THE UN climate change summit is coming to Glasgow in November. This is a great honour and we need to show the world that Scotland is taking action when it comes to climate change.

The future of our civilisation and the world as we know it hangs in the balance and drastic steps are needed. Many world leaders dithered shamefully at last year’s Madrid summit so here’s hoping they can take their responsibilities seriously when they meet in Glasgow and that they can agree a far-reaching programme to sort the mess humankind has made.

We gardeners can all contribute by greening Scotland’s gardens. We can help reduce CO2 emissions and the frightening decline in biodiversity.

Every month I will explore options with practical advice on how you can make a difference throughout the year. However committed you already are, I hope I’ll be able to suggest something extra. So lift up your trowel and show the world how to wield it greenly.

I’ll be looking at three main ideas: carbon emissions, biodiversity, and outreach, persuading groups, individuals and organisations to do their bit.

Cutting atmospheric CO2 will take centre stage at the Glasgow summit. When you see Chinese, Brazilian and Australian antics, what on earth can you do in a tiny Dundee or Kelso plot? But millions of properly managed gardens and open spaces would certainly make a huge difference.

Whenever you buy seed or potting compost, make sure it doesn’t contain peat. Whatever its horticultural benefits, peat is harvested only by devastating ancient peat bogs and, apart from environmental damage, large quantities of carbon are released into the atmosphere. There is no excuse for using it.

We also release carbon every time we get the rotovator out of the shed, double dig or rip up an established lawn. No dig gardening is much better for our precious soil and minimises carbon release. And are there alternatives to petrol-driven machinery?

As for carbon capture, planting at least one hardwood tree helps a bit. These are a few of the ideas I’ll explore.

The world will keep going even if we do pollute the atmosphere, but unless we seriously try to stem species loss, little life as we know it will be left.

Valuing the diversity of life in your garden is an approach that adds zest and lively interest for you. It’s a positive, exciting prospect not a list of deadly, restrictive rules.

So, in the coming months, I’ll ask whether you think your gardening helps or hinders living creatures. Does the garden have suitable habitats, flowers for pollinators and healthy living soil, or are you poisoning it with synthetic chemicals on paths, lawns or soil, killing off a world of tiny and critically important creatures we can’t even see?

Scalping the lawn and being excessively tidy are also often disruptive.

And, of course, there’s the vexed question of plastic which is choking our waterways and oceans and, as microplastic, is poisoning the soil. When you stop and think, you’ll find there are often, but not always, alternatives to plastic. There’s no escaping clear plastic cloches and polytunnel skins, but that’s about it, as I’ll show.

There’s so much gardeners can contribute but it’s also important to get others on board and spread the word. If you can’t face campaigning, a chat with a neighbour or the family are also worthwhile, or using social media if you’re into that.

If you do want to spread the word more widely, I will be suggesting ways of doing so. Many schools have gardens and composting facilities and might value some help. Why not approach community gardens and orchards? How is your local authority managing public spaces and roadside verges?

Climate change is a challenge we must all face.

Plant of the week

Hazel, Corylus avellana, is a tree for all seasons. Just now its smooth, pale bronze bark glows in the weak winter light but, in sheltered spots, the dusky pink male catkins are already 2cm long.