Making Wildlife Welcome in the Garden
Making your Garden Attractive to Wildlife
Last week I learnt a particularly painful lesson. I broke my finger in a futile bid to chase away one of the numerous visiting rabbits in my garden. The war to protect my precious flowers has been lost. Peace has been officially declared.
This experience has left me in a reflective mood. 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, dare I say, even towards rabbits.
Design a Garden for Birds
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.
Throughout the summer different species of butterfly will visit most gardens seeking food. They are easy to lure by providing plenty of nectar-rich blooms. The aptly named butterfly bush, Buddleia davidii, flowering now, is the first choice for attracting vast numbers of butterflies.
Water in the Garden to Attract Wildlife
If you want to make just one addition to attract wildlife into the garden, make it water. Even a small birdbath or tiny pond will be a mecca for birds, insects, frogs and newts. In so many of our gardens at this time of year it’s probably best to let nature takes its course and simply enjoy watching the various visitors.
In cold weather, water is important for our all our native birds so as well as laying on food you may want to consider opening a drinks bar. They aren’t too fussy – a simple bird bath will do the trick and they won’t turn their beaks up at an old dustbin lid, just make sure it’s kept clean and unfrozen and enjoy watching them splashing about.
If you have a larger garden, consider creating a wildlife pond or bog garden. A lush bog garden filled with moisture-loving plants will soon be found by toads, hedgehogs and many insects who will use the leaves for shelter.
By allowing nature to take its course, you can have a beautiful garden, filled with wildlife of all descriptions.