Space For Nature
Garden biodiversity forum

News: Spring/Summer 2006

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New wildlife gardening book published

Appeared on Space For Nature on April 12th 2006
The Wildlife Trusts, in association with the Royal Horticultural Society, have published a new book for people who want to encourage wildlife in their gardens.
The book, Wildlife Gardening For Everyone based on the Wild About Gardens project and is crammed with advice from a variety of RHS and TWT experts on how to develop and cultivate a wildlife friendly garden.

The following ideas are typlical of the advice to be found in the book:
  • You can attract butterflies to your garden by filling a milk bottle top with sugar solution (1 tsp sugar to 20 water) or soaking a piece of material in sugar solution and hanging it from a tree.
  • The harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) is a new species that arrived in 2004. It out-competes our native species for food, such as aphids but when food is scarce it even eats other ladybirds.
  • Stag Beetles (Lucanus cervus) are an endangered species and are mostly found in Southern England. They remain as larva for three years, but adults only live between the months of May and August. Scientists aren't sure if the adults eat anything at all.
  • Queen bumblebees often build their nests underground in old mouse nests in hedge bottoms and compost heaps. But in the last few decades two species have disappeared altogether. A bumblebee colony only lasts for a single summer. The queen is the only bumblebee to hibernate through the winter. In the spring she starts a new colony.
  • Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) is one of the most invasive plants that have been introduced from abroad. Outside of Asia it has no natural enemies to stop it's spread. A recent DEFRA report stated that the estimated costs involved in eradication would be 1.56 billion.
  • Composting provides a means of converting waste from both the kitchen and garden into a free, environmentally friendly sources of organic matter, which can be used to improve soil fertility in the garden, conserve soil moisture and enhance plant growth. It also diverts organic refuse away from the dustbin and ultimately reduce landfill.
  • Seaweed is a very useful material for improving the soil due to it's nitrogen and magnesium content. However according to the Coast Protection Act (1949) it is illegal to remove seaweed if it is protecting a beach. Contact the owner of the beach and the local council if you intend to harvest it, to get permission.
  • Herbs are the perfect all-purpose garden plants Thyme (Thymus sp.) and Mint (Mentha sp.) provide rich surface of nectar for solitary bees and butterflies and moths. Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) flowers are enjoyed by late summer insects.
  • There are approximately 12,000 species of Fungi in the UK - although no-one knows the exact number. They give vital nutrients to trees and plants and as a result trees and fungi have evolved together for the 130 million years. They are so close that the majority of trees root hairs are actually fungi.
  • During the past 100 years the UK countryside has lost almost 70% of its ponds resulting in the critically damaging reduction of a major form of habitat.
  • Frogs depend on their external environment for their body temperature. They need maximum protection from direct sunlight to present overheating and drying out in the summer, as well as cover and shelter from frost in the winter.
  • There are over 40 species of dragonfly and damselfly that can be found in Britain. Dragonflies even precede dinosaurs. Fossils have been found of specimens with wingspans of over 75cm.
  • Britain has 17 species of bat. One of these is the tiny common pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus), which can eat around 3,000 insects in a single night.
  • Grey squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) were first released in the UK in 1876 in Cheshire. They have no natural predators in the UK.
  • Moles (Talpa europaea) divide their days into four hour periods of activity alternating between feeding, digging or repairing tunnels or resting.
  • The fox (Vulpes vulpes) only has one natural predator other than dogs and man in the UK - the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos).
  • Hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) munch their way through around 100 slugs, beetles, caterpillars and insect larvae each night.
Wildlife Gardening For Everyone (12.99 Think Books) is available in the shops from 7th April. It can also be purchased online via The Wildlife Trusts website:
The Wildlife Trusts. 2006. Provide havens for wildlife in our gardens. Viewed at on April 12th 2006.

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