Published: 29 June 2012
Going wild in your garden
The joy of hearing or seeing wildlife in the great outdoors should never be taken for granted. The diversity of species that appear all around us are there because of the actions of past human decisions and interventions.

Ponds, whatever the size, and will start to attract wildlife in no time at all.
If all the wildlife in our locality disappeared we would certainly be very aware of it; that is why we, as gardeners, can and should play our part in encouraging an even more diverse number of species to thrive.
Whatever the location of our plot, be it a windowsill or backyard, an allotment or suburban garden, or even a tranquil rural retreat we can all help wildlife to establish itself and prosper. We can conserve and maintain existing habitats or create new ones for colonisation by providing a sufficient range and quantity of suitable food plants to attract species to visit and set up home. 
Our own particular interests may be to attract specific types of insects such as butterflies or we may wish to construct a water feature for the myriad forms of pond life. Each and every location can provide an essential haven to support a colony of some form or another. Eventually enough of these small colonies will be close enough to each other to provide the natural corridors essential for the movement of creatures to allow future breeding and an increase in numbers.


Buddleia is a favourite of butterfiles.

Taking stock

Finding out what is beneficial to wildlife in our own gardens is fairly straightforward. The first thing is to spend time observing what creatures are visiting on a regular basis. Birds are the most obvious because of their size and many are around for most of the year while butterflies, bees and most flying insects are summer visitors only. If possible, spend the spring, summer and autumn periods watching to get a better understanding of existing wildlife populations.
Whether you have a brand new garden with nothing in it or a totally overgrown wilderness it is possible to attract many forms of wildlife. With a bit of careful planning and not a huge budget it is possible to rejuvenate existing areas or create new habitats. From bogs and logs for insects, or hedges and ledges for nesting birds, it is possible to incorporate features into any size of space. 
One important factor to consider is the importance of all year round habitat combined with a source of food and water that is available for the different wildlife species visiting.  
It is not necessary to turn the whole garden into a wildlife sanctuary, it is amazing how quickly birds will be attracted to a new bird feeder or insects appear in a container of water. The important thing is to make a start.

Help is available

All this may appear incredibly daunting; however there is plenty of help and advice available. The local Wildlife Trusts have many opportunities to link into and there are also campaigns such as ‘Bee Wise’ run by the RHS that encourages planting nectar rich flowers. The charity Plantlife has details of plants suitable for a range of different species.  If you have no space to create your own wildlife area there are many community gardens where volunteers can get involved with practical projects.

The team at The Gardening will be reporting on projects from around the country while also creating different wildlife habitats at Blackwood gardens in Devon.

We will be sharing our findings and showing you how you can create your very own nature reserves in your own plots, whatever your experience or location.  

Reported by Chris Allen  

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