I love having biodiversity and wildlife in my garden, I always try and keep the bird feeders topped up and leave a dish of water out during the summer months. I even try and make an effort to create a welcoming refuge for hedgehog hibernation, and on more than one occasion have been tempted to lure the baby foxes into the house and raise them as my own. I know… don’t worry, I’ve never actually done that.
This is all very well and good, but actually the majority of the wildlife activity in my garden was going on right in front of me unseen. There are so many benefits to having a garden with bees, butterflies, and slugs around, but I’d never really thought of them as ‘wildlife’. I assumed every garden had it’s fair share of bugs and didn’t feel bad about mowing the lawn or weeding all of the flower beds.
But then I thought, where does the wildlife go? If there’s no food for them or places to live, it could have a huge effect on the mammal wildlife around me too. I didn’t realise but the weeds I’d dug out were a paradise to small insects, the ‘unruly’ flowers provided food for bees, the ‘piles of rubbish’ was a hotel for beetles.
It may have been lockdown kicking in, either that or I was watching too much Gardeners World, but I decided to make my garden into a bug-haven. I wanted to boost the biodiversity and do my bit for the bees.
- I went online and bought a cheap bag of wildflower seeds and scattered them in three flowerbeds. They’re really easy to grow and can be so beautiful once you’ve created your mini meadow, and think of all that pollen you’re creating for the bees and butterflies (solidarity with the hay-fever sufferers there but don’t worry, just put a pair of goggles on and look at the pretty flowers)
- I also grew out some of my ‘weeds’, usually I’d rip them all up at the first sight but ones that would grow and flower, I just decided to keep – the bees are mad for them and there are loads of shades of purples, blues, and yellows. (Obviously there are still the true baddies, I remove bindweed for example).
- Something I hadn’t thought of was how I use my compost bin – to me it’s a stinky food bin but to most of the things living in your garden, it’s a five-star hotel with a tennis court on the roof, a free bar, and their very own private pool… with unlimited crisps. I took a good look in there and it’s thriving. Worms, ants, a few caterpillars, were munching away happily enough, and when you think about it, it’s a win-win. They get snacks, I get compost. I’d probably prefer snacks, but there we go.
- I made a really small (and in the grand scheme of things, quite pathetic) pond. You can too. All you need is an old container, fill it with water and decorate it with rocks, bricks, and twigs. It’s also super important to keep a little ramp to go in and out too for access. After only a week there’s algae growing there and the birds are using it to drink from.
- I left a pile of small twigs and feathers I found around the garden in a pile for the birds to pick for their nests. You can also use untreated dog hair for this (so nothing with flea solution), but never human hair. Because our hair is longer and thinner it can wrap around bird legs and the shampoo and hair product isn’t good for them either.
So right now, I’m pretty much a few tigers short of Carole Baskin. I’ve created a little haven right under my nose just by using materials already in the garden and in my house, in fact there’s an actual ‘buzz’ out there now that wasn’t there before. Biodiversity in your garden is so important, not just for the smaller creatures, but for the birds and other mammals who use it too.