What is the Half Wild Garden?

Wild your garden with style

Hi, I’m Ciar, a garden writer and fledgling garden designer, but I also go by the name of Wilde Carrot on social, because I think Daucus carota is a pretty cool plant. I’ve had a blog (carrotsandcalendula.co.uk) for four years now, but in 2021 I wanted to start a new project, inspired by the fact that one of the most popular gardening search terms over the coming year is predicted to be “wild garden”. I thought about why this was and I’ve surmised it’s because we all feel the need for some wild in our lives right now to soothe our souls. But what actually is a wild garden? Is it a garden that’s been left to its own devices for so long that it has become totally overgrown (my garden is heading that way at the moment). Nah, I don’t think that’s what people mean. There’s a genuine drive to create outdoor spaces that are in harmony with nature and nurture wildlife, that don’t add to the climate emergency with tonnes of stone imported half way around the world, gas guzzling barbeques and plants that have been grown in peat using insect-killing neonicotinoids, and that I wholeheartedly agree with. Wild garden is a contradiction in terms however, because the very essence of a garden is that it’s nature tamed, enclosed (from the Proto-Germanic word ‘gardo’ meaning hedge). That’s why I have come up with the concept of the ‘half-wild garden’ to describe making a place which is partly designed by human hand, but where “nature” is also allowed to run riot, with self-seeded plants, elements of decay, re-use of existing materials and careful selection of new plants, growing material, ornaments and hard-landscaping to allow those natural processes which are beyond our control to thrive.

Sustainability is just the BIGGEST THING in the world of horticulture and garden design right now, but there’s still a lack of information on what’s truly sustainable. One of the things I’m going to try to do is to get to the bottom of the specifics. What growing material is the best alternative to peat? How can we source sustainable stone? What plants should we be growing for a changing climate? What local independent businesses can we support? What books should we be reading to help us on this journey. You will find all this and more at The Half Wild Garden, via our website, newsletters, social and podcasts. And it’s as much of a learning journey for me as it is for readers, so please do get in touch via email at thehalfwildgarden@gmail.com or on Twitter and Instagram @wildecarrot

Thanks for reading and I’d love it if you would like to subscribe and join me on this half wild journey!