It’s always inspiring to hear about other people’s efforts to help our wildlife and it’s good to remember that however small your garden or outdoor space is it’s possible to make a difference in your garden and help create great wildlife habitat.
Ryan Clark is in the process of transforming his family garden into a wildlife sensitive habitat and offered to share his photos depicting the progress to date.
The whole garden is managed with wildlife in mind with three main areas. Outside the living room window the old vegetable patch has been planted with wildflower seeds. In addition other plants such as speedwell, forget me nots, borage and clovers have moved in attracting a variety of bees, hover flies and drone flies.
Next to this converted bed is another containing French and English Lavender which the bees absolutely love.
And see how gorgeous both beds look.
It’s worth noting that if you live in an area prone to harsh winter conditions and frost, English Lavender will fare better than French Lavender which often struggles to survive our cold, wet conditions in winter.
The middle of the spare driveway has been left unmown and has many different plant species, all self established. It’s really important to leave some areas in your garden alone to allow dormant seeds to grow and allow your natural local flora and fauna to find its place in your garden.
And if your thinking, oh no that’s full of weeds take a closer look and see how gorgeous these little “weeds” AKA wildflowers are.
The top of the garden used to be all gravel but is in the process of being turned into a wildlife area with a pond, insect houses and fruit trees. On one side it has Sea holly, Thrift, Lupin, Foxglove, Red hot pokers, Campanulas and Jacobs ladder.
Ryan’s plan is to plant the other side with spring bulbs and wildflower seeds to give seasonal variation. This in turn helps create a constant regular food source for your local garden wildlife as well as providing a beautiful garden for the gardener.
If you are considering installing a wildlife pond in your garden try to position it in part shade and away from excessive leaf fall. Leaf litter can reduce oxygen and create toxins in pond water especially over winter if it freezes.
It’s also essential to have planted edges, shallow shelves and submerged logs and stones at different levels to create underwater shelter and access and exit points for pond dwellers and creatures that may accidentally fall in. Also resist putting fish in your pond as they predate on pond life.
When first filling your pond resist using tap water as this will increase algae. And only top up if it threatens to dry out completely, with collected rain water. Wildlife ponds thrive on varying water levels creating a diverse habitat for lots of species, so it’s perfectly natural for your pond to sometimes have low levels of water.
If you can add a nearby log, leaf litter and twig pile you will be on your way to creating the perfect pond habitat and eco system.
Ryans garden has an impressive selection of shrubs and trees most of which are beneficial to wildlife including Silver birch, Horse chestnut, Sycamore, Common hawthorn, Box hedges, Wild cherry, Common pear tree, Plum tree, Privet and Elder.
His plant list is equally impressive including Butterfly bush, Common mouse ear, Corncockle, Common buttercup, Meadow buttercup, Aquilegias, Cornflower, Common poppy, Creeping cinquefoil, Wood avens, Bramble, Dog rose, Red clover, White clover, Herb-robert, Ground elder, Sea holly, Ivy, Common lavender, French lavender, Field madder and Cleavers.
The secret to creating a wildlife friendly garden is a diverse range of planting and habitats that offer food and shelter for as many different species as possible throughout the year, especially in winter. So when planning your wildlife garden choose plants with this in mind.
Last but not least don’t forget to include an insect hotel. Ryan is a dab hand at creating these fantastic 5 star beauties. So have a go and enjoy your new wildlife friendly garden.