At a time when wildlife habitats are under threat, domestic gardens are increasingly vital refuges. Wildlife gardens are enjoyable and fulfilling for humans too!
Modern gardening is moving away from its former emphasis on taming and controlling nature. More gardeners are rejecting toxic chemicals, preferring instead to attract wildlife into the garden, and enjoy its contribution, rather than driving it away.
- Encourage and maintain a natural balance, by only using organic gardening methods throughout the garden
- Grow native plants that are adapted to your area
- Choose garden plants rich in pollen and nectar to attract beneficial insects
- Create as many different habitats as possible to broaden the appeal of your garden to wildlife
Design for nature
- The pond is the centrepiece of the garden. Amphibians like newts, frogs and toads, insects like dragonflies come to the pond to breed, while birds,snakes and foxes come to drink.
- The hedge is a mixture of native tree species: field maple, wild privet, alder, oak and buckthorn. Insects can overwinter here and the trees provide food, shelter and nesting sites for birds.
- The wildflower meadow contains a wide variety of native flowers and grasses. In summer, the meadow is abuzz with pollen-seeking insects. The meadow is only cut after the flowers have set seed. The hay is carefully removed, to maintain the poor conditions that wildflowers prefer.
- The dry-stone wall of local Kentish ragstone supports a raised alpine bed. The nooks and crannies of the wall are winter hiding places for newts and lairs for spiders and insects.
- A mixture of native and exotic plants have been planted in the alpine bed. A gravel mulch assists with free-drainage and provides yet another contrasting habitat.
A helping hand
Wildlife will feel especially welcome in your garden, with some purpose-built aids. Bird feeders, nesting boxes and hedgehog boxes will make them feel at home. Even your compost bin may provide a temporary dwelling for toads or hedgehogs. Don;t forget to check, before you empty-out the compost!
Having created your wildlife sanctuary, don’t forget to give yourself somewhere to sit and watch the wildlife. The bench was made by a local craftsman, from sweet chestnut.
While you are watching the wonderful wildlife in your garden, imagine the vast number of micro-organisms which are invisible to the naked eye. They too are an integral part of the web of life in an organic garden.
Original Garden Design: Sue Stickland
Some, or all of the above text may have originally been published by HDRA/Garden Organic (www.gardenorganic.org.uk) and is reproduced here, with their kind permission.