An alternative A-Z of gardening for wildlife, regeneration, and wilding, Part 4

An alternative A-Z of gardening for wildlife, regeneration, and wilding, Part 4

M is for mammals and mice – You haven’t forgotten them, have you? Mammals and mice may not be that visible as you lie in your bed at night, but the long drawn-out hoot of the tawny owl coming through your window tells you they are there. You can begin to hear the benefits of your ‘well-managed’ garden.

N is for nestboxes and nettles – When I was a child, we only ever put up a blue tit nest box,. But you are in control now and there is so much choice with boxes catering for birds, bees and bats. My latest additions are house martin nest boxes and a swallow cup sheltered under one of the eaves which is loved by spotted flycatchers each summer. Now every ‘gardening for wildlife’ book will say to grow nettles for peacocks, tortoiseshells, and red admiral caterpillars. However, you normally require a big block to attract these beauties, maybe too big for your garden. I grow them therefore in smaller pockets where they provide great cover for nesting hedge sparrows, blackbirds, and blackcap, especially if you allow them to grow up into a hedge or shrub. Leave them in the Winter and bullfinches will appreciate their seeds when snow covers the ground.

O is for orchards and observation – I have never quite understood why gardeners grow non-fruiting ‘flowering’ trees like cherries when you can have blossoms and fruit. If you are able put in an orchard and see a succession of blossoms from Damson, through plums, cherries pears, and apples, from March to May and then harvest from August to October. To realise the success of your wildlife garden you will need to observe what is happening. May I recommend a moth trap as a brilliant way to get children involved and interested in the world around them?

P is for Ponds and plastic – If insects are the foundation for your garden, then for square foot productivity a pond is the single biggest gain you can make and the easiest way to get children inspired. Without our pond, I would never see a grey wagtail in our garden. Now plastic gets a bad wrap and quite rightly but there is one single piece I would recommend for the garden. The Rotol compost convertor takes all your raw kitchen waste (non-meat) and just eats it in no time, leaving a rich humus. Also great for breeding the striped brandling worms when fishing for perch.

To be continued in the next blog...


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