Episode 1, a short introduction
A client's one question that brings me the greatest joy as a gardener is "how do I encourage wildlife into my garden?", just the very thought that another soul wishes help wildlife warms me cockles. There are many answers to this question and these are dependant upon the many variables that can occur within the client's garden. The variables may include soil composition, the aspect of the garden, the existing planting within the garden, the garden perimeter composition, the location of the garden (our garden in the welsh hills can be up to 4 degrees cooler than gardens not two miles away at a lower elevation), garden usage so the list goes on. It soon becomes apparent that the task of encouraging wildlife can differ greatly from garden to garden.
Having said this, for me there are four basic steps to be implemented that will increase the variety of fauna within the majority of gardens, regardless of there size. In no particular order they are as follows: Improve the soil quality with organic material, add shelter for beneficial insects in the form of a log or stone pile, reduce or eradicate the use of chemicals, and add water. These are the basic steps that I try to encourage clients to implement, even if they have not considered encouraging wildlife to their garden before meeting with myself. The basic premise of these steps is to encourage the invertebrates and micro fauna to flourish in the garden as these are essential building blocks in the development of a successful wildlife garden.
All of these steps are reasonably easy to implement regardless of the size or location of your garden. It is also worth noting at this point that a garden that encourages wildlife does not have to appear as an untended and unloved blight amidst the surrounding gardens of perfectly striped lawns, arrow straight borders and chemically induced ‘pest’ free (i.e. wildlife sterile deserts) of your neighbours little ideas of suburban heaven if that is what worries you.
So the premise of this irregular series upon wildlife gardening is to hopefully introduce people to the concept of a type of wildlife gardening that will not only provide a haven for our beleaguered native flora and fauna in a way that does not turn a garden into a blight within the gardens of suburbia but will hopefully introduce people to the sheer joy and peace that may be found when you can sit quietly surrounded by a myriad of different species of our native wildlife. It will be then that your garden will truly become a place of peace, meditation and joy.
Finally just a thought for you to consider, take a moment to consider the amount of land within this country that all of our gardens take up, its a huge area of a mainly untapped wildlife resource. Now consider what could be achieved if every garden was managed in such a way as to encourage wildlife to flourish within its borders. If this was ever to happen the combined area of wildlife supporting land would total more than any one of our national parks.
Hopefully you will enjoy this irregular series, and maybe it may just encourage some of you to consider changing the way you garden, you never know, you might actually enjoy it!