It’s time to in­vite other wildlife into ed­i­tor Matt’s gar­den, in­clud­ing bees and bugs!

Bird Watching (UK) - - Photo Feature David Tipling - BY MATT MER­RITT

POND COM­PLETE, WE’VE turned our at­ten­tion to the rest of the back gar­den, as well as to the front. OK, I know the lat­ter isn’t strictly within the re­mit of this gar­den patch chal­lenge, but birds be­ing what they are, they flit pretty read­ily from one to the other, so mak­ing one wildlife-friendly in­volves do­ing the same to the other, too. So, let’s get to work!

First task for me was cre­at­ing some bee and bug ho­tels. Some chunky off-cuts from our Field Maple and from a Vibur­num bush were ideal for this. I cut them all to roughly the same length, and then drilled the ends with holes of a va­ri­ety of sizes. These need to be rea­son­ably deep – about 3cm – and make sure you clear the saw­dust from the hole and sand off the edges so that in­sects don’t dam­age them­selves go­ing in and out. Af­ter that, I stacked them roughly in a sunny spot near the Field Maple, and now it’s just a mat­ter of wait­ing to see if the holes get plugged by soli­tary bees. At the back, we’ve planted sun­flow­ers, which should not only look great but also pro­vide our vis­it­ing birds with seeds in au­tumn. And ev­ery­thing we planted last month, with the ex­cep­tion of the rhubarb, is do­ing well, too. The pre­vi­ous own­ers had left a full com­post bin, and we’ve used it lib­er­ally where nec­es­sary. Through­out all the dig­ging and weed­ing, in­ci­den­tally, we’ve found only a cou­ple of slugs, but a lot of Hedge­hog poo – we’re pretty sure the

large Hedge­hog we no­ticed last month is vis­it­ing reg­u­larly and hoover­ing them up, prov­ing just how ef­fec­tive nat­u­ral pest con­trol can be. Later in the sum­mer, we’ll take a look at cre­at­ing some Hedge­hog refuges so that one or more can hi­ber­nate in the gar­den over the win­ter. Fi­nally, at the front, that Vibur­num I men­tioned has been re­placed (large parts of it were dead) with an or­na­men­tal cherry tree, while we’ve got a bit of a dilemma about a young Ash that’s clearly self-seeded in the midst of sev­eral other bushes. Do we try to move it, to give it and its neigh­bours the best pos­si­ble chance of sur­vival? As far as new birds are con­cerned, the first few Swal­lows have gone over, and both Chif­fchaff and Black­cap have made fleet­ing vis­its to the Field Maple to sing and hope­fully sur­vey the bur­geon­ing in­sect life. Through­out our days of dig­ging, Robins were a con­stant pres­ence, com­ing to within a cou­ple of feet – I think we have a pair at both front and back, and there have been one or two face-offs be­tween these fiercely ter­ri­to­rial birds.

I stacked them roughly in a sunny spot ... and now it’s just a mat­ter of wait­ing to see if the holes get plugged by bees

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