2009 is the year I’m going to sort out my garden. I want to transform it from its current not-terribly-impressive state into a wildlife-friendly, organic kitchen garden I can be proud of. I think it’s going to take some serious work and thought, but I have a feeling it’s going to be worth it!
So, let me tell you what I’m working with. I rent a tiny first floor flat in Islington, north London with my flatmate R. We’ve been living here for just over a year. It’s a busy and noisy area, and the flat is very small, but I absolutely love it. The garden was one of the things that made me fall in love with the place. Well, garden of sorts. It’s actually the roof of the ground floor flat’s kitchen.
It’s 3 metres x 2.8 metres in size, and the view’s quite Mary Poppins, looking out over rooftops and chimney stacks, and also over other peoples’ gardens. There are lots of trees, including a big sycamore tree that towers close by, frequented by several squirrels and often hosts of wood pigeons. The roof gets sun all day long and the sunsets are especially brilliant at this time of year, when the leaves are gone and tree skeletons are silhouetted against glowing winter skies.
At the moment the roof is home to a small table and chairs and several pots of various descriptions. I started experimenting with growing last year and learnt a few important lessons. I had some successes – the sweet peas were a triumph, as were my salad leaves and herbs. The peas, strawberries and tomatoes didn’t fare quite so well… Anyway, at the moment my lavender plants are looking lovely, the heathers are adding some much needed colour and the ivy is slowly turning my fence into a living one. Still, it does look a bit sparse, but I’m looking at it as a blank canvas where great things will happen this year!
As is traditional, I’m dedicating my first month as a wildlife-friendly organic kitchen gardener (!) to planning. This January I’m going to read some books, hatch some plans and maybe buy a few essential tools of the trade during the sales. I really am starting from scratch, last year’s planting was done with a blue plastic spade I picked up in Brighton, more suited to sand than soil. I’m in my mid twenties and have been living in London since I was 18. I’m definitely a city girl but I also love nature and care deeply about protecting the environment. I work for London Wildlife Trust and as a freelance journalist, specialising in wildlife and the environment.
Gardens are incredibly important resources, for people and wildlife. They are more important than ever in the face of climate change – gardens have a crucial role to play in helping us cope with its effects, especially in cities. One fifth of London is made up of gardens, there are over three million of them, covering more than 90,000 acres. That’s a huge amount of space with enormous potential.
I want to transform my rooftop into a wildlife and climate friendly edible garden for both me and the planet! I’ll be writing about my year of aerial gardening on this blog throughout 2009. I hope you enjoy reading about my exploits, and please feel free to get in touch with your comments and advice.
Here’s to a fruitful 2009!