-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [veganorganic] Gardening for wildlife
Date: Wed, 13 Apr 2005 16:11:09 -0700 (PDT)
How to attract wildlife to your garden
Paul Brown, environment correspondent
Wednesday April 13, 2005
An alliance between gardeners and wildlife enthusiasts to develop
Britain's 15m gardens into havens for birds, bats, snakes, hedgehogs and
other creatures was launched yesterday.
The Royal Horticultural Society and the Wildlife Trusts want to encourage
more gardens to be adapted to the needs of wildlife but also to discover
what already lives behind the privet hedges in Britain's suburbs.
Although it has long been recognised that gardens can provide a home for
species driven off farmland and from countryside that has been covered in
concrete, this is an attempt to pool the knowledge of gardeners living
close to each other to provide bigger blocks of wildlife-friendly terrain.
A website where gardeners can share information, tips and stories of
wildlife in their gardens was launched yesterday. Gardeners are also asked
to send in postcards detailing the species which can be seen in their
Among the unknowns is whether native species are attracted to exotic
plants imported into gardens from other countries.
Stephanie Holborne, chief executive of the Wildlife Trusts, said: "Much of
the farmed countryside is like an empty snooker table, flat and green and
devoid of interest, whereas gardens are full of wildlife."
She said compost heaps, as well as improving the quality of soil, saving
peat, and reducing landfill, provided a home for insects and somewhere to
hide for frogs, toads and newts.
She rejected the idea that gardens and wildlife were in conflict. But some
species, such as rats, would be discouraged.
"It is very much a question of personal taste. Some people regard grey
squirrels as pests and others like them. We are not telling people they
cannot discourage some forms of wildlife, but a lot of creatures and birds
are very welcome in a garden," Ms Holborne said.
For example hedgehogs, slowworms, frogs and toads eat slugs and snails,
and birds and beetles eat aphids. Excess use of chemicals killed many of
these beneficial creatures.
Among the concerns was the need to provide plants which could feed insects
but also help keep down unwelcome pests.
An example was the hover fly which have short tongues and need to open
flowers like daisies, fennel, dill and courgettes to feed. If they breed
then the larvae, which eat more aphids than ladybirds and at colder
temperatures, would repay gardeners for providing suitable habitat.
Honeybees must gather nectar from 2m flowers to make half a kilogram of
honey. Urban hives produce more honey than rural ones because of the
number of flowers in gardens. Honeysuckle produces large amounts of nectar
and its strongly scented flowers attract moths in the evening which in
turn attract feeding bats.
Val Bourne, the author of the Natural Gardener, said: "Abandon the
insecticides and slug pellets, compost your own garden waste, leave leaf
litter undisturbed and have some long grass. In return you will be dazzled
by the movement of bees, butterflies and insect life."
A helping hand
1 Use ornamental plants that provide a food source over a long period.
Include nectar- and pollen-rich plants for bees, butterflies and other
flower-visiting insects, and fruiting trees and shrubs for mammals and
birds. Night-flowering or scented species will benefit moths.
2 Create a log pile to benefit insects, fungi, birds, mice, hedgehogs,
slowworms, newts and toads.
3 Leave some plants uncut throughout winter to provide seeds for food and
shelter to birds and other creatures.
4 Reduce the use of chemicals, particularly to control insects. All
insects are an important part of the natural food chain in your garden for
other wildlife to feed on.
5 A water feature (a washing-up bowl set into the ground will do) without
fish will enable frogs and newts to spawn. They will return the favour by
eating slugs and snails.
6 Reduce the size of your lawn, or consider leaving part of it uncut. Long
grass can be beneficial to many species.
7 Alternatively turn all or part of your lawn into a wildflower meadow.
This will require careful management but will provide food and shelter for
wildlife of all kinds.
8 Attract bats and hedgehogs by providing specially built boxes
comfortable enough for hibernation.
9 Put out a variety of nuts, seeds and fat balls to attract birds when
natural food sources are scarce. They will at the same time eat the bugs
and aphids on apple trees.
10 Ivy, honeysuckle and clematis and other climbers along with hedges
offer shelter and potential nesting places for birds and overwintering
sites for butterflies.