Just this week, survey results revealed that man-made wild-life homes don’t work and can be a waste of money. So, if you have found this is the case in your garden, what can you do to make your garden more wild-life friendly? The following information and photos show you what I have done to successfully attract animals, birds and insects into my garden which makes it not just visually pleasing, but highly functional and a haven for a variety of species.
Meet Henderson our hedgehog. He has clearly shunned all man-made shelters in favour of the luxury pad he has found in the corner of my vegetable patch. And why wouldn’t he? This woodpile, created out of tree branches blown down in a gale, is enhanced by dry grape-vine leaves every year (and also some still-fermenting grapes which might explain his tottery progress round the garden occasionally) and this year, two old and woody discarded lavender plants. I challenge any hedgehog to find a warmer, more secure and fragrant nest this winter. All this comes with food on tap; frogs, slugs and plenty of woodlice to my knowledge. Perfect.
Butterflies & Bees
Apart from the usual apple blossom, sedum, and buddleia’s which are particularly attractive to butterflies I also leave the nettle patch to thrive near the aforementioned woodpile as this encourages many species of butterflies. Bees arrive in droves, attracted by the lavender hedge, honeysuckle, cornflowers and teasles.
Not everyone likes squirrels and wants to attract them to their garden. I personally find them fascinating to watch and currently have two regular visitors who thieve the bird’s peanuts from the various feeders spread around the garden. These are incredibly intelligent, determined and agile animals and however difficult I try and make it for them, they always get their nut rewards in the end. It is also funny to watch them dig small holes in the lawn and flower pots to bury their treasure and I quite often find monkey nuts and peanuts the next spring when I dig over the borders and replace compost in the pots. I do have squirrel-proof feeders as well which protect sufficient food to keep the birds happy.
Feeding birds during the winter months clearly attracts them to your garden and I supplement fat balls, peanuts and nyger seed by growing sunflowers and teasles which provide birds with fresh seeds in abundance. Plants and shrubs which produce juicy berries in the autumn not only add colour to your garden after the main flowering season is over but also provide a feast for the birds. Good choices are cotoneaster, berberis and holly. One word of advice in the autumn. Try not to park your car under trees, eaves or wires where birds gather. You are likely to come back to a car splattered with the rainbow-remains of these berries which can be hard to remove!
Not so obvious is the growing of pampass grass. Last spring I watched a family of sparrows strip four spears of pampas to feather their nest. It must have been like a down-quilt to them and their offspring and I hope they will be back next spring for more bedding.
Frogs & Pondlife
I have a relatively small garden and therefore a huge pond was not an option. However, you don’t need a large pond to encourage frogs. My pond which is approximately 3 feet round, is full of frogs, with the surrounding marginal plants and lush foliage providing the shelter and damp conditions which slugs just love. Froggy-food by the ton!
The best thing about all this? Very little effort and expense for great rewards. Let’s hope it continues