Monday, 19 April 2004

Charity begins at home -- make your garden wildlife friendly

I hope we all try and practice what we preach. On a modest scale I try and make sure that the gardens of all the places I have owned are havens for wildlife. At the end of last year my wife and I moved home, and now live just over a mile from the HQ of the World Land Trust. And this spring my latest book "Attracting Garden Wildlife" was published, in which were included many pictures taken in my previous garden. I am now in the process of developing a new 'intensive' wildlife garden. Doing everything I can think of (within a very limited budget).

I have already put down sheets of corrugated iron, and found at least five grass snakes and three slow worm under them. Nest boxes have gone up, including some for house martins and tree creeper. A single large oak contains 14 nests in a rookery, Barn Owls hunt the meadow areas, and we have seen Muntjac less than 100 metres from the garden. The main features missing are ponds, but that will be rectified as soon as funds permit.

Future plans include owl boxes, jackdaw boxes, wood piles for lizards and a manure heap for the grass snakes to nest in. Time will tell which birds nest, but there are several chiffchaffs calling and at least two pairs of blackcaps.

The adjacent churchyard is full of cowslips, and there are a few snakes' head fritillaries – perhaps there will be orchids in a few weeks time.

We are fortunate in having nearly three acres, but perhaps more important than the size of our garden is the fact that it is adjacent to other gardens, as well as the churchyard. Many suburban gardens are small, but taken en masse, they are part of a very large habitat for wildlife. So if you have a garden, maximise its potential for wildlife -- in particular avoid pesticides, as many gardeners use them more profligately than the most cavalier farmers. And add features that will attract wildlife -- areas of long grass, compost heaps, wood and brush piles, nettle patches, as well as the more obvious features such as nest boxes and feeders.

1 comment:

  1. I think we should all keep areas of our gardens for wildlife. It is amazing the number of insects, birds and animals that are attracted - much more interesting than just watching flowers alone. Would WLT think about selling insect/bird/bat/owl boxes to encourage this and raise funds?