We received an enquiry recently from Rona in Peterborough. She asked:
I have been asked to take on the Reception class garden. Part of it is designated as the wildlife area. There is a buddlea bush but otherwise it is just grass. What can we do to make it a bit more wild and diverse?
My advice would be applicable for anyone wanting to increase the wildlife interest in their garden…so hope you find it useful.
1 Provide Plants for Shelter & Food
If you are just setting up your garden, or if you have a garden that is very open with perhaps just a lawn and fence, consider introducing some wildlife friendly plants.
Sorbus, Berberis and Pyracantha all have berries which are a good source of food for birds.
In Spring sow raised beds with Flower Meadow Seeds . These will give beautiful colour in the summer months and will also provide important nectar for butterflies. During April consider sowing flowers such as Honesty. This plant will appear year after year and is great early nectar for butterflies.
The native climber Old Mans Beard (clematis vitalba) can be planted at the base of a hedge or fence, and is good for bees, butterflies and moths.
For container gardening consider Marguerite plants in the summer months as they look so pretty but also attract butterflies and moths.
Lavender bushes provide nectar for bees and butterflies and seeds for birds when the flowers die back.
Other container plants to consider for their wildlife benefits include Sedum Spectabile (Ice Plant), Skimmia Japonica and Mexican Orange Blossom.
If you have the space, every garden benefits from having a few trees or large bushes. Consider Field Maple which will attract bees, moth caterpillars and hoverflies, and Laurel for shelter for birds, bees and hoverflies.
2 Provide Food for Birds
To encourage birds to your garden, provide a supply of food, particularly during the winter months. Seeds, peanuts, bread crumbs, chunks of cheese and windfall apples are all good sources of food. The bird bistro feeders are an excellent source of seeds for blue tits and finches and attach easily to a fence.
When providing food, think about attracting a variety of bird species. Putting food on the floor will encourage ground feeders such as blackbirds, thrushes, dunnocks and wrens. Hanging feeders of nuts and seeds will encourage finches and tits. The apple bird feeder is handy for those windfall or half eaten apples that the children have left, and fruit is an excellent bird food.
Food on a bird table will be popular with robins, sparrows, doves and pigeons.
Also don’t forget that birds also need a clean supply of water all year round and a bird bath is ideal.
For bird lovers the Gift Bird Feeder is a great present. Included are sunflower seeds, a fabulous flower bed feeder and wool spiral.
The perfect gift for Bird Lovers
Remember not to overfeed the birds though, as food left to go rotten will attract vermin, and harbour disease. So clean away excess food regularly with a Bird Table Cleaner and replace water each day.
3 Provide Nesting Pouches
Nesting pouches are useful for birds all year round. Not only will birds use them for breeding in the spring and summer months, these are also excellent places for providing winter shelter. At the end of the summer clean out bird boxes and nesting pouches ready for winter use.
And to encourage bats to roost in your garden these Wooden Bat Boxes are designed to meet their needs perfectly.
Wooden Bat Box Specially Designed to Encourage Bats to Roost
4 Provide Habitat for Mammals and Insects
Wildlife will thrive better in gardens where there are areas left to go a little wild. Leaf, twig and log piles are great refuges for insects and mammals, and also provide habitats for hibernation. So it’s a good idea to put piles in corners and quiet parts of the garden.
Crevices in rotting wood are great places for ladybirds and creepy crawlies to hide, and the Ladybird and Insect Tower is specially designed for this. Rotten tree stumps are also a favourite with woodpeckers, who delve into the wood with their beaks to find tasty grubs.
The hogitat is specially designed as a natural home and safe retreat for hedgehogs.
Hogitat - A perfect house for hedgehogs
The Solitary Bee Hive and Butterfly Feeding Station are perfect for increasing the diversity of insects visiting the garden, and Insect Study Centre and Solar Insect Theatre make studying insects at close quarters easy and fascinating in equal measure!
5 Sit Back & Enjoy!
After all the hard work of setting up your wildlife garden, it is so enjoyable to sit back and watch as things begin to happen. You will be amazed at how quickly birds, mammals and insects begin to investigate the new surroundings and set up home, and it is fascinating for both adults and children alike to watch as this magical process unfolds.
This fabulous selection of Wildlife Guides makes identifying your garden wildlife so much easier. And if you want to observe and record all the action at close quarters this Wildlife Surveillance Camera will provide great footage for classroom sessions.
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