With so much in the news about environmental issues it’s sometimes hard to know how to help. That’s why Helen the hedgehog is here with some great ideas to help create your own wildlife garden.
Bird buffet and bath
Birds like a good bath and it's essential they clean their feathers from time to time.bSo a bird bath in your garden will double as somewhere to drink and somewhere to bathe. A bird table holding a variety of foods will attract all kinds of my feathered friends. Peanut dispensers are a big hit with the likes of the blue tit and might also attract greenfinches and even the odd woodpecker. Seeds and bird food will bring finches and robins to your table while half a fresh coconut will prove a very special feast for all kinds of small birds
Create a compost heap
My bird friends love to feed off the creepy crawlies that live in a compost heap – and I’m quite fond of a nibble too! Be sure to check for sleeping wildlife before using the compost, because some of us, especially the toad, like to nap in nests in the centre.
Level up the flower power
My insect friends, like the butterflies and bees rely on nectar and pollen to feed. Help protect them by planting wildflowers from seeds. Please don’t remove them from the wild though, you can pick up wildflower seed packs at garden centres and even supermarkets.
Cut out the chemicals
Please, please don’t use pesticides or slug pellets in your wildlife garden or you risk killing off species that are essential in the animal food chain. You might also kill creatures you don’t wish to harm, like us hedgehogs. By helping hedgehogs, birds, bats, frogs and toads to survive the winter and provide places for them to raise their young, we’ll reward you by helping to keep garden pests under control!
Nesting boxes will help encourage hedgehogs like me, as well as birds and bats, into your garden – though we can’t promise we’ll stay permanently! Bird and bat boxes should be placed in trees with cover or fixed to walls or fences where there’s cover by bushes or hedges, and they’re out of reach of cats and other predators. Hedgehog boxes are best when they’re in a quiet spot, hidden by ground covering plants, low shrubs or tree branches. You can buy ready-made boxes from wildlife organisations.
Build a wood pile
This is a lovely place for me to build a nest. If left undisturbed, the wood will become covered in moss and algae, attracting insects that make a lovely dinner for larger garden creatures. The dark interior might also attract slow worms – a predator of the garden’s sworn enemy, the slug.
Rock a rockery
Did you know toads, newts and female frogs usually spend winter on land, under rockery stones or in a log pile? Help give them a cosy shelter this year by creating your own rockery. Recommended rock plants include aubretia, hardy geraniums, ivies, sedums and wild thyme.
This article was inspired by one of our customers in Heaton, Newcastle, who is an active member of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. Photographs and video she captured of a prickly friend in her back garden is even being used by the Government and wildlife protection organisations to spread the message about the importance of taking care of wildlife. What an inspiration!
You can find more information at www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk