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Welcoming Wildlife

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Geoff W. by Geoffrey Wakeling • Friday October 30, 2015 Follow Geoff W.

Gardeners around the world are told constantly to encourage wildlife and bring native fauna into their homemade oases. Whilst we do so much to rid the native flora from our gardens, we are actively encouraged to make a place for wildlife, by providing homes and breeding places in the garden. 

Whether it’s a tiny urban postcard patch, or a sprawling estate of acres in the country, measures can be taken to support local creatures. Whilst it’s a far cry from helping beloved endangered species such as tiger or orang-utan, every specimen holds its own importance on the ecological map. I firmly believe that encouraging wildlife into gardens is an absolute must if we are to conserve the planet and live alongside nature whilst doing as little damage as possible. But if you’re not that convinced, then here are a few good reasons to let nature takes its hold a little.

A leading requirement of encouraging wildlife is for conservation. Why do your bit? Well, why not? Because we’ve expanded into our native creatures territories we’re quickly eroding away the very places that they’ve called home long before humans ever arrived. You might have a park at the top of the road and a forest at the bottom, but if you make your garden inhospitable to wildlife then how are they supposed to get between these green spaces?

Providing a place to rest, feed, live and even breed in your own garden is a vital way of linking natural environments so that wildlife can travel around. Your local fox can easily nip down the street, raiding bins as he goes, but for a bouncing bumblebee or a frog looking for a water source, the length of street can seem a very long way to go. By offering a place to drink, thick shelter such as pyracantha and cotoneaster, and nectar rich plants including sedums, foxgloves and lavender, you aid bees, birds, butterflies and a host of other life on their travels.


Sensory Interest
If you’re creating a garden, then adding as many elements to stir the senses is important. In addition to a wide palette of planting colours, we use water in gardens to break the flowery borders and offer the calming sound of a trickling fountain or bubbling waterfall. Lights brighten the garden at night, whilst wind chimes draw us around garden paths in search of that beautiful sound. The added dimension of wildlife is second to none and if you’re offering places for wildlife to thrive, then your new song thrush sound system, low droning bee base, and fluttering butterfly entertainment is entirely free.

Whether you have a vegetable plot or an ornamental garden you’ll know that pollination is the key to success. Without pollination your crops will not yield a harvest and whilst ornamental plants will flower, their success and the resulting seeds for next year will be limited. Pollinators come in many forms and depending where in the world you live you may have bees, hummingbirds or even bats helping your garden reproduce. Bees themselves pollinate a vast majority of the world’s foodstuffs, whether it’s crops for our table or harvests to be fed to domestic farm animals that will also make their way to our kitchen. And without pollination the world is pretty much doomed.

Financial Savings
Bringing wildlife into your garden can actually offer financial savings, especially if you’re already a keen gardener but are using chemicals and controls to try and keep the pests away. Garden critters such as saw flies, weevils and slugs and snails will always make their way into your garden regardless of how desperately you try to rid them from your space. Attracting wildlife will benefit you hugely because they’ll snack upon these morsels, ridding the pests without need for extra, bought-in products. Araneus diamentus and its spider cousins will devour fly pests, hedgehogs and amphibians will snack on beetles, weevils and molluscs and, instead of wasting time picking of caterpillars or spending money spraying them, your local birds will quickly strip the majority away to feed to nestlings.


Gardening could, and should be, about creating an entire ecosystem in your own little personal space. You don’t have to give your entire garden over to wildlife, you just have to open your eyes, notice the early spring birdsong or the whir as a ladybird flies by and realise that your garden would be less enjoyable without these friends. And if everyone offered a small space, large or small, as a living, breeding or even a quick passing place for wildlife, every garden, and gardener, would benefit. 

Read more on The Guide to Gay Gardening ยป


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