From a design perspective, all those hours spent deciding which plant should go where can be ruined in a few seconds by a runaway Catherine wheel firework…
…but many people prefer to see an organised display. This is good news for your plants, your pets and the wildlife in your garden.
If you are planning a bonfire and some home fireworks, and have covered the safety for humans and have shut away the dog and cat with radio 4, what else might you need to think about? Let your neighbours know – so they can be sure their cats and dogs are indoors (listening to classic fm: the rebels). But so that pet rabbits and guinea pigs can be moved to a quiet and safe place too. these days there are quite a few urban and suburban hens; they too need to be encouraged to roost early, and perhaps treated to a blanket not so much for warmth as extra sound insulation; leaving a radio or cd with soothing music may help.
As for the plants, well firstly if you have some common herbs in your garden, they can be used to soothe all these domestic beasts. Lavender, hop (Humulus lupus) or chamomile flowers added to the bedding offer a subtle relaxant. You may still have some lemon balm (Melissa officianalis) growing in the garden; this also works. Hens, rabbits and guinea pigs generally enjoy eating this so give them a little mixed with lettuces (also soporific) for supper. Catnip (Nepeta) is often found in cats’ toys. I’ve only once known it to ‘chill’ a cat; they generally go crazy, so maybe skip this. A light room spray using any of the above herbs can also help calm pets and livestock.
As for the plants themselves, the obvious solution is to aim fireworks away from your prized specimen. If you’re not sure that the person in charge of setting the fireworks knows a Daphne mezereum from a nettle then taking preventative action is required. Covering very-probably-at-risk prized border plants with kitchen foil is best, this can be loosely draped over the plant or over the frames used to support tall herbaceous perennials; a plastic bell cloche works unless the sparks are close.
As for bonfires, I’m sure you’ll remember to check for hedgehogs, frogs and toads. But can I point out that a bonfire on a lawn will leave a large patch of earth and burnt grass roots; the grass is extremely unlikely to regrow. So protect your lawn. On the plus side, if you have charge of the wood being used, make sure it’s all untreated wood, set your bonfire in a container with a tray underneath to catch the ash. Then when the ash has cooled you can add it to your compost heap to increase the potassium; preferably layering it with some leafy cuttings. Alternatively, if you’ve ordered some bare root roses or fruit trees keep the ash in a dry place (a bag in the shed will do) until you come to plant and add it around the roots as extra organic matter. Your bare root trees and bushes will say thank you.
Interesting how things turn out – I had originally thought I’d write about fireworks in the garden and tell you which colourful beauties you could plant to give you living fireworks – oh well, we’ll keep that one for another time…