River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Passionate About Plants

November 2010

Paul explains hor to create your own wildlife Garden

Creating your own wildlife garden is easy, whether you have a large garden, small suburban size or even a small back yard. Firstly we need to remember that your garden will be a mere service station for the majority of birds and mammals.

In the typical small cottage garden there should be enough room for you and a wide range of wildlife habitats. By planting a small group of small growing trees (e.g. silver birch) you can create the beginnings of a woodland glade. This will give you a small area to develop as a woodland edge, following onto a wildflower meadow (your lawn with areas of wildflowers). Create a small pond with boggy edges, add a bird table and feeders and your cottage garden service station is up and ready for business.

You will almost certainly want to create one space in which you can sit and enjoy the sunshine, if that can be close to the house then so much the better as you will be able to eat outside too. That space will want to be about the size of an average kitchen, any bigger and it will be draughty and begin to feel uncomfortable. When the weather is hot it is nice to have a space in the garden where you can sit in the shade too. This can be a tiny space just big enough to fit a bench. If this is tucked under the canopy of your "woodland glade" it will then provide you with the ideal spot to sit and watch the wildlife. By using a range of shrubs in woodland edge you can create the ideal habitat for small songbirds. They will enjoy a wide range of ornamental shrubs provided they are dense enough to provide protection and a good source of food. A good mixture of Cotoneaster and Viburnums mixed with Pyracantha, Mahonia and Lonicera and many other common garden shrubs would be ideal to start with.

Once you have created your pond with its adequate supply of water plants and marginal's it would be very useful to place a small stack of logs in your woodland glade to act as a toad house. This will also be very useful for a wide variety of beetle and woodlice. You must remember that in nature a woodland area is never neat and tidy, so allow your leaves to rot naturally under the trees along with some native wildflowers suitable for growing in your woodland glade. Some of the wild flowers suitable for woodland edge habitat are foxglove (digitalis purpurea), Bluebell (endymion non-scriptus), Wood cranes bill (Geranium silvaticum) and lots more including Lilly of the Valley, Wild Strawberry, Stinking Iris, Common Violet and of course red and white dead nettle.

As I have said before even your small back yard can house a lot of wildlife. Not only will Ivy growing against a wall provide shelter for nesting birds it is also an ideal place for butterflies to over winter. You can improve the efficiency of any climber by fixing your trellis a few centimetres away from the wall by using wooden blocks between the trellis and the wall, thus creating a larger area of protection. A pile of rotting logs is just the place for toads to lurk whilst bat boxes and bird boxes will make up for the lack of large old trees. A Bird bath and table will fit into the tiniest of spaces but do try to grow a few shrubs even in large pots to give the birds a bolt hole if they get spooked by any sudden movement.

I hope these few ideas will encourage you to think more deeply about your garden, the beauty and the beasts.

Happy Gardening.

Paul Markwell.

HND Com. Hort.

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