Wild Wanstead part II

Wildlife-friendly gardeningWildlife-friendly gardening

In the second of a series of articles charting the Wild Wanstead project – which aims to transform Wanstead into a multi-garden nature reserve – award-winning gardener Mark Lonergan explains how you can help green up the local area with some wildlife-friendly garden containers.

I think we can safely say it's spring and memories of snowmen on Christchurch Green are fading. With the hope of a long summer ahead, it's a good time to think about greening up your garden – even if you only have a window ledge.

Adding plants to the places we live has enormous benefits. A container, planted up by your front door, looks great, will cheer you up every time you see it, is really easy to do and adds a significant benefit to the environment. Wild Wanstead's ambition to create London's first multi-garden nature reserve and, in particular, the aim of bringing back pollinators to our gardens is worth all our support.

To show how quick and easy it can be, I have put together a few container-planting ideas you can try out. If you water them and do a bit of deadheading, you'll have colour for months to come.

A few simple tips to help your plants thrive:

  • If you are reusing pots, make sure they are clean. A dirty pot is the perfect home for slugs and snails, so give them a wash first.
  • If you are buying a new pot, also buy a dish for it to sit in at the same time to help conserve water.
  • Don't reuse old compost. Fresh compost will provide all the food your plants need to sustain them during the coming months, so give them a good home.
  • Water the plants well before removing them from their pots. And then don't allow the compost to dry out, remember to water regularly, especially when it hasn't rained.
  • Deadhead every time you think of it to promote flowering all summer long.
  • If you are going on holiday, don't panic. If you don't have a helpful neighbour, give your containers a really good water before you go and move them to the shadiest location you have. If you can, put your pots in a container to act as a water bath, which will also help collect rainwater.

Whatever you do, don't overcomplicate it. Buy some plants you like, put them in a pot of good quality compost and keep them watered. If we all do that, Wanstead will be a greener, more pleasant place for all.

For more plant inspiration, follow Mark on Instagram @gone_gardening_again. For more information on the Wild Wanstead project and ideas for wildlife-friendly plants, visit wildwanstead.org

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