Gardens for wildlife


Designing gardens for wildlife

Wildlife in a garden adds an extra dimension that all too often we gardeners take for granted. A garden without birds, bees or butterflies would indeed be a sterile environment and so we need to embrace the diversity that wildlife brings and take a more relaxed attitude.  

Top tips for a wildlife garden

There is so much pleasure to be had from watching the antics of the aerobatic blue tits as they swing upside down from a twig, or the robin perched on my spade or the evening song of the blackbird. Food, water and shelter are the chief attractions for birds in a garden and even a small garden can offer all three. A living boundary between gardens, such as a hedge, is not only more visually appealing than a fence but make a perfect wildlife haven without taking up too much more space. A hedge can make a good nest site, particularly intruder-proof hedges such as berberis, holly or hawthorn. If a  fence is essential, clothe it with various climbers to liven it up and provide nesting areas. Plants that produce autumn berries, such as cotoneaster or pyracantha are easy to grow and a magnet for thrushes. We find that more and more people are interested in attracting birds and wildlife into their gardens, and we have lots of ideas on how to do that! 
An Apple tree, makes a great source of food for a large variety of wildlife virtually all year round. If space is limited, a Crab Apple, such as the “Red Sentinel” with its brilliant autumn colour and bright red apples makes a wonderful focal point in a small garden in addition to making a fantastic feast for birds just when food is scarce.

Where to get ideas for wildlife garden design

Abbey House Gardens near Malmsbury in Wiltshire is a spectacular garden originally cultivated by monks for medicinal herbs. Paths lead  down to the bottom garden where there are shade loving plants, specimen trees and shrubs. When you take a walk along the the river, including St Aldhelm's Pool, you might be lucky to see Kingfishers and Yellow Wagtails.

Arley Aboretum near Bewdley in Worcestershire is home to over 300 species of trees and features a lovely Laburnum arch, measuring 65 metres. This is a popular garden for nature lovers with every season bringing different things to see. 

Barnsdale Gardens near Oakham were made famous by Geoff Hamilton of BBC’s Gardeners World. Over 5 acres of individually designed and well-stocked gardens, all built on peat-free, organic principles that Geoff espoused. Each one offers practical concepts that you can use at home as well as botanically labelled plants giving practical ideas for the visitor.