As most gardeners know but some non-gardeners may not, there is a great deal more to a garden than flowers and fresh vegetables. Even a tiny garden is also a haven for all sorts of wildlife, from insects to birds and from toads to tortoises, not to mention hedgehogs. A garden is also a safe intermediate zone between urban development and nature ‘in the raw’.
With the rapidly increasing encroachment of humanity and its doings on nature’s territory, there is less and less safe habitat for wildlife of any kind. Granted, you don’t want large predators in your back yard or garden, but the smaller creatures are delightful to see and hear, like butterflies and birds, and many of them are also vital to the health of the plant life.
A large garden with walls, hedges, trees and maybe a pond is ideal for attracting and sustaining a myriad of wild creatures, but just a few pots on the patio can make a big difference too. The following will provide a few suggestions about turning your little plot of earth into a refuge and restaurant for wildlife.
Water is crucial; if you can’t have a pond, a birdbath or small fountain is a good alternative. Trees and hedges provide shelter and nesting places for birds and other creatures, but if you don’t have that kind of space, hang some bird feeders and keep them stocked, especially during nesting time and in the winter. Wait until late winter to trim hedges and flowers that go to seed, as they are an important food source, more so when it’s too cold for insects.
If possible, leave a patch of undisturbed cover, with native plants and wildflowers to attract pollinating bees and birds. A jumble of rocks and limbs may look untidy but it’s a great attraction for frogs, toads, insects and nesting animals like hedgehogs. A bit of untrimmed undergrowth can be home and refuge for an amazing variety of wildlife.