Gardens are increasingly important havens for wildlife, and with just a few changes you can make your garden home to birds, butterflies and bees. If you’ve got the space, hedgehogs can find excellent accommodation in a corner of the garden, and even the smallest pond will encourage a frog to drop in. Frogs and hedgehogs are great slug and snail eaters, getting through them by the hundred. Gardening to encourage wildlife is not only good for the environment, but great fun for the whole family. Kids will enjoy checking out the visitors to a bug hotel, or a bird box, and watching for butterflies and ladybirds enjoying pollinator-friendly flowers.
Our garden birds are in decline, so anything that you can do to help them will make a real difference. Just by supplying food throughout the year, and fresh water, you can support up to fifty types of bird. We stock a wide range of food designed for the needs of different types of bird, and the all-important feeders. Many of these are decorative, and there are few sights as interesting as a well-stocked bird table catering for many feathered guests. We also sell plants that provide berries, fruits and nuts to feed birds, and trees to give them a safe home. And yes, we also sell cat deterrents and squirrel-proof feeders to tip the odds in favour of the smallest birds. A bird bath is essential; look for our range of traditional stone baths and our most eye-catching ornamental ones. Or why not install a small self-contained water feature for a bird-friendly centrepiece to your garden?
Bees need us...and butterflies too!
We stock a range of bug homes, from budget to five star accommodation. We stock wild flower plants in the spring, and throughout the year you can grow many other garden plants that have been commended as ‘bee friendly’ by the RHS. Just look for the symbol online or in our hardy plant area. You can grow your own wild flowers and bee-friendly plants from seed – look for our wide selection, including meadow mixes. If you’re fed up with weeding, why not declare a small area of your border to be a ‘wildlife haven’? Nettles are an excellent food source for many caterpillars, and (perhaps) will encourage them to stay away from your vegetables. Turn your fences into green buffets for insects (and birds) with one of our beautiful range of climbers or taller shrubs. All wildlife needs water, but adding a pond needn’t be a big project – if you’re short on space you can use a tub or container, and even a dish filled with pebbles and topped up with water will give the bees somewhere to drink.
The endearing little hedgehog is the gardeners’ best friend, chomping their way through slugs and snails all night long. If you’ve got hedgehogs in your garden you can make them hog-happy with our specially designed hedgehog houses. Pop one in a quiet corner of your garden, cover it in dried leaves, and see who comes to stay. But make sure your hedgehogs can come and go as they please, by giving them a hog-hole cut into the bottom of any fences or gates. It needs to be about the size of a CD. Hedgehogs need water, and are attracted to garden ponds. Please make sure that your pond has a shallow way out for any hedgehogs that take an accidental dip! A shallow dish of water provides a safer drinking venue. Hedgehogs really don’t like bread and milk, so give them suitable food and treats from our range of hedgehog food.
Here's a great website for detailed information http://www.wildaboutgardens.org.uk
Let's not forget bats
Bats have had a bad press, in fact they are fantastically effective insect-eaters, and their skilful flight is a treat to watch on summer evenings (and no, they won’t get stuck in your hair!). You can support and encourage bats simply by planting some night-scented flowers. While you enjoy the heady scent of evening primrose, night scented stock and musk roses, the bats will be scooping up the insects attracted to these plants. We also stock bat boxes to encourage them to roost in garden trees. Please note that bats are a protected species and if you do have them in your roof space or anywhere on your property, it is illegal to have them removed.
Native Plants - An excellent way to help beneficial insects prosper
Trees, shrubs and flowers that are native to the British Isles are species that have been growing here since the Ice Age. Many are decorative and most are very beneficial for pollinators. You may already be growing some native trees and shrubs. Familiar favourites such as box, holly, euonymus (spindle tree) and dog rose are all native plants. You can mingle native wild flowers into a traditional herbaceous border, as popular cottage garden plants such as aquilegia, harebells, foxgloves and violets all fit the bill. Many flowers will grow easily from seed, or you can buy trees and shrubs ready to plant in spring or autumn.
Planning a wildflower garden - In any size of garden
Many wild flowers and native plants are well known to gardeners – not all wild plants are weeds! Planting wild flowers brings life and colour to even the smallest space. You don’t need to create a big wild flower meadow, just a patch of wild flowers in a border or a pot will delight the beneficial insects. Wild flowers look their best in natural, informal planting groups. Try a sprinkling of primroses underneath a shrub that is bare in winter, or a drift of forget-me-nots beside a path. Wild species may look delicate, but they are usually easy to grow in the right spot, and can be the solution to that ‘tricky’ garden patch – wild flowers have adapted to grow anywhere from boggy pond sides to rocky slopes. Planting wild flowers helps create a diverse, food-rich habitat for insects and birds. All the wild flowers that we sell have been specially grown and not taken from the wild. They are intended for home garden use and should not be sown elsewhere.