endangered garden red tail prefers, for example, an oval opening, tree runners need side slots through which they hatch in tree hollows in nature, cabbage and blue tits use round entry holes of different sizes; Star boxes are larger and have larger holes due to the size of the birds. There are also boxes for tawny owls and kestrels, but for this your garden should have the appropriate size and an old tree population for the owls.
At the house you can attach artificial nests for swallows as well as half-caves for red tails or sparrow boxes. Wren need small boxes with semicircular openings: However, they are also served with a dense hedge.
There are also special boxes for bats, insect hotels, shelters for hedgehogs and other small mammals.
A natural garden not only serves the animals, but also for relaxation. It helps against stress and relaxes. Stylish gardens, in which wild plants are sprayed away, a single type of grass and two accurately cut trees demonstrate order, especially disappoint children.
You intuitively notice: something is missing here. Moss, daisies, even dandelions here and there, are not weeds, but give the garden exactly this missing something. If you do without weed killers, you will soon find that you are feeling well.
The city is becoming colorful
You don't just have to let your garden “overgrow”, but you still determine which plants you find beautiful. Garden owners are often no longer aware of the beauty of native plants: a yellow-flowered gorse enchants a barren pebble surface, fern sprouting from the wall of a backyard ensures a mystical experience, mullein on a stone path brings color to the big city.
Garden as therapy
The therapeutic benefit can hardly be overestimated. The animals and plants bring particular joy to people who spend a lot of time at home: people with disabilities, old people and children.
Think of Harry Potter, the places glorified by the romantic poets: haunted arbors, ivy-covered walls, or hidden ponds. Walled monastery gardens, vacant lots inspire the imagination.
In the natural garden, flowered perennials remain throughout the winter, because the seeds offer food, insects and larvae shelter to many animals, especially in the cold season.
A real wild garden offers the months of blossoms of individual flowers such as the cultivars of petunias, for example. Nevertheless, you can enjoy an arrangement with flowers from spring to autumn.
You can arrange your plants so that the view is on the flowering one, or create different corners with early and late bloomers that offer changing ensembles over the course of the months.
Therapeutically, he sets the course that affects the psyche and the perception of our environment by creating new patterns in the synapses. A traditional poison gardener thinks, feels and acts destructively - right down to the language.
He uses most of his energy to destroy, fight and destroy. Terms such as weeds and vermin testify to this necrophilic energy. Cutting, chopping, mowing and digging - he uses up his excess energy in the fight against something.
We spend much of our time watching how life grows, how it asserts itself. We create hiding places, protected corners and plants against the wind - instead of destroying, we invest energy to create a balance in the natural dynamics.
A garden sometimes creates more than “real nature”. It requires careful care. Without human intervention, the most dominant plants will prevail: in a few years, the formerly free area will consist of blackberry tendrils; Flower meadows are left behind.
In contrast to "natural nature", on the other hand, you can enable different biological habitats in a small area. A wild hedge fits into a large garden as well as a mini forest, a wildflower meadow, a pond or a swamp bed, a butterfly hill and a rock garden. There is also an herbal oasis and a fern wall, for example.
Such small habitats such as ponds, meadows and hedges are of great importance today. They disappear from the cleared landscape. Almost all amphibians today suffer from the loss of temporary bodies of water that dry up in the summer months and thus kill the predators of tadpoles, fish and dragonfly larvae.
Light water pond and leaf pile
In the past, there were such quantities of temporarily dried-up water: wild gravel pits, cattle troughs on pastures or natural valleys. Most of them arose from minor human intervention: tree frog and midwife toad, natterjack toad and garlic toad lay their eggs here.
These species are now threatened with extinction - and the midwife toad has one of its last occurrences in the Hanover / Steinhuder Meer region of all places in an old cattle-drinking basin.
A light water pond in the garden helps these endangered species. It should be sunny and, unlike the classic garden pond, should not have a deep water zone, i.e. it should not be deeper than 50 cm.
