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OUT IN THE GARDEN: Attracting wildlife

Another lockdown it is then, though for this lockdown we haven’t the warm, dry weather we enjoyed in our earlier national lockdown to keep us occupied. It was whilst queueing for fish and chips in Donington that I came across Gary’s gardening email. Emails on the move –check me out!

Gary’s question centred on what he could do to encourage more wildlife into his garden at this time of year. Before I offered any advice, I wanted to firstly understand the layout of his garden and secondly what he had done to help encourage wild birds and animals into his garden up to now.

Though before that happened I was going to first enjoy my fish, chips and curry sauce... it was large curry sauce as well.

A chaffinch. (43067726)
A chaffinch. (43067726)

Okay, with lockdown in place and greasy, salty fingers I video called Gary who was happy to give me a virtual tour of his garden. It was clear that Gary and his wife Debbie where keen gardeners as their garden looked beautiful, well as beautiful as any garden can look at this time of the year.

Most of the garden had been laid to lawn with a couple of long borders which ran down both sides of the garden, backing up against the fences with their neighbours.

I explained to them that they’d need to start off by focusing on the smallest of creatures, namely insects and bugs.I suggested that they place a pile of logs, rocks and twigs somewhere in their garden.

This simple act would provide an eco-system for spiders and beetles to set up home.Many species of birds feed on insects and bugs so by creating this habitat we will encourage more birds into the garden.

Leave some gaps at the bottom of the fences to allow hedgehogs to roam from garden to garden – in some parts of the county hedgehogs are becoming increasingly rare.

In your borders, plant buddleias to encourage butterflies into your garden, verbena, lavender and hebes will also attract butterflies, which in my opinion are nature’s most beautiful insects.It’s really important to plant flowers that will support our bee population and help with pollination. Plants such as echinacea and rudbeckia are perfect for this.

For wild birds, plant ivy, sorbus or honeysuckle, to name but a few. The berries on these plants will become a valuable food source for them as winter takes hold.

The problem with the measures I’ve outlined is that they won’t really take effect until next year, which brings me onto what can be done right now, and it’s really simple. Get yourself a bird table or feeding station. You’ll find a large selection at most garden centres, including Baytree.

You’ll be really surprised by how quickly word spreads throughout the wild bird population that your garden has food. You’ll be like the McDonald’s of the wild bird world; other fast food restaurants are available.

Just make sure that you have a saucer or bowl of water for the birds to drink and probably bath in, though I’d hold off at supplying towels for them as they won’t appreciate your extra effort.

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