In June I set my self the challenge of posting a picture on instagram each day of native wildlife in my garden to support the Wildlife Trusts 30 Days Wild 2021 campaign held in June each year. It was enjoyable as it gave me an excuse to sit, stop, stare and find out what was living in my garden. Having established a wildlife friendly garden, a variety of insects, birds and amphibians were present. For me it was important to show the diversity that can exist in the garden, if given a chance.
Nothing I found in my garden was particularly rare, and neither should it be. It was also only a small snap shot of what exists in my garden as I am no entomologist able to identify every fly or beetle.
Nature is so important to our survival to have the friends I found in my garden was hugely reassuring to know I’ve got a habitat that is supporting natures eco system and a productive garden. I found great satisfaction and comfort seeing a variety of bees, hoverflies, moths, damsel flies, lace wings, spiders and beetles all doing a job and finding a home such as pollinating or picking off the explosion of aphids. The large colony of frogs worked hard each night picking off slugs and to know I have breeding smooth newts in the tiniest of ponds just underpins the importance of gardens as habitats. Blackbirds, sparrows, robins and blue all took the garden as nursery to feed their young and a family of Goldfinches have decided to nest in the roses on my pergola. Build it and they will come!
Here are a few tips to help you get the most of your garden for you and nature, you will be amazed what a few small changes can do:
1) Probably one of the biggest threats at the moment to gardens is astroturf. Walk away from the astroturf, it creates a barren habitat, has a high carbon footprint, kills wildlife, and makes your garden hotter. It’s as damaging as concreting over your garden.
2) Put the chemicals away and use plants that will draw in natural predators, be patient and tolerant as the pests will come first, then the predators will find them.
3) Take time to look at what wildlife you have, what it’s using and what’s around your garden
4) Build a pond no matter how small or even if in a container, with a few aquatic plants
5) Allow an area of grass to grow long or oversow with a meadow mixture
6) Have some form of hedge/shrub layer, or climbers growing up your fence to provide cover and shade for birds and insects
7) Don’t be too tidy, detritus such as fallen leaves is a great habitat and food source, even better, have a logpile or a rock pile
8) Use a diversity of different flower shapes as pollinators all have different needs. Also choose plants that flower at different times and avoid double flowers. Look out for the RHS plants for pollinators logo. Use annuals an perennials
9) Use native plants among your non natives
10) Provide bee, bug and birdhouses
11) Plant a small tree if you can, use techniques such as pollarding or cloud pruning if size worries you