I have a radio in my bathroom which is tuned into BBC Sussex, all the other radios in my home are tuned to Radio 4. I often wonder why I do this because BBC Sussex, being the local radio station, is always full of interesting interviews and comments. I only get to listen to them in the morning when I am having a shower or bath so I am aware I miss lots of useful information.
Yesterday morning Wednesday 28 December, Neil Fletcher from the Sussex Wildlife Trust came on to talk about Wildlife Gardens and it caught my attention. This was something I thought I could do in my garden for 2012, it has ivy to feed the birds and insects and stone walls to give them a home.
Apparently there are approximately 15 million gardens in the UK, which in total is a bigger area than all our nature reserves put together. Our gardens could make one giant nature reserve if we were to have a slight shift in the way we garden. The interviewer asked Neil what we could do as gardeners to make our gardens more attractive to wildlife and the reply was “Almost nothing”. He talked about The Big Wildlife Garden Competition which is being run jointly between the RHS and The Wildlife Trust.
The following easy suggestions were given, the majority of us do most of these anyway:
- Don’t tidy the garden at the beginning of Winter. Leave the perennials to die down naturally, they make great homes to insects which feed the birds.
- Leave a patch of lawn to grow, even if it is only a small area, to allow wildflowers to grow. This will encourage insects and butterflies.
- No garden? Patio pots and window boxes can provide food for insects. Plant herbs, such as lavender, which will be nectar to bees.
- Have a pile of rocks or wood to give home to insects. This can even be done if you only have a patio or balcony.
- Remove the fish from your pond. You will have clearer water and have no need for a filter unit. Also the fish eat insects that are living in the plants.
After the programme I hopped along to the The Big Wildlife Garden website to take a look at what it was all about. I clicked on the My Garden tab and filled in information about my garden, posted a photo and completed the Wildlife Wonders section in which you earn points according to what you already have in your garden.
There are four main areas of things that can be done to make your garden more wildlife friendly:
- Water and food
- Plants and planting
- Habit and shelter
- Sustain and enjoy
It’s always fun to gain awards, the aim is to achieve the Green Award and I have earned a Silver Certificate with what I have in the garden already. The next step is to add further “wildlife wonders” and the website is packed full of information and ideas. I was delighted to find out –
- the moss in my lawn is a good habitat along with the clover – phew!
- My cursed ivy is a big bonus the dense is home for insects and birds and the nectar and berries is a valuable food source.
- The holly, elderflower and rose hips left on my climbing rose earned me 4 points.
There is also a diary to help you log any achievements and ideas and a map showing other participants with the ability to contact them and share ideas, if you felt you wanted to be that involved.
It’s a different type of gardening that will just take a little shift at the way we garden. It shouldn’t be too difficult for most of us, I don’t think many have ‘manicured’ lawns and perfect flowerbeds, do we? Perhaps, as garden bloggers, can all join up and once a month post an update as to our progress. Visit the website, it’s fun to look at if nothing else, and if you feel so inclined you can also enter your garden into the Big Wildlife Garden competition.
- Big Wildlife Garden competition: Time to put life back into Britain’s gardens (telegraph.co.uk)
- Going native: now’s a great time to get planting (guardian.co.uk)
- Prize to find Britain’s best wildlife gardens (telegraph.co.uk)
- Top 10 ways to attract more wildlife (telegraph.co.uk)
- Let’s all go wild in the garden (telegraph.co.uk)