Wildlife gardening tips

Here’s a useful looking blog from Graham Eaglesham (posted below with his permission) with lots of things anyone can do to encourage more wildlife into the garden. Apart from just ‘letting things grow wild’, most of these don’t have to make the garden look untidy and are quite easy to do, though a change of mind-set from ‘tidy’ to ‘natural’ or ‘informal’ at least in some parts of the garden, would help even more wildlife of course!

The only wild plants I would suggest not tolerating (or at least keeping well on top of) in a wildlife garden are Creeping Thistle, docks, brambles, and Blackthorn which suckers, as all of these can quickly take over grassy areas to the detriment of more desirable wildflowers. Marsh Thistle and Common Sorrel are much better in the small garden as they host many of the same insects as their larger relatives, whilst Bramble and Blackthorn if they are to be tolerated are best restricted to a boundary hedge!


Gordon Eaglesham blog Song Thrush

“There’s been a lot of talk recently in Britain about grand plans for ‘ecological restoration’. But what about rewilding on a smaller scale?  At a time when our garden wildlife is suffering from the effects of overly manicured lawns, pesticide-laden vegetation and a general lack of habitat connectivity, there’s never been a better time to inject some much needed wildness into your garden.  Here are some suggestions on how to go about it and some information on the species that could benefit as a result.

  • Let things grow wild.  Sounds very simple, and it is!  Just sit back and let nature take its course.  This is the easiest and arguably, most productive thing you can do to improve biodiversity.
  • Create log and leaf piles and compost heaps, which provide an ideal dwelling for hibernating hedgehogs, toads and newts.
  • Install a pond.  This could attract a wide variety of wildlife, such as toads and dragonflies and needs little maintenance.  Or if that’s not suitable, even keeping a dish of fresh water out should attract more birds.  Having a water feature in the garden is one of the best things you can do to boost biodiversity.
  • Plant wildflowers and develop a mini-meadow ecosystem; this will be a haven for enticing myriad insect species, which in turn, will attract birds and small mammals, such as voles and shrews.  Voles and shrews then increase the chances of larger predators, such as kestrels, foxes and badgers, establishing themselves nearby.
  • Put up nestboxes and bat boxes.
  • Stop using pesticides and metaldehyde* slug pellets.  The latter are toxic to hedgehogs.
  • Ensure there is plenty dead wood lying around.
  • Create hedgerows and rock piles.  Hedges function like a woodland in  microcosm and can support a wealth of bird species; rock piles and hedgerows can act as a den for species such as Stoat and Weasel.
  • Remember, a dense, tangled, rotting pile of vegetation is good!
  • Grow trees and shrubs with berries.
  • Allow as much variety in the garden as possible, whether it’s plant species or types of habitat.
  • Keep your green space as undisturbed as possible.
  • Check that any plants you have, or acquire, are not poisonous to wildlife and are, ideally, native species.
  • Keep your weeds!
  • Encourage moss and lichen growth.  Both are widely used by birds for nest building material.
  • Construct a rockery, which can support a rich variety of insects”.

Gordon’s always interesting wildlife blog can be read here.

*I have added the ref to metaldehyde as organic slug pellets containing ferrous phosphate are meant to be a lot safer to birds and mammals – see earlier post on Westfield Wildlife here. Ralph

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    WESTFIELD WILDLIFE has been created for Westfield residents and visitors to submit news and photos of any wildlife observed in the Parish. We also aim to post our own sightings and topical wildlife news as often as time allows.

    WESTFIELD PARISH lies just to the north of the coastal town of HASTINGS in E. Sussex (south east UK), and a MAP of the area covered by the Parish is here http://www.westfieldvillage.co.uk/maps

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