With the growing recognition that a wisely and sensitively planted garden has a lot to offer to wildlife and the food web, more and more people are looking for ways to make their gardens environmentally friendly. However, gardeners have tended to assume that to create habitats for wildlife, and evoke wild and natural places, you need a lot of space. In Natural Gardening in Small Spaces, renowned plantsman Noel Kingsbury refutes that presumption, showing how even in a small garden you can create a sustainable ecosystem that looks great --- and, once established, largely looks after itself.
He first explains how plant communities work and what this means for the gardener, then proceeds to examine the various types of natural habitat that can offer inspiration to the small-space gardener. If your garden is shady, you can take natural woodland as your model: think of wild flowers carpeting the ground in spring, ferns and mosses growing lushly in the moister spots. In a more open position, you might consider planting a miniature wildflower meadow, or a late-flowering prairie, in place of a conventional lawn. Gardening on thin dry soil in exposed conditions can initially seem a thankless task, but windswept heath, sun-baked scrub, rocky cliffs offer a home to some of the most beautiful and dramatic plants of all. Looking to the wetlands, even the tiniest garden pool can be an ecosystem in miniature. And of all environments the woodland edge, the meeting place of the cool enclosed world of the forest and open, sunlit grasslands, offers perhaps the most useful source of inspiration for the small natural garden.
A chapter on the practicalities deals with such issues as how to garden without watering, using mulches to minimize the growth of weeds and the loss of water, and boosting opportunities for wildlife with bird boxes and mammal hibernation sites; while a detailed plant directory lists the best plants for natural gardens, chosen for beauty, ease of growth and adaptability, and use for wildlife. Over 150 glorious photographs of small natural gardens provide visual evidence of Noel Kingsbury's contention that event the smallest garden can provide a natural haven.