Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Wild About Gardens Week - Holes and Hideaways: Part 2

In 'Holes and Hideaways: Part 1' we looked at hedgehogs and how we can provide homes and highways for them in our gardens. But what about all the other creatures? There are lots of ways we can help everything including the bees, the bugs and the birds! 

Here are a few ideas from my own garden!

The bees...

Nesting tubes for solitary bees. 
The bees will lay their eggs in these tubes, in my garden red mason bees use these each year and the gaps between are also used by other invertebrates such as spiders, ladybirds and lacewings. 
Solitary bees are vital for pollination  but not as well known as honey bees and bumblebees which most people will recongise in their gardens.

Flowers for all seasons: I try to grow some plants which offer nectar at different times of year including early spring and into the autumn. This benefits all pollinators, not just the bees, but also butterflies and hoverflies too. Some flowers attract moths as well. 

The bugs...

These upturned flowerpots may look funny but they are very important in my garden. The pots are stuffed with straw, creating a great place for bugs to shelter and maybe even hibernate. I hope that these straw-pots help insects such as ladybirds, earwigs, and spiders.

I leave the seed-heads on some of my plants over the winter. Like the flower-pots, these can also provide shelter for insects (as well as seeds for the birds). 

Embrace the snails! Although I do get rather annoyed at the snails when they eat my favourite flowers, I do accept that they are an important part of the garden ecosystem, and indeed can be rather charming! An old terracotta flowerpot with a crack in it was no more use for plants, and so I turned it upside down and placed it in a sheltered corner, initially as a potential bumblebee nesting place. It has been left undisturbed (more or less forgotten really!) and on a closer look today I found it full of hibernating snails! 

The amphibians...

Beside my pond is the 'toad house'. 
Basically this is a broken flowerpot which has been re-cycled into a shelter for any creatures which need a dark hole to hide in, close to the water, ideal for a frog or toad. 

In summer when the weather is warm, the water level in my small pond can drop quite quickly. I always keep it topped up, often with rain water. If I do use tap water, I make sure I leave the water to stand for at least a day or two as our drinking water is often treated with chemicals. 

The birds...

The birds are probably the most visible of all my garden wildlife visitors. Robins, blackbirds, goldfinches, greenfinches, chaffinches, blue tits, coal tits, great tits, house sparrows and wood pigeons all pop in regularly, with other species joining them in the cold winter months. I put out food and water all year round; The feeders are filled with sunflower hearts, which most garden birds seem to like, and on the coldest days of winter I also provide other high-energy treats such as mealworms, sultanas and apple, suet and grated cheese. 

The small size of our garden limits my ability to plant trees, however, the birds make use of the trees which border the edge of my neighbour's larger plot, and my garden includes climbers and bushes for shelter. The main bush is a large Pyracantha which I current covered in berries (see previous blog post), although the wood pigeons have stripped the fruit from most of the top branches, easily reached from a perch on the fence!

There are lots more things you can do, to help birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates. The Wild About Gardens website has some ideas. 

Got some ideas of your own? I'd love to hear them, so if you're on Twitter or Facebook, why not join the conversation? (You'll find me by searching 'SophiEcoWild') 

1 comment:

  1. I have two Pyracantha in my garden. They were both covered in flowers in the spring. One has a few berries and the other none at all. I'm really enjoying the blogs this week.