News: Spring/Summer 2006
Wild about Gardens 2006 campaign
Appeared on Space For Nature on May 23rd 2006
The Wildlife Trusts and RHS have launched their 2006 wildlife gardening campaign with the help of Ribena and Lorraine Kelly.
Lorraine Kelly said 'I love seeing wildlife in my garden. There's a huge variety of animals - countless birds, lots of hedgehogs and even the occasional deer. Our whole family feels very strongly about doing all we can to preserve the wonderful array of wildlife that lives in Britain. I didn't realise what a difference it makes for wildlife to make sure they have the right conditions to thrive. It's essential to consider the structure and design of your garden carefully to allow as many species as possible to flourish.
Lorraine's Top 10 Tips to Wildlife-Friendly Gardening are:
- Love your lawns - but find romance in the rough
Rough grass margins have been successfully established on Ribena blackcurrant farms across the UK, helping local wildlife to flourish. If you have an area of lawn that is difficult to cut, leave it to grow throughout the summer and cut it at the end of the season. This will provide an excellent habitat for many insects, particularly moths, grasshoppers and beetles, and newly-emerged frogs.
- Curves are key
Create mini-suntraps in your flowerbeds for sun-loving plants and creatures by shaping your borders to maximise exposure to sunlight. A gently curved edge will provide more aspects to the sun than straight-edged borders.
- Outdoor architecture
The more variety there is within the structure and design of your garden, the greater the number of options for visiting and resident wildlife. Think about having a range of different heights in the garden, both with physical structures like pergolas and sheds or existing slopes and banks.
- The hedge pledge
Consider replacing an old fence with a hedge. One that contains a variety of species, and ideally native varieties, is best for wildlife. If you prefer a single-species hedge, consider plants that have added wildlife interest, such as berry-producing shrubs.
- Climbing walls and fences
If space is premium in your garden, you can effectively increase its size by using these vertical surfaces. Attach a trellis or other support to them, and grow a variety of climbing plants up them such as ivy or honeysuckle. They add interest to the garden, and provide valuable homes for wildlife. If there is no open soil by your fence or wall, then you can grow climbing plants there in containers.
- Trees please
On the other hand, if your garden is large enough, try to include at least one tree, as some birds like to sing from a high 'song-post'. Native trees will support a huge number of insects that, in turn, will provide food for larger animals and birds. The Ribena growers have made the most of the space on their farmland by planting trees that help local wildlife.
- Every drop counts
A water feature will introduce real variety into to your garden but do source the water responsibly. Rainwater collected in water butts can be used to fill water features. Ponds are excellent breeding grounds for dragonflies and amphibians, especially if they don't contain fish. You can even use the excess soil from digging your pond to create additional contours for the garden. If you have limited space, a simple bird bath or pebble fountain will provide a great place for animals to drink.
- Continue the organic revolution
Recycle organic leftovers from the kitchen and garden to create compost. Your neighbours will turn green with envy when they see how well-nourished and fertile your soil is. Even better, the compost heap will make an ideal home for insects and small animals like hedgehogs and caterpillars, as well as a rich feeding ground for birds and beetles.
- Create communities
Help wildlife thrive by providing additional features such as bird feeders and bird and bat boxes. You can buy seed or leave out food scraps for birds throughout the year, although be careful not to leave cooked food lying around if it doesn't get eaten, as it may attract vermin. Ribena has implemented these measures across all 41 of its UK farms to help ensure the future of native British wildlife, encourage biodiversity and preserve species.
- Springtime snipping
Follow the lead of the Ribena growers by delaying cutting back perennial shrubs and plants until the spring. The seed heads that remain provide valuable food for birds and other animals through the winter, while the stems and foliage provide beneficial shelter for hibernating insects.
Andrew Davis of The Wildlife Trusts, the UK's leading conservation charity dedicated to all wildlife, said 'The Wild About Gardens partnership will help the battle for the preservation of several species, including the stag beetle (Dorcus parallelipipedus), song thrush (Turdus philomelos), hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) and bumblebee. The UK's gardens provide more green spaces than all the designated National Nature Reserves combined. This huge area can help wildlife thrive, at a time of habitat loss and climate change
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