Sustainability NOW: Earthly Paradise

My Patch – Paul Rushton’s Natural Nirvana
11th May 2020
Biodynamic Gardening Club Webinars
17th July 2020

5 years ago, Kai Lange, who co-ordinates the Biodynamic Agricultural College’s work-based learning Level 3 Diploma and his artist cum gardener partner, Lucy Voelcker,  bought a house with a spectacular view and a steep-sided neglected  wasteland. Classic wooded Gloucestershire hillsides and a deep valley provide the glorious backdrop on one side, and a road and houses on the other. A combination of Kai’s DIY skills, Lucy’s love of beauty, their passion for recycling, and their combined creativity and sense of ‘guardianship’ has resulted in a remarkable transformation. The result is a unique garden and inspiring story – best told in pictures- of how the landscape, garden, nature, and owners live together in fluid harmony.

Some Basics: simple ideas provide lasting foundations

1.Creating boundaries : Wild clematis was encouraged to flourish on the outside wall and a reclaimed wooden door softens the road, creating a sense of privacy . 

2 Creating flow: originally  an unsightly barrier, which ‘blocked’ the view, removing every other iron railing  allowed the landscape in, and provided iron poles repurposed into arches.

3. Letting plants be: an ugly concrete breeze block wall –  now home to wild carrot and other ‘rogue’ plants – transformed by Nature. “ Watching and learning from which plants arrive of their own accord – yarrow, wild carrot, sweet rocket , teasel, evening primrose – how they grow, and what they like growing with is central .“ 

Structures: creative use of existing hard core, allows permanent structures to blend  into the landscape. 

Greenhouse: Homemade, built around an existing concrete base and back wall with second-hand materials; water is collected via a network of connecting drainpipes and water butts. An escapee vine from the patio above now grows inside and produces delicious grapes.

Compost bin: Home made wooden surround hides a plastic compost bin. “Anything that seems ugly  will jar the vision and atmosphere you are creating. Finding ways to screen, paint over, or cover it will restore the harmony you are aiming for.”  Note: bamboo fencing wrapped around the bin is a simple alternative. 

“Tree House”: a concrete floor and unwanted corner provided the base for the much-loved house in the trees. Built by Kai using  recycled  doors and cedarwood (does not need weatherproofing) bought from lumber yards quite cheaply; total cost £800, including the second-hand wood burner.

The Garden: reclaimed from scratch, working with the landscape, and allowing the garden to express itself, and a place to ‘be’ and belong.  “Gardening is so beautiful because it allows you to participate in nature not just be a spectator, and how it’s about a dialogue where the  gardener, garden and nature are equal partners who co-create together  “ 

Seats: dotted all over the garden, made from wooden planks, recycled iron work, or picked up cheaply. “ For us, gardens revolve around places to sit  – each one is an invitation to ‘be’ with your garden; each one, too, captures a different vista, mood, sun, shade, and light as the day progresses”. Wild clematis is being encouraged to climb up the telegraph pole – nature providing a garden feature for free.

Plants : a profusion of pollinator plants mingle with rescued shrubs and trees and are encouraged to flourish where they want.  Seeds are saved  to ‘grow’ home made resilience and biodiversity.

Lucy spraying biodynamic preparations: this happens throughout the year, and are seen as a gift  and ‘thank you’ to the garden as well as good biodynamic garden practice. “It’s the intention you bring to the preps that is the most important  aspect of these remarkable  substances” They spray Three Kings prep in January;  tree bark prep in spring; silica ‘sunshine’ prep in summer; and the “all purpose” barrel prep in autumn.

Ed Note: you can buy these from the BDA online shop

Arches:  made from re-purposed railings. These provide windows to look through, and create a sense of discovery. “As important as seats! “

To explore a deeper relationship with the land, and how you can co-create with nature  in your garden,  check out Kai and Lucy’s one to one sessions and workshops at  Hortusheart