From An Tairseach Newsletter – Winter 2015
In these days of rush and bustle what better way to relax than to take time out in our garden and marvel at the miracle of growing things. What a wonderful gift it is to have a garden. In Ireland most people have one as part of their home. Somebody once said “One is closer to God in a garden than anywhere else on Earth”.
Have you ever thought of your garden as an important home or sanctuary for wild life? At this time of mass destruction of habitats one can in some small way help to encourage biodiversity by making one’s garden into an eco-friendly home for many species of wild life. Wildlife in its turn will help to keep the ecological balance in your garden so you can eliminate the need to use harmful chemical herbicides and pesticides.
Birds will enhance any garden. We can encourage them in winter by providing a bird table and hanging feeders filled with peanuts and seeds. Nest boxes can be provided for some of the smaller birds like tits and robins that may use them in spring to rear their family.
Birds in your garden will repay you for your care by keeping harmful insects under control. Thrushes and blackbirds love a meal of slugs and snails so why would one ever feel the need to resort to lethal slug pellets? What a joy it is to wake up in spring and early summer and listen to the music of the dawn chorus. Nobody would like to contemplate the tragedy of a “Silent Spring” so let us make sure that this can never happen by doing what we can to make our gardens into safe havens for birds.
A pond if you have room is a wonderful addition to any garden. Even a small pond will attract frogs, dragonflies and a whole host of living creatures. A pond is a thing of beauty, which will provide much interest especially during the summer months and is within the ability of most gardeners to create. So many creatures and plants depend on ponds and marshes for survival and in addition they pro-vide so much interest and colour in the lives of humans.
The pond on our Farm in Wicklow is now fifteen years established. It is a home to many creatures and plants all interconnected by innumerable food chains. If you have a slug problem in your garden why not encourage frogs by making a small pond? A hedgehog will also help to keep down the slug population.
Bees, butterflies and hoverflies bring life and health to your garden. It is hard to imagine a garden in summer without the hum of bees and the glorious colour of butterflies. This summer just gone saw Red Admirals, peacocks, tortoiseshells and some others in our garden. Bees and hoverflies took a special liking to the Echinacea in the herb garden while the red admirals with their spectacular colouring of red, black and white descended on the ivy during the many sunny days of early September.
The presence of many species of pollinating insects including bees, butterflies and hoverflies is a sign of a healthy environment. These creatures play a vital role in our gardens by keeping the web of life intact. We can encourage them by growing colourful flowers, herbs and shrubs. A south facing wall with plenty of climbing plants like native ivy, holly and honeysuckle can prove a great attraction. In front of this a bed full of summer flowering plants and shrubs will ensure that your garden will be alive with these beautiful creatures all summer long.
In conclusion let us think about our gardens as a place of peace, beauty and relaxation, but let us be aware also that our gardens with a little extra thought and effort can become a place too for a whole range of creatures that also have a right to their habitats.
Julie Newman, OP
All the photographs of birds in this edition of the newsletter were taken by Sr Cecilia Prest an Australian Missionary Franciscan Sister of the Immaculate Conception Robin, Redshank; Chaffinches; Pied Wagtails;