The Gardener's CornerPractically every seminar I attend lately deals with the issues of sustainable gardening in one way or another. It involves integrated environmental, social and economic factors to create a sustainable future. Renewable resources are encouraged, ultimately leaving a smaller carbon footprint.
Cities and towns tend to grow where years ago there were natural resources. Distinctive locations along waterfront became harbours and settlements sprang up along communication routes. Canada is an urban country with eighty percent of the people living in cities and towns. After taking from the land for so long, sustainable development began as an idea in the late eighties.
However, just as it takes time and years for a human to grow, so does it for a sustainable landscape to develop.
Returning the landscape to how it was has an impact on health as research has shown a link between urban green space and reduced crime rates which encourages an improvement in social functioning.
Have you heard of the term ‘nature deficit disorder’? A phrase coined by Richard Louv in his book ‘Last Child in the Woods’ is about children of today who have diminished use of their senses. The book has touched off a revolution to get kids back outside to play more and spend less time indoors on technological gadgets.
A province wide program called ‘Back to Nature Network’ has been founded to deal with the nature deficit disorder. Funded by a provincial Trillium grant, the Royal Botanical Gardens is onboard.
Also a ‘Sustainable Sites Initiative’ has been implemented as a guide for landscapers to follow. One important element of it is the return of ravines to their natural state or to at least create artificial wetlands which will help cope with spring flooding.
A pilot project in New Zealand is in place to allow native weeds to thrive as long as they do not become aggressive. Think of how many of our beneficial insects that has evolved and depend on them, something we could consider as well.
By watching how nature works, it can be used as a guide and bogs have proven to be excellent filters for water runoff. Bio retention gardens are a way some communities are mimicking nature. New subdivisions are built without curbs or gutters which means no storm sewers.
Instead, a system of gardens is constructed where water can flow slowly through them to creeks and rivers. This increases biodiversity and helps to filter the water before reaching the waterways. The most astonishing aspect is that builders could save around $8000 per home. This isn’t a far-fetched ideal; it is already in practice in Guelph and Ottawa.
As we become more aware of water runoff from the concrete jungles man has created, there is a light on the horizon. Manufacturers are developing permeable concrete and asphalt to return water to the land instead of down a storm drain.
The experts give us much to think about, some things we might already be doing or about new ideas to try. But, is it possible that those concerned with all these issues could be reaching a zone of green fatigue?