In the classic goldfish pond only the green frogs and the common toad (whose spawning is poisonous for fish) can reproduce.
A compost heap, a hedge, a mound of earth and a pile of dead wood provide habitat for the adult amphibians.
Foliage is not brought to the dump by natural gardeners, but left in a heap in the garden in winter. Hedgehogs can spend the winter here, for the common toad it is a paradise.
You can protect endangered plants by planting them in the garden. Checkerboard flower, yellow narcissus and lady's slipper have become rare with us, for example.
Better than television
Such mini-biotopes reward them richly. Whilst the poison garden remains sterile, whole flocks of birds come into the natural garden. In autumn the finches gather on the blooming flowers, grosbeak, starlings and juniper thrushes look for the fruit trees, and in winter whole flocks of birds settle on the berry bushes.
Ideal trees that provide food for birds are mountain ash, bird cherry, sloe, apple, cherry, quince, plum and cone cones, and vine tendrils, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries are also ideal.
A single pasture offers numerous insects pollen and nectar, hoverflies, moths or butterflies. Birds later use the fluff of the seeds for their nests.
It doesn't have to look "messy". If you like orderly flower discounts you can also plant butterfly bushes there.
Do not think that you need a lot of space for such model biotopes. You can create a large garden pond in a large garden. However, if you only have an allotment garden, a backyard or a balcony, you don't have to do without a wetland.
The swamp bed
You can create a swamp bed in a small garden: mortar tubs and buckets from the hardware store are suitable for this. You put them in a hole and fill the earth around. Then fasten the edge with stones, branches and bark.
Now you can plant aquatic plants in the tub and moisture-loving plants around the "pond". For example, marsh marigold, swan flower, calamus, waterdost, meadowsweet, the beautifully blooming marsh sword lily, pennywort, loosestrife, water feather, water mint, buttercup or arrow herb are suitable. The edge can be planted with chives, with elven herb or royal fern.
Depending on the plant, you not only create a green oasis, but also a colorful display. The marsh marigold, for example, blooms yolk yellow, the water feather pale purple, the marsh forget-me-not cobalt blue. The faucet foot shimmers white, the loosestrife shines with spike-like flowers in purple.
Plants for bees and butterflies
Bees and butterflies are threatened by pesticides. We create relief for them in the natural garden.
Suitable for these animals are: columbine, heather. Purple loosestrife, dost, knapweed and bluebells, daisies, carnation, ragwort, Günsel, heather, autumn timeless, locust apple, clover, mullein, linseed, mint, yarrow, sloe, cowslip, butterfly bush, soapwort, gorse, thyme and lemon, willow, lemon, willow .
Food for birds and other animals
The following plants offer seeds and fruits for birds and other animals: birch, bittersweet nightshade, thistles, mountain ash, ivy, yew, strawberry tree, honeysuckle, hazel, elderberry, pine, cherry, buckthorn, lauckraut, privet, man's blood, painful root, snowball, silk bast , Holly, starwort, forget-me-not, weaving card, hawthorn, arum and beet.
The herb garden
A natural garden is also ideal for creating a herb corner, whether as a herb spiral, as a raised bed or in boxes. Domestic herbs are generally undemanding and can be easily extracted from seeds.
You can enrich your kitchen with freshly picked herbs. However, the different herbs have different requirements: caraway, for example, needs full sun, as well as fennel, chives love the partial shade.
Lemon balm loves full sun, but then spreads strongly, as does mint; Thyme loves the sun and well-drained soil, peppermint slightly moist soil, valerina prefers moist meadows.
Sage grows very well on normal soil and almost overgrows. Mediterranean herbs such as rosemary and oregano also feel at home in the garden. They turn out to be hardy, but need sunny places.
It is paradoxical: Many city dwellers buy lettuce in the supermarket in order to eat healthy, but throw it in the organic waste that could feed a whole family in India. Most people are no longer aware that supposed weeds are valuable additions to the kitchen.
