May 19th – 26th is National Biodiversity Week here in Ireland, and as won’t be any surprise to you, we’re big into biodiversity here at Stillgarden (very, very important to our core pillar Nature so it is!)
For the occasion, we’ve asked our brilliant Gardener in Residence to chat a bit about biodiversity here on our blog.
Promoting biodiversity is very important to us at Stillgarden, and this is something that I definitely put into practice in the community garden.
When the garden was first established back in March 2020, its foundations were a membrane on top of the former dumping site, then covered with topsoil. This meant that the nutrient quality in the soil and mycorrhizal networks were either rock bottom or non-existent. Whilst for some plants, low quality soil is actually desirable (think Mediterranean plants, like lavender and rosemary), the majority of botanicals we want to grow need a little more to feed their roots – especially fruit.
Interestingly, a lot of annual wildflowers also like to get started on bare, low-nutrient soil. As the plants develop, break down, and begin cyclical re-germination, more and more nutrients enter the soil. Insects are attracted to the area, in turn bringing their own nutrients through their excretions, decaying bodies (when their time comes), attracting birds and larger insect predators, who bring their own…and so on, and so forth. The predators we attract help us to keep the garden organic too; they keep pests at a manageable level, and mostly away from the botanicals we harvest for distillery products and experimentation.
Encouraging a rich biodiversity of plants has encouraged a rich biodiversity of wildlife. With different types of ladybirds, bees, damselflies, dragonflies, butterflies, and moths all regular visitors to the garden, we have seen this in action. Additionally, with the increasingly large blooms we have seen in the wildflower patches, and our increasing harvest of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and botanicals, our efforts are clearly working. And much of what grows in the garden has just appeared by itself – all of the wildflowers this year are from natural rejuvenation, or from seeds we harvested from the same patches in the autumn. Angelica (the root of which is a core botanical in most gins) is something I’ve tried to germinate with the Social Botanists ever since I came on as the gardener two summers ago, yet it’s something that appeared by itself last year, and is currently one of the garden’s most striking blooms.
There are many reasons behind why the garden is thriving year upon year – hard work from the Social Botanist community, donations, weather. Biodiversity, however, is one of the most important. Without it, the garden wouldn’t be as unique as it is.
We hope you enjoyed this little chat on biodiversity from our lovely Brand Ambotanist Connor!
If you’d like to learn more about what Connor and the Stillgarden team are up to here in our community garden, why not book in for a Garden Tour and enjoy a wander around our little urban oasis – and a tasty welcome drink! If you’re more interested in how our home-grown botanicals find their boozy final homes, go ahead and book in for a Distillery Tour, or if you really want to get in depth with botanicals, our Gin School & Distilling Academy experience!