This week is all about gardening for wildlife – easier said then done you may think, but actually, changing a couple of garden habits can make a big difference to our native species.
Any garden, no matter what size, can help have a positive impact on the surrounding environment. Even a few plants in pots on a patio will benefit bugs and birds as they feed on the nectar or seeds they produce, or a climbing plant grown up against a wall can provide shelter for a variety of creatures. The trick, however, is knowing what plants are best to use. Many garden centres and nurseries have very knowledgeable staff who will be more than happy to help if you ask them. There are also several decent books available on wildlife gardening full of tips, advice and how-to guides for all manner of projects that you could carry out, and they usually come complete with lists of the best plants to get for particular species.
Lets start with a sunflower – seeds can be bought readily in packets and are easy to grow yourself. They can grow fairly tall, depending on the variety you choose, and when the large flower blooms later in the summer they look very pleasing to the eye. Bees and butterflies will visit and as the flower dies off in the autumn don’t throw it away – they make a ready-made seed feeder for lots of birds too. Why not make it a fun family activity and have a go at growing one each and seeing who ends up with the tallest stem or biggest flower? When you are finally done then perhaps an unused corner of the garden, behind a shed or even a wooden box in an alleyway, can be used to put in your grass cuttings and dead plants to make a compost heap? Again insects will really appreciate the thought and you’ll also be reusing your own material next year, saving a few pennies for yourself at the same time!