Gardeners in Northern Ireland have long been accustomed to dealing with weeds and dead plants that cause problems for their gardens.
But now a new system is in place that aims to reduce the amount of damage and weed growth.
Longwood Gardens, a partnership between local authorities, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and the University of Dundee, is looking to build on the existing system.
It’s hoped the system, called the Garden Protection Initiative, will encourage gardeners to think about what they need to do to manage their garden in a sustainable way.
“It’s a bit like a garden-building manual,” said Ms McElhaney.
“We all have different skills and different needs to keep our gardens tidy and safe, and to make sure they’re in good condition and looking great when they’re gone.”
Longwood Gardeners are encouraged to think of the many different things that can go wrong with a garden and how to avoid those problems.
“The key is to think through what is your problem, what are the things that you need to control and reduce the risk of those things happening in the first place,” Ms McEany said.
“So, for example, if a plant that’s not healthy grows around the perimeter of your garden, it can be an issue if that’s where it gets in the soil.”
The Garden Protection initiative is a collaboration between Longwood Gardens and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which is responsible for managing the garden sector.
“Defra has a long-term commitment to supporting the sustainability of our countryside and our gardens, and we’ve always worked together to help us meet this challenge,” said Longwood Gardener manager, Claire O’Brien.
“In 2017, we completed a project to ensure that we had an efficient and cost-effective way of protecting and managing our gardens from weed and other problems, and now we’re looking to see how we can continue to build upon that work.”
Ms McEanna said she is hoping that the Garden Protect initiative will be a “tough and long-lasting” one that will encourage gardener’s to think beyond the garden and tackle any problems that arise.
“For me, the key to my garden is the fact that I have a great variety of plants and different flowers to choose from, and there’s so much variety that the weeds are a problem and it’s important to have a plan for managing that and dealing with that,” Ms O’Brien said.
For more information about the GardenProtect initiative, contact Claire OBrien at: [email protected]