There are many ways to make our gardens richer
THE Royal Horticultural Society and the Wildlife Trusts are spearheading a new initiative to help halt the decline of animals such as hedgehogs and butterflies here in the UK, and are calling on people to get involved in Wild About Gardens Week (October 25–31 ).
In May, the State of Nature report, compiled by 25 wildlife organisations, found that 60 per cent of the 3,148 UK animal and plant species assessed have declined in the past 50 years for a range of reasons including loss of habitat. For example, hedgehog numbers have reduced by a third since the millennium and tortoiseshell butterflies, once common in gardens, have declined by 77 per cent.
In reaction to this, the RHS and The Wildlife Trusts have teamed up to raise awareness and are urging the public to get involved. Community gardening groups, schools, and the public are holding wildlife gardening events during the week. A micro-site (www.rhs.org.uk/wildaboutgardensweek) has been set up for people to log their events. The first 200 will receive free bulbs from the RHS.
Whether private or public, gardens offer a wealth of habitats for wildlife. For example, a pond is one of the most effective ways to attract garden wildlife, and wildflowers provide essential food for insects such as butterflies and bees.
Throughout Wild About Gardens Week, there will be wildflower seed giveaways and people will be asked to Do One Thing – from creating a pond, to building a hedgehog house or simply putting out bird seed.
What's most alarming is that many of the common' garden species – hedgehogs, house sparrows, starlings and common frogs – are becoming much less common. Historically these species have done well in our gardens and so their sudden absence is something we really need to sit up and take notice of. This is where gardeners can make a difference by making their gardens more wildlife friendly. This should be a wake-up call to all of us.
The nation's gardens are hugely important for wildlife and as a habitat network they are second to none. Inner-city balconies and courtyards, the suburbs' hedgerows and lawns, and the orchards and allotments of market towns and villages, all have the potential to be incredibly rich habitats for wildlife. There are many simple ways in which we can make our gardens naturally richer. Nest boxes, birdfeeders, log piles, nectar plants, fruiting shrubs, wall climbers and ponds all improve the life chances for garden creatures; and, as each of us improves our garden habitat for wildlife, the plants and animals that we attract will bring more pleasure in return.
Avon Wildlife Trust is the local wildlife charity, supported by 16,000 members, dedicated to securing a strong future for nature and to inspiring people. Please go to avonwildlifetrust.org.uk for information about the Trust, its nature reserves, walks and educational work, Feed Bristol, plus ways to support the charity, including membership.
Reg. charity no. 280422
Avon Wildlife Trust's Feed Bristol Seasonal Grower Susan Rogers