Wildlife garden

The natural way to encourage wildlife back into our gardens

Challenging Times

We are forever hearing the sad news of ever dwindling wildlife populations here in the UK. Many species of plant life,  insects, birds and other wild animals that once were common within our ‘green and pleasant land’, have become somewhat of a rarity these days.

This mostly due to human activities including the heavy use of pesticides in agriculture, urbanisation, road building and the destruction of leafy, flower rich gardens in favour of tarmac shrines to our automobiles.

So, it is clear that we are making a real mess of things in destroying so many natural habits, what can we the British people do about it? If you’re not one for sitting and sipping tea during a crisis, then read on!

Encouraging wildlife back into your own garden

There are over 15 million gardens in Britain and plenty of practical steps to make Britains indigenous creatures feel at home in them, even within our largest and busiest cities. Many of these methods will not only offer a lifeline to rare insects and animals but will also benefit your garden in so many ways.

Give a toad a home

Toads, frogs and other amphibians will eat thousands upon thousands of the many insects that will happily devastate your veg patch or flower garden. If you have plenty of space, build a pond to ‘bring’ amphibians in – this is not recommended if young children play there. Amphibians like dark, cool and damp areas, so place a few rocks or logs around your garden. Such placements can look quite attractive surrounded by ornamental grasses and other plants.

Feeding wild animals

Bring birds into your garden by setting up bird feeders, keep them topped up with plenty of food and put them out of the reach of cats. A prickly bush at the base of a bird table will put off most moggies. Don’t forget hygiene. Ensure that any feeder are cleaned on a regular basis with hot water. Avoid using detergents and other cleaning products as they may prove harmful to birds. Throw away rotten seed – don’t compost it as this may encourage the unwanted attention of rats.

Bring on the Bees – flowers for nectar feeders

We should all be worried about the global bee decline – without bees, many of our staple food crops will not be pollinated and yield nothing. Do what you can to make bees and other nectar feeders as happy as possible in your garden. Establish nectar-rich flowering plants – in recent studies, British insects have shown to be not that particular on where a plant comes from, just how much nectar it produces.

Here are just a few suggestions of flowering plants for encouraging many species of beneficial insects such as bees, moths and butterflies.

  • Lavendar
  • Cornflower
  • Rosemary
  • Aquilegia
  • Angelica
  • Sweet pea
  • Scabious
  • Buddleia
  • Geranium
  • Comfrey
  • Potentilla
  • Campanula
  • Sedums
  • Heathers
  • Daffodils
  • Hellebores
  • foxgloves
  • Penstemons
  • Snapdragons
  • Honeysuckle
  • Passion Flower

Top tips on making your garden wildlife friendly

  • Avoid using pesticides and herbicides.
  • Create plenty of cover and shade for insects and other animals using logs, stick piles and rocks/bricks.
  • Get rid of your ‘easy to maintain’ evergreen shrubs and fill your garden with flowering plants like buddleia and foxglove.
  • Reduce the size of your lawn or patio and plant a few flowering shrubs or fruit trees in your garden.
  • Set aside an area of your garden for wild flowers. You could turn an area of your lawn into a beautiful mini-meadow of indigenous plants and grasses.
  • Encourage your neighbours to encourage wildlife. Building a ‘corridor’ for wildlife is one sure way of making a real difference.

On a positive note

We don’t have to be the destroyers of nature, on the contrary; a woodland under the protection of a Ranger will be healthier, it’s trees live longer, and be more abundant in wildlife than a woodland left to it’s own devices. With the correct understandings, we can all make a marked difference on the most precious and fragile of realms – the natural world.

James Middleton

An obsessive gardener since 1982. Day-time job - web designer and developer and University lecturer.

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