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The Art of Rewilding: Tips for Growing a Lush Urban Garden

Let nature take its course in your garden and get a taste of some urban greenery by following these tips!

The urban lifestyle leaves little room for getting in touch with nature, but throughout the quarantine period, many people learned how to cultivate flora in the comfort of their homes.

While most self-proclaimed plantitos and plantitas put their Chinese evergreens and Boston ferns in neat little pots, only a few have embraced growing a wild and free garden.

What does rewilding mean?

Simply put, rewilding is letting your plants grow on their own. For instance, instead of using topiary (cutting a bush into a certain shape), you let it grow into its true form.

Rewilding is allowing the ecosystem to thrive: you let bees pollinate, annelids decompose rotten fruits, and leave room for various organisms to live in your garden.

But in settings that don’t give much room for growing rich greenery, rewilding can be impractical. However, there are still ways to successfully rewild your (urban) garden!

Let mother nature work its magic.

This is the most important rule in rewilding a garden: have as little intervention as possible. While it’s great to tend to your garden and give it the care that it deserves, nature has its own way of helping and healing itself.

Gardening does not have to be rigid and bound by rules. Rewilding is in fact beneficial to urban spaces and in some studies, even for combatting abnormal climate fluctuations.

While careless rewilding can cause invasive or destructive species to thrive in your home (which costs a lot of money for damage repair and whatnot), being equipped with enough gardening knowledge on rewilding can make a good and lasting impact in your home and even in your well-being.

Say no to chemicals.

The first step is ditching inorganic fertilizers and pesticides when rewilding a garden. Instead, use compost like dried leaves, fruit peelings, or even coffee grounds to fertilize the soil.

You can also DIY and make chili pepper or tomato leaf spray as pesticides. Swapping synthetic pesticides for organic ones is not only for rewilding but also for improving our health.

Moreover, synthetic chemicals can harm the health of insects and other tiny organisms that feed on plants, so you should be careful in choosing your plants’ nutrient sources.

Things in nature don't really completely die: when something rots, it gets repurposed for the growth of another living thing (like compost). How amazing is that!

Plant flowers for butterflies and bees.

In terms of visuals, butterflies prefer orange, yellow, or pink flowers. Butterflies need a lot of nectar for their growth, so plant nectar-rich flowers like lavender, daisies, and marigold.

Meanwhile, bees are blind to red flowers, so it would be better to choose yellow, blue, or purple flowers. Bees gravitate towards sunflowers, cosmoses, and lilacs, among others.

As much as possible, diversify your flowers and don’t stick to just one family or species. Make sure that they are healthy by placing them in spots with enough moisture and sunlight.

It’s important to gather knowledge on the flowers that attract bees and butterflies. To know more, check out this list of flowers that attract bees and this list for butterflies.

Choose native plants.

Don’t get flowers like tulips or pansies because they will eventually die in the Philippine heat. Pick plants that are suited for a tropical climate, so that they live longer.

Good examples of this are yellow bells, ixora (santan), or hibiscus (gumamela). If you want fruits or vegetables then you can grow avocados, tomatoes, and string beans too.

If you don’t like flowers, vegetables or fruit-bearing plants, then you can try local herbs like oregano and pandan, succulents like aloe vera or echeveria, or spices like siling labuyo.

Native plants are great because not only do they require minimal care but also provide a good source of nutrients and habitation for various insects and bugs that are native to the country.

Make it vertical.

Tomatoes, runner beans, and snow peas come from climbing plants, so grow these vines on your backyard walls. These are good for both aesthetic value and preserving flora and fauna in the city.

If you want non-vegetating climbing plants that grow fast, then you can get sweet peas or rambling roses. However, if you want normal growth, then get creeping figs or golden hops.

However, if you’re not big on unruly and random plant growth, then you can still put your plants in a pot. However, don’t trim them and place them in a bigger space if they get too big.

Allow wild plants to sprout.

This is the heart of rewilding: no trimming and no uprooting. Wild plants are proof that human intervention is sometimes unnecessary. Even in the most unideal conditions, wild plants are sure to pop up. To add to this, wild plants can actually add beauty to your garden.

While some people think wildflowers like ground ivies and wild violets are an eyesore, they’re actually pretty nice to look at. However, wild grass and flowers can steal nutrients from those that are intentionally planted. This is how nature works though: some plants are thirstier than others, and the latter can steal from the former if they want to.

Decay your plants.

As mentioned earlier, decayed plants make for good compost, which is food for the soil. Decayed plants are also degradable, and obviously don’t take up a lot of dumpsite space.

However, the decayed parts of plants like fruits or vegetables can be worrisome to those who dislike decomposition agents (basically, worms). Although, to those who don’t mind the little creepers on your soil, you’re good.

Worms aren’t just crawlers that haunt us every once in a while. They are necessary to soil moisture because of the holes they dig, and fertilization through the castings they leave behind.

If this sounds a little too messy or dirty especially if you have an indoor garden, then skip this idea or suggest this to your fellow plantito/plantita friends who have larger spaces.

Time to do some rewilding!

Rewilding may be unconventional, but if you’re into preserving the ecosystem, contributing to addressing international temperature fluctuations, and basking in the lushness and abundance of nature, then this is the way to go.

How would you practice rewilding in your own indoor garden or backyard? What do you love about rewilding? What parts of it aren’t you too crazy about? May this spark an interest in you to value nature while elevating the aesthetic value of your home.


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Thompson, C. (2020, April 20). Top 7 Beautiful Indoor Plants for Plantitos and Plantitas. Bulakenyo.

Timperley, J. (2021, January 8). Rewilding: Can it save our wildlife and temper climate change? Science Focus.

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