How to make a winning wildlife garden
We have won the wildlife category of the city garden in bloom competition and have been runners up several times.
Plants for a wildlife garden
We have tried to ensure the garden is full of wildlife garden friendly plants that pollinators love, throughout the year. Plants such as
Snowdrops, Buddleias, Sedum, teasels, wildflowers, clover, Hespera (Hesperis)
Seed heads and plant material are left in place as long as possible. Birds love feeding off the seed heads.
Just a small pond will be great in any garden. Ours is about 1m square. We have built ledges to sit plants on and we have a bog area extending out the one end. We have also tried to slope the pond towards the bog area so that animals can climb out. It is amazing how wildlife benefits and starts to use even just a small pond. Its one of the best things we have included in our garden.
Our favourite plant is the Marsh Marigold with its intense splash of yellow very early in the year. And of course with the link to the Glove Poppit and yellow household gloves.
We put out peanuts for the Woodpeckers and seeds for the other birds, blue tits, great tits, and sparrows, we also use a slice of an old tree trunk as a feeding platform for breadcrumbs etc for the crows.
The bird bath is situated near the flower border and hedge so birds can fly between the bath and the safety of the hedge. We fill it regularly using old large milk bottles and try to use rain water. We often hear a splashing commotion and realise that a group of birds are having their sailing bath. Pigeons are really amusing as they take up the whole bath and sit with one wing raised airing and drying it out. The crows are also very inventive as they bring hard stale pieces of bread to the bath for soaking, flipping the piece over so each side is wet and becomes moist enough to eat.
A neat bug hotel was given to us as a present and we have hung it from our fence. We also made one from an old small box and packed it with hollow plant tubes, old pine cones, bits of straw etc.
We keep larger branches from our pruning efforts and stack them up in a permanent pile at the side of the garden. This pile is left year on year so the wood slowly rots and as a home to whatever chooses to use it. We occasionally tidy it, replacing fallen sticks on top but generally leave it alone. Rotting wood is excellent wildlife gardens giving a home for fungi and bugs.
Long grass areas
Long grass patches have been created and are a permanent feature, perhaps mowing them completely away once a year. We have now determined where we want them and how they might fit sculpturally in with the shape of the beds so they add to the wildlife garden features. Clover starts to grow and a range of grasses as we move through the months. The neighbours cat often likes to lie on these long areas relaxing in the warmth from the grass.
Compost and leaf mold piles
Compost is made every year in a large bin and we have made wired framed leaf mold piles. We turn the compost early in the year and use a large tarpaulin to empty the contents onto, removing the hard woody parts that have not rotted down and ensuring the material at the top is placed back into the bottom of the compost bin. We use the tarpaulin again when we want to empty out the bin and distribute the compost round thewildlife garden.
Our fences were fitted with gaps at the bottom for hedgehogs to move from garden to garden
We replaced fences the other year but put in a slatted one so that the wind can work it’s way through. We ensured that there was a gap at the bottom for animals such as hedgehogs to move freely.
We try hard to not use any chemicals in the wildlife garden. We have made our own nettle feed in the past, stored in old bottles and added to the watering can. We use seaweed feed and make our own compost.