CREATE YOUR GARDEN PATCH FROM SCRATCH
It’s time to invite other wildlife into editor Matt’s garden, including bees and bugs!
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