How to Nurture Nature in the Garden
How to attract wildlife to the garden
With a lot of our native wildlife under threat from pesticides and intensive farming, the onus has been on the residential gardener to turn their patch into a wildlife haven.
Not only does creating a wildlife garden give our amazing bird, bug and animal life a chance, it also creates the foundations for a healthy and thriving ecosystem within the garden, one in which both plants and animals can thrive.
What's more, once established you get to enjoy watching your garden come to life, safe in the knowledge that you have done your bit for nature.
Biological diversity refers to all different kinds of life, and we can do a range of things to encourage life into our garden. There is not the space in one blog post to cover all that can be done, but below you will find a few simple ideas to get you started.
Bountiful bird life
To attract birds into the garden you can do the following:
1. Feed them – use approved seeds, nuts and fat balls. Feeding the birds in winter can mean the difference between life and death for birds.
2. Create a bird bath, for drinking and washing. Any shallow container with enough of a rim for birds to perch will do. Just make sure you keep the water fresh and clean.
3. Help with nesting, especially fun with little gardeners in tow. Leave small piles of wool and twigs in easy to reach places for birds to use as nesting material.
4. Keep predators at bay by placing food and feeders out of the way of cats.
Get those bees buzzing
Bee protection continues to be the subject of much debate and for good reason. Our bee populations are in decline and in recent years two of our native species have become extinct. It is more important than ever to create a safe haven in our garden for these magical little creatures.
Here's how you can help:
1. Plant pollinator plants. From wildflowers to ivy to fruit trees, bees love a whole variety of plants. Pop in and speak to one of our plant experts to find out which bee-friendly plants will work in your garden.
2. Get colourful – bees are attracted to bright colours such as yellow, pink and purple.
3. Provide a bee shelter; either buy one or make one by stacking sticks and tubes together.
4. Make a bee bath … yes you heard correctly! Simply find a shallow container, add rocks and water. Make sure the rocks are not completely submerged, as these will act as a perch from which the bees can drink.
5. Avoid all use of pesticides in your garden. Instead, opt for pesticide resistant plants or simply relax a little and let nature do its thing, allowing for a little perfect imperfection in your garden.
Make room for the hedgehogs
In the 1950s there were 30 million hedgehogs in Great Britain; now there are less than 1 million. This awful statistic is mainly attributed to the increase in roads and road traffic across the same timescale. Hedgehogs generally hibernate from late November to mid-March, but their survival across the winter is dependent on them building sufficient fat reserves.
It's a huge joy to see hedgehogs roaming in the garden. Here is how you can help them:
1. Put special hedgehog food out (not milk or cat food).
2. Pile up leaves, the natural nesting material for the hedgehog, at the back of the border and prop the odd board up against the fence. Our prickly friends will have the perfect winter nest.
3. Invest in a hedgehog house and place it in a private area of the garden filled with straw or autumn leaves.
4. If you find a hedgehog in distress, call the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, who will advise you on what to do next.
Bring your garden to life with a pond
Ever thought about adding a pond to your garden? Even a small container pond can add to the biodiversity of a garden and make a lovely little feature.
Here are our top tips for making a little pond:
1. Choose a waterproof container.
2. Find a position in the garden where it can remain undisturbed.
3. To make sure one side of your pond has a sloping wall, use stones or slate to create a stairway from the bottom of the pond to the top. This allows wildlife to get out of the pond, and frogs will use it as a platform for sunbathing.
4. Add a small amount of gravel to the bottom of the pond.
5. Add some pond plants that oxygenate over the varying seasons; for instance, water-crowfoot will oxygenate in spring and winter, hornwort and waterweed will oxygenate in the summer and autumn seasons.
Hedera (English Ivy)
It is a little known fact that English Ivy is incredibly important for bees who enjoy ivy flowers. What's more, this is a very intelligent plant, using its berries in a clever way in order to entice birds and other animals to distribute their seeds. The seed is encased in juicy, fleshy pith, rewarding the birds that eat them with vitamins and energy. Ivy can be trained on sturdy wire frames, as we have done here, making an attractive wildlife friendly plant and perfect to give as a gift.