Natural Garden News – March 30, 2024

Inside this edition of Natural Garden News

  • A visit to the Barbican
  • Ditch the mulch; plant densely
  • Going beyond pollinators
  • Recommended reading
  • Right now in Haliburton
  • From the socials

I hope you enjoy the newsletter! If you have any questions or feedback, please reply to this email.

Simon Payn

Follow us on the socials!

A visit to the naturistic gardens at the Barbican

I was lucky enough to see the work of the wonderful Nigel Dunnett the other day.

Dunnett, a professor at the University of Sheffield in the UK, has written the excellent book Naturalistic Planting Design, created the Grey to Green urban naturalization project in Sheffield, and, among many other things, designed the naturalistic gardens at London’s Barbican.

It was the Barbican I visited. It’s early spring over in the UK – plenty of greenery but not much colour. But it was still a good time to see the plantings because the lack of colour made me notice the textures. After all, gardens aren’t just about flowers – foliage has a huge role to play.

I talked to a man who was doing some spring maintenance. He told me with a huge smile on his face that he loved the gardens, which were so much more interesting than the grass elsewhere, and whose lushness contrasted with the concrete brutalism of the Barbican. His enthusiasm made me enthusiastic for what I’m doing here in Haliburton County. This is the reaction I want!

Dunnett doesn’t focus on native plants – they’re not a thing in the UK for various cultural and ecological reasons – but he does use naturalistic planting, with density, layers and plant communities. The garden, which is actually on a roof, creates three plant communities, according to the microclimates of each part of the site.

You can see more pictures of the gardens over on my website, from where you can click through to Dunnett’s website to see images of the gardens in the summer too.

Ditch the mulch; plant densely

Natural gardens use a dense matrix of plants that acts as its own “living mulch”. This approach does a better job of mimicking how plants actually behave. Read more.

Going beyond pollinators

The surge in popularity of pollinator gardens is good news. These gardens, teeming with bees, butterflies, and other insects and birds, have become symbols of ecological awareness and conservation. But here at Grounded we go further: we focus not just on pollinators but the whole ecosystem. Read more

Recommended reading

Overgrown? Nancy Lawson urges us to ditch the term “overgrown”, which is sometimes used to describe natural gardens. Perhaps lawns could be described as “undergrown”? Read more.

Re-rewilding: The rewilding movement is gathering pace. But we have to be careful we don’t create even more problems. This is a scientific article, but if you’re not feeling like reading that, the abstract is enough. Read more.

To weed or not to weed? The good and bad of weeding a natural garden, by Benjamin Vogt. Read more.

Get the free guide

I’ve updated my guide to natural gardens in Haliburton County and surrounding areas.

Now booking Spring installs

If you’d like me to come and look at your garden or shoreline, please fill out the inquiry form.

Right now in Haliburton

I know trees don’t get pregnant, but there’s a certain expectant nature to these buds, waiting for spring.

From the local news:

Highlands Corridor: The Land Trust’s efforts to protect a 100,000-hectare parcel of land connecting the Haliburton Highlands to three provincial parks progressed well in 2023. Read more.

Apples of our eyes: If County resident Luba Cargill has her way, Haliburton will soon be competing with New York City over the nickname ‘The Big Apple’. Read more.

Please share me!

If you know someone who might like this newsletter, please forward it to them!

Did someone forward this to you?

Get your own copy by clicking here and adding your email address.

From the socials

Rufus says Happy Easter!

Thank you for reading!


123 Maple Avenue, Haliburton, ON K0M 1S0

Unsubscribe · Preferences