‘It’s a hit or miss for summer flowering’

“Spring is over, summer has begun, and it is always an exciting time for nature,” says Hans de Kroon, professor of plant ecology at Radboud University. Like many garden owners and participants in De Wilde Tuin, a project from NRC and Tilburg University, De Kroon is concerned about the lack of rain lately, with March being the driest month since KNMI took measurements. “It is a new phenomenon that plants are already withering and drying out in May. Growth has stopped and there will even be a standstill. ”

The crucial garden issue today is seed formation and fruiting. Have the plants been able to mature enough seeds? And has it fallen off so that it forms new fabric for the next generation? Many gardens and municipal eyebrows now look beautiful, says De Kroon, but he advises garden enthusiasts and the municipalities not to cut too early, because “many flowers are still in development.” He would advise the wild gardener to study the process of fertilizing the flowers and ideally report this on Waarneming.nl or Obsidentify: is the flower pollinated by the wild bee, honey bee or hoverfly?

Also read: This grows, buzzes and crawls in the Wild Garden

Blackberries and stinging nettle

This season is characterized by great competition between plants, especially the combination of rain and high temperature sun gives the plants an impetus. For many plants, it is a hit or miss, especially when it comes to a place in the light. Nitrogen-loving species such as blackberries, stinging nettles, reeds and ravines are definitely the victors in gardens with rich soil: they threaten to overgrow everything.

At this time it is often still very young, a victim of aphids and whiteflies. De Kroon has been able to state this in his own garden: “The animals have flocked to it in abundance.” According to De Kroon, it is a good idea to take a good look under larger plants and see which small, often more vulnerable species grow there.

As June approaches, people are looking for summer flowers. Rare species reported by participants in the Wild Garden are dark crane nose and long speedwell. The latter, which belongs to the plantain family, is easily recognizable by its sky-blue, panicked flowers. In fact, this speedwell only blooms in July and August, but it was photographed on May 29, a flowering of more than a month premature. This fits into the current climate picture: Summers start earlier and earlier.

Wild gardener Ralph Stuyver has planted a square piece of wild game on his 100 square meter roof garden at Overtoom in Amsterdam. He is also the initiator of the Amsterdam Bureau Binnentuinen (2016) and the Open Tuinen West. “In Amsterdam-West, a movement of active residents has emerged, which makes their environment greener in connection with removing tiles and greenery,” says Stuyver. “I suddenly noticed a lot of liverwort in my garden, and then one always wonders: where did it come from?”

With his office, he has made more than two hundred gardens in five districts biodiverse and climate-proof. He also sees major droughts and heavy rains flooding everything as a problem. Then he has an important piece of advice for gardens with high groundwater: Supplement the gardens with as much healthy garden soil as possible. It acts like a sponge because the soil holds on to the water. And then garden plants can drink longer and rainwater sinks more slowly into the soil.

Sleep next to the garden

Now that it’s summer, Wilde Tuin can also be seen further in the evening and at night. “Lay a mattress next to the wild space and spend the night there, sleeping under the starry sky,” suggests Koen Arts. Arts at Wageningen University researches the connection between man and nature and is the author of the book Wild year: 365 nights outside (2021) on nature experience in the Netherlands. Arts has just returned from fieldwork with his students, which means sleeping in nature, making campfires, splitting firewood. Arts: “Now that we are entering the summer with the longest day, it is easier to create a deeper connection with De Wilde Tuin, not as an outsider or observer, but as part of nature itself. For example, stand there under a rain shower and see how flower stalks bend due to the rain, see how the water runs away and what the rain does to a garden. ”

Arts sees the overgrown or regenerated gardens as a metaphor that removes the traditional separation between man and nature: “We always start from the dichotomy between man and nature, but I would like to argue that man and nature are a unit, that we can go much deeper than we often think associated with nature. We soon put our scientific observational lenses between us and nature, but it is the experience side that is so important. And once we’ve discovered it, the experience of a piece of our own wilderness, then we’ll also be more committed to preserving and protecting planet Earth. “Arts encourages people to also share experiences online under the hashtag #dewildetuin.

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