An alternative A-Z of gardening for wildlife, regeneration, and wilding, Part 2

An alternative A-Z of gardening for wildlife, regeneration, and wilding, Part 2

E is for Edge and elbow grease – Nature adores an edge, that natural boundary between two ecosystems. Hunt and feed in the shorter grass within easy reach of somewhere to dive for cover. I see three common garden edges. Different heights of grass, (mown paths) woodland edges (trees and shrubs), and water land (ponds). They also then create that great diversity of species. I say elbow grease because strimmers kill everything and just because something is not a flowerbed does not automatically mean no weeding is required. I remove a lot of thistles, docks, and nettles by hand.

F is for Feeders and fungi - I put out bird feeders only for the hunger gap from January through to the end of March, placed under a mass of tangled climbing roses relatively safe from sparrowhawks and sheltered from the weather. Black sunflowers seeds for greenfinches, chaffinches, coal, blue and great tits, plus nuthatches, niger seed for goldfinches, redpolls, and siskin, and lastly some fat for the long-tailed tits and robins. Dunnocks scavenge below. A few scattered apples on the lawn for the blackbirds, mistle thrushes, fieldfares, and redwings. I have a small stand of birch trees below which emerge each October stands of fly agaric ‘little people’ fungi and boletus. They are as much a joy to see as any seasonal flower. Additionally, all those piles of dead wood encourage further fungi bringing benefits to the overall soil fertility with their magical benefits.

G is for green woodpeckers and grass snakes – The chemical-free lawn encourages green woodpeckers all year round. A wonder of natural camouflage from above blending with the green swards and when he ‘yaffles’ his way up to a tree you can see the holes he has left in the soil hunting for ants like some giant snipe. When it is warm the grass snakes come hunting in the pond terrorising the frogs and crucian carp

H is for hedges and hives - Look how the robin sitting in the hedge flies out and grabs a spider only he can see, before flying back to cover. All the boundaries now have mixed native hedging, bringing food, shelter, and highways we don’t even realise exist. And quiet sheltered corners, where on windy days the flycatchers can hunt in peace. The hives have been a revelation in how they have increased our fruits and beans, but imagine how they must also provide extra food sources for all those fruits we humans ignore.


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