Giersch, for example, grows everywhere in the garden and can be prepared in a similar way to spinach, and delicious salad can be made from dandelion and chickweed.
Planning a game garden
A natural garden is developing. If you want to create it from scratch, take a look at the property first. How is the floor Acidic, normal or alkaline? Is it generally damp or dry? Sunny or shady?
Get an overview of which wild plants grow on the property. Don't just tear out anything that “doesn't fit”. Did you buy a cleared property? Then wait and see which plants will sprout there in spring.
Is the soil very poor in nutrients? Then try a water garden, a pond or a swamp bed. Under such conditions, aquatic and swamp plants grow better than land plants.
Or you can make a virtue of necessity, the barren soil and create a gravel garden. A variant would be a rock garden. Many special plants quickly settle there. Lark spur, for example, likes to grow between stones.
Create a natural garden
The type of soil on your property is important and it helps to decide which plants are suitable. But other important factors come to earth: wind and wind protection, drainage and the location.
You don't have to do anything to put it on: do not use chemical-synthetic pesticides, no easily soluble mineral fertilizers and no peat.
Do not buy hybrids, they usually have special requirements that their natural garden does not offer; they lack the gene pool and are not very resistant.
Instead, purchase native plants with requirements that your garden offers, so that fertilizing and watering are also eliminated.
The basic rules of the natural garden
1) Adapt your plantings to the location, not the location to the plants.
2) Use predominantly native wild plants, i.e. plants that have been established here for centuries. Make sure that the seeds are ecologically sound. Don't be afraid of neozoa like the sunflower, but avoid invasive neozoa.
3) Plant and promote plants that offer specialized insect species nectar. In addition, rely on timed flowering and fruiting phases so that the animals find food all year round.
4) Use ecological building materials, untreated wood from Europe, natural gravel, natural sand and natural stones. As little plastic as possible! In the natural garden, use as much building material from the garden itself as possible: The branch cut from the fruit trees, for example, offers an excellent setting for a raised bed or a limitation for paths; the compost becomes excellent soil; Stones from digging can be used for a dry stone wall or a barbecue area and on a residual log after sawing off you can create a bird feeder. You can also use branch cut, dead wood and bark to build nesting boxes.
5) Nature means change. Not every natural dynamic is prevented in the garden, but rather controlled. The wild garden is changing, that is its essence. They only mow, trim the hedges or rake the paths so far that the garden structure is preserved.
But: If plants sow themselves, tolerate or promote this in the natural garden. You can even support this process with mowing, cutting hedges or chopping, for example by not only allowing flowers that spread themselves, such as daisies, to dig out the self-sown plants from other parts of the grass area in certain places and plant in these places. In other parts, you sometimes mow and support flowers that require short lawns and cannot withstand the dominant flowers.
The dead stems will remain until next spring.
6) The bottom remains intact. Poison deposits are an exception. If your floor is contaminated with asbestos, for example, you should definitely remove it. However, a natural gardener does not remove any soil or swap it to a large extent to settle exotic plants - a natural garden is not a rainforest terrarium.
Instead, they promote the soil with compost humus, natural mulch and intermediate seeds.
7) Natural gardening means minimizing energy. Leaf vacuum cleaners are a no go. Covering garden lighting stands in the way of the idea of a natural garden. Natural gardeners mainly use rainwater for watering.
8) "Pest" is a term that the wild garden does not know. If necessary, promote the predators of the lice, caterpillars or voles or skillfully settle plants that drive out such herbivores.
In general, damage to plants is part of exactly the natural processes that they want in the garden.
9) Use the garden for the garden: for example, nettles can be used to make good manure that serves as a natural fertilizer. Organic remains such as withered leaves or dead perennials enrich the soil. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)
In the second part "The natural garden - forest, water or meadow?" You can read:
- flower meadows and lawns
- forest gardens
- Fern and deciduous gardens
- water gardens
- rock gardens
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Stevenson, Violet: The natural garden: With plant catalog. Plant, cultivation, care (green row), mosaic, 1995