Wild About Gardens - a collaborative project between the Wildlife Trusts and the Royal Horticultural Society - has come up with a series of recommendations to help gardeners help wildlife.
Simon Thornton-Wood, Director of Science & Learning for the RHS, said, 'The media has been full of stories which could impact on wildlife (bird flu, freak weather conditions and the proposed closure of three key wildlife research centres). However, the story is not all doom and gloom. Our survey revealed that the desire to help is there, and now is the time for gardeners to put those thoughts into action. Several of Britain's threatened and endangered species can be supported by gardens as our own backyards increasingly become alternatives to disappearing natural habitats. And it is not just the 'wild garden' that can help: the most well-tended garden attracts as interesting a variety of wildlife.'
The Wild About Gardens
project is offering the following tips to help declining species which make use of our gardens.
): Build a log pile, leave dead wood where it falls, keep tree stumps in place. Keep water butts covered, as stag beetles are attracted to water, but drown once in it. Stag beetles mainly occur south of a line from the Wash to Bristol.
): Many garden habitats are suitable, including trees, hedging, shrubs. Aside from slugs and snails, song thrushes eat worms, insects, berries and other fruit.
): Plant prickly native shrubs & climbers, seed feeders and sparrow terraces. Tree sparrows are also declining. Although mainly a farmland bird, they will use large gardens, particularly if nests are provided.
) spp.: These small bats are the ones that you are most likely to see flying around your garden. They need lots of insects and may typically eat 3,000 midges in a night. So plant your garden to attract insects - have a variety of flowers, including night-scented ones, to attract moths and other insects. A pond, or marshy area will provide a home to the larvae of the midges that Pipistrelles rely on.
Great crested newt
): Build a pond. This amphibian is more likely to be found in larger ponds, with a good area of planting or rough grassland around it as it spends its time on land outside the breeding season. It needs a plentiful supply of invertebrates. Gardens ponds are especially important for all amphibians, including smooth newts, frogs and toads. Ponds are disappearing from the wider countryside.
): They have shown an alarming decline, according to surveys by the Mammals Trust UK and The People's Trust for Endangered Species. They need woodland edge and hedgerow, and will feed on slugs, snails, beetles, worms, and caterpillars. Provide leafy, twiggy places for hibernation. Avoid slug pellets.
) spp.: Provide pollen and nectar plants from February onwards - for example, red clover, poppies, foxgloves and catmint. Leave some tussocky grassy areas, preferably in warm sheltered locations, for nest sites.