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What kinds of shrubs can I plant to help wildlife?

Sent in by John Read, Suffolk

Birds require food, shelter and suitable breeding sites in order to survive. All three of these essential requirements can be provided by planting shrubs.

Select native species wherever possible, as these attract more insects and because they are suited to our climate, they require less attention and are less prone to pests and diseases. Choose those species that provide insect food and fruit and berries for as long a period as possible.

Species such as guelder rose, Viburnum opulus, and the dwarf variety, V. compactum, have white flowers that attract insects, followed by a profusion of red berries. Juniper, Juniperus communis, supports spiders and other insects and also provides a well-protected nest site.
Thorny shrubs also provide both shelter and a safe nesting site; gorse, Ulex europaeus, is a very attractive shrub whose thorny stems provide birds with secure nests.

Native holly, Ilex aquifolium, also provides nesting opportunities for birds and many different species will feast upon the berries. Plant female plants of the wild form, but for a good crop of berries, there should be a male nearby.

Hawthorn, Crataegus monogyna, can be a hedge or a clipped bush, providing both cover and food, but it should be left unclipped for the berries to develop. 

All of these shrubs are attractive to both us and to garden birds!

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