Adopting an eco-friendly mindset
Is gardening one of your favourite hobbies? Would you like to start gardening? How can you enjoy this pastime in harmony with nature? The Museum will keep you on the right track!
Observe your environment
First tip: play it local. Start by looking at what’s growing around you. Taking into account the climate (temperature and rainfall) but also the nature of the soil (acidic, limestone, clay) is the key to choosing plants that will flourish in your home. Remember to ask about the origin and availability of the species, and where it grows best. Beware of invasive species and, above all, leave protected species alone. Lists may vary from one region to another. You can visit the website of the Conservatoires botaniques nationaux to find out more about the flora in your region.
Create your space
There’s nothing to prevent you from combining horticultural and botanical zones. In fact, it’s better if you do! Let nature express itself within a plot. Be patient: wild plants may well appear, such as terrestrial orchids (which are rare in a garden because they live in symbiosis with fungi), ranunculus, violets, daffodils, periwinkles, poppies, arums, etc. Insects and birds will also find things to feed on, and don't forget that they are your seed and pollen transport specialists! To mark out your plant patch it’s best to use wood, gravel, porous paving slabs, stone or metal. Avoid plastic.
Orchestrate your plantings
Give species the time to take hold by planting them gradually. Anticipate their flowering period, their eventual spread (width), their height, which ones will rise above the others, etc. – in short, the conditions for their coexistence. Again, take into account the soil, which can vary here and there depending on its exposure. The key to success? A wide range of plants to encourage biodiversity, but also to stop pests and diseases taking hold. To feel at home, the trend is often to erect conifers as a well-trimmed wall of greenery, but a mixture of thorny, flowering and fruiting shrubs is just as pretty and feasible, and less vulnerable.
Preserve your soil
Spading the soil to get rid of weeds is not the best idea, because the buried seeds always grow back! Remove them carefully and aerate the soil with a broadfork. Decomposed leaves will enrich it and form a carpet in the pathways, just like in a forest. Mow your lawn at irregular intervals, always aiming to give nature some breathing space. In your flowerbeds, apply compost at the surface by hoeing. It will enhance your plants’ growth by providing them with natural nutrients. Of course, preserving your environment and your health also means banning pesticides!
Start in the spring or autumn by placing your garden and/or kitchen waste (peelings and tops, coffee grounds, paper filters, bread, cheese rinds, spoiled fruit and vegetables, etc.) in a bin. Balance the inputs at around 50% wet waste and 50% dry waste. Cut them up into small pieces. Stir the mixture regularly and monitor the humidity level. If you live in a town or city, consider using a collective compost bin or installing a vermicomposter on your balcony. Go to your town hall for more information. Over to you!
Water (in moderation!)
Water is precious. Collect rainwater and manage it well, keeping in mind that plants are more likely to die from over-watering than under-watering!
Enjoy observing biodiversity?
Why not take part in one of our citizen science programs on the fauna and flora in your garden, on your balcony, in the park near your home, etc.? You’ll be helping the Museum’s scientists with the data you collect!
Article written in March 2022. Our thanks go to Philippe Barré, technical manager of the Jardin des Plantes site from 1978 to 2022, for his invaluable revision work and his contributions.