8 Wildlife Habitats For Your Garden & Our First Year Anniversary!
In this blog we will walk through 8 types of habitat that you can create in your own gardens to get bees buzzing and butterflies fluttering! But first…..
We’re one today! How amazing! Not only did we survive what was an appalling start, but we’ve survived the first year of business! Hooray!
In a weird way, I suspect looking back that though our Establish date is 01/05/2018, our business ‘proper’ probably didn’t really start until it nearly failed and you all came to the rescue!
On that note, a big thank you to everyone who retweeted/shared our stuff on twitter, facebook and instagram, or purchased our peat free, plastic free, & pesticide free wildlife friendly plants, because we wouldn’t be here to celebrate our first year anniversary otherwise!
So, we fight on, and fight on we must! British garden wildlife is in trouble, but of course that’s just part of the trouble because it’s not just UK garden wildlife, but the world globally! It may not seem like much, but by going peat free, plastic free (we’ve all seen Blue Planet) & pesticide free, as well as providing you lovely gardeners with wildlife friendly plants, we may well make a difference. Okay, so it’s not on a global scale, but as I keep saying in these blogs, to make a difference you need to start with what responsibility you have and grow from there!
So, that’s the celebrations over with, but what about us as gardeners? What can we do?
As gardeners (gardens cover around 10 million acres) we have a wonderful opportunity to make a direct difference to wildlife and it needn’t involve buying from us, (Oh, go on!) you could do something as simple as letting some grass go long and sinking a bowl in the ground with some water in it! Honestly, it really can be as simple as that! Mind you, if you have the time/money/land, the best thing you can do is create a mosaic of wildlife friendly habitats.
So, with that in mind, here are 8 wildlife habitats you can create in your garden!
- Hedges – Hedges are great for birds, providing hiding spaces from predators, nesting places, insects to feed off and seeds or berries. For owls they create a highway to travel by, with many choosing to hunt the small mammals, and birds, that come out from the cover of them. From a human point of view, they help massively in reducing the effects of wind (no, not as a digestive) turbulence, whilst also sucking up moisture that might result in water run-off and ultimately flash flooding. They can also be edible too!
- Long grass – Yes, I mentioned it before, but don’t, as I did till last year, underestimate the importance of long grass! I think we’ve become so ingrained with the idea of keeping grass ‘bowls green short’ that we’ve forgotten how beautiful it can be with just a mowed path. Its benefits to insects in general is quite remarkable, but when you consider the life cycle of many caterpillars, it is then you realise just how valuable leaving long areas of grass is to the beautiful butterflies and moths (yes moths!) we have in the UK.
- Water – A bowl of water sunken into the ground is helpful, and an up-turned terracotta pot topped with a saucer filled with pebbles and water is another help, but really, if you have the space, then a pond, quite literally the bigger the better, is a must. Everything living depends on water in one way or another and if you really want to see your garden come alive, then a pond is a must. We won’t go into it much now, as we’ve done a blog before, but here are some useful links. Washing Up Bowl. Fresh Water Habitats.
- Trees & shrubs – We’ve listed these as two because really, when you look at one of the most valuable rich habitats in the UK, it would be the woodland verge, or glade, but what is it? A woodland glade is the open expanse to the sunny side of a woodland, with long grass and flowers; the verge is the woodland edge, the strip where sun can get in, that is rich with woodland flowers, shrubs and trees. Think of this area as a multi-tiered, three-dimensional space, with flowers for low flying pollinators, shrubs making up an under storey, whilst trees provide the canopy shelter. The wildlife this attracts would be too much to mention here.
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- Flowers – Whether annual, (one year flowering) bi-annual, (every two) or our favourites here, perennials, (almost permanent) you can’t help but be cheered up for having them, they really do make a difference to what might otherwise be a green, or far worse still, grey place! It is right that we think of bees and butterflies, they’re in major decline, but of course there are the moths, beetles, hoverflies, flies, wasps (yes I know!) and all other creepy crawly things that depend on them, and actually, let’s not pretend we don’t depend on them! Without their pollinating heroics, our UK economy would £690m poorer, whilst we ourselves might even be extinct without them!
- Decay – Yes, this is a habitat! Put the rake down, put away the bin bags and for goodness sake, do you really need that leaf blower? Once again, our obsession with tidying up (something I should have learned) is not actually very helpful, at least bot to wildlife. The loss of a tree can be a real loss, but with it comes an opportunity for life if you leave the stump. You might not think much, if anything of this decaying world, but the role it plays is vital. Imagine a world where nothing was broken down? Here the role of funghi, (see our blog) bacteria, worms, slugs and snails, woodlice, stag beetle larvae and much more could not be valued more. Without them we’d have a mess so bad, I doubt we’d even be able to walk the waste would be so high!
- Rocks & Wood – Have you ever picked up a fallen piece of wood, or removed a large flat stone from the ground and paid attention to the life that was there? No? Well you should! It’s a fascinating world, where spiders, centipedes and millipedes, earwigs, slugs and snails, wood lice and so much more live out the equivalent of an African Savannah, albeit in a micro climate. Here, to live is a bonus, it really is ruthless, but a lot like the area of long grass, don’t underestimate this habitat, because everything needs to eat and by leaving places like this, you provide food for bigger birds and mammals, which of course, in-turn, provides food for bigger birds, reptiles and mammals still!
- Sand & Mud – I once saw a gardeners world episode where a sheet of perforated steel was rounded into a tube, filled with sand, topped with flowers and became the most amazing place for solitary bees and parasitic hosts! It was buzzing! Don’t be put off though if your DIY skills are as bad as mine, because a pile of sand is enough to encourage nature to move in, after all, it already knows what it’s doing. Mud is great because it is used by bees for their nests, birds use it when dry to bathe in and wet to build with, so do think about leaving a small area bare, even if you can cram just one more plant in!
If you want help with creating a wildlife friendly garden then do please check out The Butterfly Brothers at hazelwood landscapes. This is not a paid promo, as I don’t know them personally, but I do admire their work!