Ahead of our wildlife gardening course, the Eden Gardening Team shares five tips on how to attract wildlife to your garden – from cuddly-looking hedgehogs and brightly coloured birds right down to the less glamorous, yet just as important, insects and worms.
Why bother with wildlife gardening?
Because Britain’s gardens provide a safe haven for wildlife across the country.
- There are 2.5 million trees in London’s gardens. That’s the equivalent of 30% of all National Trust owned woodland in the country.
- Populations of birds such as blackbirds, dunnocks and thrushes are higher in people’s gardens than in the surrounding British countryside.
How to attract wildlife to your garden
- Create wildlife corridors
Fences and walls can be a real barrier to wildlife coming to your garden. Small mammals like hedgehogs, voles, mice and shrews need a way in and through your garden, because they naturally range widely in search of food. Try leaving a gap underneath your fence, which a hedgehog could squeeze through, or talk to your neighbour about removing a few bricks from a shared garden wall.
- Feed the birds all year round
Most of us tend to feed birds during the winter only, but birds often become reliant on birdfeeders as a source of food throughout the year. So make sure you stock up the birdfeeder during the warmer months too.
- Choose plants that will feed the birds
When choosing new shrubs and flowers, think about varieties that will offer food to the birds. For example, some flowers form seed heads that can be left on the stem throughout autumn, such as teasels, sunflowers and thistle-type flowers. Berries are a good bet, too.
- Plant flowers that attract insects
Choose new plants which attract birds, butterflies and the like. Remember, these aren’t just spectacularly beautiful flowering plants, but even more common bushes such as buddleia. If you search around you can find all sorts of different buddleia varieties which come in colours ranging from white to blue to pink. An easy way to get the right plants is to choose a packet of mixed seeds designed to attract butterflies. Get more tips on attracting butterflies to your garden.
- Leave some mess
Insects and small mammals like to make their home in piles of wood or long patches of grass, so don’t be too keen to tidy everything up in the garden. Or you could create an insect home out of junk. Remember, if you want cute little mammals and birds in the garden, they rely on a thriving insect population for food, so make sure you don’t forget the bugs!
Learn more about wildlife gardening on a practical half-day course with the Eden Gardening Team on Thursday 7 March 2013. You’ll learn about the wildlife-friendly techniques we use to manage the Eden plot, get a tour of our insect homes, and find out about the right plants and cultivation techniques to attract wildlife to your own garden. Book a place on the course.
With thanks to Steve Burrell.
Photo: Chris Chappell