More than one in ten of the UK’s wildlife species are facing extinction and the numbers of the most endangered creatures have plummeted by two-thirds since 1970, the Guardian reports. The destructive impacts of climate change, urbanisation, and intensive farming have our wildlife in trouble. And while you may think simply changing the way you garden isn’t enough to help, it can make all the difference. In the UK, fifteen million gardens span 270, 000 hectares, which is larger than all the National Nature Reserves combined. If everyone began making their gardens more wildlife-friendly, these helpful creatures would have no shortage of food, shelter, and water all year long.
Choosing wildlife-friendly flowers
To attract wildlife all year round, plant a combination of annual, biennial, and herbaceous flowering plants. Most plants need specific amounts of sunlight and soil conditions, so research what plants thrive in your area. It’s best to choose flowering plants with one layer of petals, since these are easier for bees to access. Arable flowers, such as poppy, cornflower, and corn marigold, are a great choice. While modern hybrids with layers of petals look nice, they don’t offer much pollen and nectar for wildlife.
Keeping your own bees
Keeping bees will ensure your garden eventually ends up with even more flowers and plants. Moreover, protecting pollinators is essential for our food supply. Beekeeping requires the right equipment, such as a beehive and a bee smoker, as well as the proper protection including a hat and full-body suit. Before you get started, study up on how to look after bees or attend local classes. As a new beekeeper, there’s much to learn, but if you’re motivated it’s an extremely rewarding way to spend time.
Maintaining your garden
Be careful not to over-weed. Pollinators love weeds like buttercups and daisies and since these flowers are also in decline, keeping them in your garden has a double benefit. After the summer, wild annual plants may establish themselves in between your other plants. They provide seeds for birds, so leave them in place. You can use mulch instead of weeding to keep unwanted plants at bay, retain soil moisture, and boost worm populations.
Final tip: embrace messiness! Untidy gardens attract wildlife. Let flowers turn to seed to provide food and shelter for birds and insects throughout winter. Don’t dispose of dead leaves and plant stems: birds use them for their nests, hedgehogs hibernate under them, and lacewings and ladybirds overwinter in hollow stems. Follow these tips and you’ll soon have a beautiful garden thriving with wildlife.