In case you didn’t know, natural wildlife is under a lot of pressure right now. Our growing global population is causing us to erode animals’ natural habitats, trigger climate change and even spread diseases that affect many creatures. It can be disheartening if you think about the scale of the damage we’re doing to the natural world, and impossible for one solitary gardener to tackle alone! But, your back garden and your effort counts for a lot – and it’s certainly a great place to start. Besides, imagine if every gardener did their bit!
Set a good example and inspire others to encourage wildlife into their gardens by following these tips…
Firstly, consider planting flowers with lots of pollen and nectar. The aim of the game is to grow flowers that have a long season for producing these two things, such as crocuses in the spring and summer, or ivy also in autumn and early winter. It’s a good idea to encourage wildlife into your garden by increasing the amount of pollen and nectar on offer, as these are the things that creatures such as butterflies and bees need for the vital task for fertilisation. Without them, our seed and fruit production would be in big trouble.
Secondly, if you have any wood in your garden, or have a wood-burning stove in your home, why not build a log pile? A store of wood like this is handy, as you can nip straight outside to get more fuel for a cosy night in the living room, but it’s also a great habitat for small mammals and insects. You’ll be providing a shelter for everything from woodlice to hedgehogs.
And, on the subject of hedgehogs, did you know there are number of things you can do in your garden to lend them a helping hand? Try making a tepee-shaped log pile for hedgehogs to live in, and be sure to check their dwellings before bonfire night. Hedgehogs are often sleeping under bonfire arrangements and twig tepees, so be sure to check structures thoroughly before setting light to anything. Also, you can help to feed hedgehogs by leaving them kitchen scraps. Don’t be tempted to offer them milk and bread – it’s an old wife’s tale that they like it, and it’s actually thought to be potentially harmful to them. Instead, they’ll enjoy your leftover cooked vegetables, surplus dog food and dried fruit.
Also, you can attract wildlife by not cultivating your entire garden. Although it’s tempting (and fun!) to have a plan for every square inch of soil, try to exercise a bit of restraint and leave a corner to grow a little wild. For instance, let the grass reach a longer length before cutting it, and leave twigs, leaves and plant debris without tidying it away. It’s also worth upending a few plant pots, or leaving one or two on their sides: all of these things provide living areas for creatures, as well as food, shelter from predators and some space to be live in peace from human interference.
However – there is one creature you probably don’t want to entice into your garden… cats! As lovely as they are, next door’s feline friend is an unwelcome visitor if he’s using your carefully curated vegetable patch as his local toilet. So, deter him gently by planting Coleus Canina – an unusual plant that emits an odour cats find really offensive but is in no way harmful.