With a background in environmental law, ecological design was a logical next step. Having lived in both South Africa and Australia before settling in the UK, Tara was very much aware of the need to be careful with water. Beth Chatto's approach of only watering plants when planting by selecting the right plant for the right place made complete sense and it is something that Tara tries to achieve in her designs and in her own garden.
With climate change, it is essential to be careful with finite resources such as water. Correct preparation of the soil, prior to and after planting, using mulch to retain water and ensuring tree planting holes are correctly dug are all part of being careful with this valuable resource. In addition, a sustainable approach to gardening calls for working with the soil that is on a site rather than taking away or bringing in tonnes of soil at vast expense (and use of fossil fuels) so choosing the right plant for the right place is essential.
Careful choice of plants can also reduce the need for pesticides and herbicides by choosing better, more disease-resistant specimens and by encouraging biodiversity - for example, ladybirds eat aphids and birds eat slugs so by encouraging a wide variety of species in a garden, nature can help look after the pests. Planting a wide variety of species extends the flowering period and thereby extends the period of time that pollen and nectar are available to pollinators such as bees and also butterflies that collect pollen on their legs and body as they fly from flower to flower. Pollinators are not fussy about whether plants are native or non-native - they just want the pollen and nectar!
We experiment at Scollops Farm with layered planting, using mixed perennials and grasses. We have put in wildflower meadows and we always try and include plants that are great for pollinators.