Create your garden patch from scratch
Editor Matt’s hard work in creating a garden for all wildlife has been reaping dividends, as he reveals here
Matt’s been evaluating what’s been working hard for the wildlife in his garden
WHEN I STARTED trying to create a wildlife garden back in January, the main aim was to ensure that there’s plenty of natural food available throughout the year, and as autumn draws on, I’ve been pleased to notice that a few happy accidents are helping to fulfil that aim.
The Honeysuckle we inherited from the previous owners is one of those. We cut it back in the spring, then trained it up the fence, and it has been a huge attraction for the bees and butterflies throughout the warmer months. It’s now got a good crop of bright red berries, which provide food for thrushes, warblers such as Blackcaps, and maybe even a species I’d dearly love to tempt into the garden – the Bullfinch (I heard one piping a couple of hundred yards away, so there’s hope). The Dogwood we planted, on the other hand, has found itself overshadowed by one of our buddleias, so we’ll learn from the experience and cut the buddleia back hard in the spring.
The other unexpected success has been the stonecrop we planted round the pond – this hardy plant (so called, supposedly, because it’s as easy to care for as a stone) is flowering beautifully in early autumn, providing food for bees and butterflies, as demonstrated in the picture below. Suitably encouraged, we’ve planted some more in a couple of the borders. We’ve had a good year for amphibians, and a Vierno Froglu (£4.49 from CJ Wildlife, pictured top right) next to the pond will give them somewhere to shelter and stay hidden during the day (they’ve found plenty of slugs to eat by night). You can achieve the same effect, though, and also offer cover for reptiles, by using a ridged roof tile as a refugium – place it where it’s stable, and with enough of a gap for something to get underneath. I’ve put up a wicker roosting pod for Wrens and other small birds to use in the colder weather (pictured below) and added a sprig of Lavender (another plant that’s done very well) to the bird bath. Only one new bird species to add to the
list this month, a loose group of four or five Sky Larks that flew over one morning, presumably heading to warmer climes. Certainly nothing as exciting as the Manx Shearwater that popped up in a garden in Dunchurch, just down the road (which was taken into care and subsequently released). So what next? Well, the corner of the garden containing our small shed gets plenty of sun, so I’m looking at the possibility of giving it a green roof, and planting a fruit tree of some sort in a space that we’ve cleared in the nearby border. Watch this space!
Bright red berries, which should provide food for thrushes, warblers such as Blackcaps, and maybe even a Bullfinch