Wild About Attracting Wildlife to My Urban Garden by Assistant Shop Manager, Jayne.
Last year I moved to a flat in the centre of Cheltenham, fortunately this came with a beautiful view of my garden below. I have always enjoyed gardening, but since starting work for Fosseway in September 2019, my gardening habit has developed into a passion. One thing I love about gardening is seeing the various wildlife that come to visit, they really bring the garden to life.
My garden is walled on all sides so I’m going to struggle to attract hedgehogs and rodents which is a shame, but I am doing what I can to attract insects, bees, butterflies and birds.
Although my area of garden is just for me, the overall garden has areas owned by my neighbors but they haven’t paid much attention to their patches so I have (with their consent!) scattered some wildflower seeds. These are brilliant for wildlife, last year the area was inundated with butterflies, bees and ladybirds which were a joy to watch.
I have inherited a few shrubs which I am yet to identify but I have also planted some wildlife friendly plants such as lavender, buddleia and lilac all of which are favourites for bees and butterflies.
A great way to attract bees and butterflies is to ensure you have plenty of insects for them to eat so I have created some piles of pottery and large stones which I removed from the lawn, these provide the woodlice and centipedes with lovely homes.
I know many people are keen to create a perfectly manicured lawn but I would encourage you to leave an area longer and allow the moss and clover to grow as they provide great habitats for insects. I’m fortunate that my dad pops round to mow my lawn for me, I will be asking him to keep some areas a bit longer and to leave the moss as this provides valuable shade for grubs.
I was lucky to pick up a free greenhouse this year from a friend of the family, somehow they managed to move it in one go while I was at work so I came home and there was a ready-to-go greenhouse next to my veg patch! I’m currently growing beetroot, runner beans, sweetcorn, onions and herbs. Some veg can attract insects, especially butterflies, which can be a nuisance so I would suggest companion planting with something like nasturtiums to attract them away from the veg.
My tops tips for attracting wildlife to your garden are:
- Remember that anything you can do to attract insects is a good thing. Insects attract bees and birds and before you know if you have your own mini-eco system! Generally, the bigger and brighter the flower, the more attractive it is to wildlife so look out for these, and if you’re unsure what might be suitable, ask a member of the plant area team
- Don’t make your garden too tidy, leave dandelions if you can – they provide bees with one of their first meals of the season
- Help to create hedgehog highways by leaving gaps in fences. Hedgehogs like to forage over long distances so need to be able to move from garden to garden
- Install bird boxes, hedgehog houses and bat boxes where you can
- Feed your garden birds, so far I have only managed to attract pigeons and blackbirds but I know the more I feed them the more they will come and I love looking down on the birds from my flat window
- Get out and enjoy your garden, it’s not just wildlife that need to be in nature, we do too! I love reading a book whilst enjoying a beer in the evenings, and I am sure that one day soon I’ll build my patio so that I can unpack my garden furniture!
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