Written by Emily Kench. This blog post originally appeared as a feature in the Suffolk Magazine in the April issue 2017.

Spring: that glorious time of the year where we draw back the curtains, fling open the windows and once again turn our gardens into a multifunctional seasonal living room, dining room and playroom. A ‘room’ we must tend to when preparing for the lazy alfresco morning coffee, the long scone-consuming session in the ever-lasting afternoon sun, and the evenings spent entertaining on the patio with one hand strategically swatting away mosquitoes whilst cautiously cradling the gin and tonic in the other.

Whether you’re a coffee, tea or gin drinker, there’s no need to accompany your time outside with a little background music. Leave the radio, headphones and boom box inside because your garden comes with its very own soundtrack.

Photo credit: Eleanor Bentall

The low-drum-hum bass of the bumblebee vibrates around the flower beds. The pair of blue tits flitting in and out of their nest box provides a not-so-catchy but nonetheless repetitive chorus: "tsee-tsee-tsu-hu-hu-hu-hu." And the male frog hanging wistfully round the pond offers a soft, lyrical croak.

Photo credit: Grahame Madge

At least these are the sounds of spring that we experience at the RSPB Flatford Wildlife Garden. Nestled deep in the heart of Constable Country, this wildlife-friendly garden is teaming with life all year round, offering all the inspiration you will need to transform your own green patch into a wildlife oasis.

Photo credit:  Andy Hay

For the more bijoux garden, inspiration can be drawn from the small flower meadow and the flower borders full of nectar and pollen that attract an array of insects. If you have more land at your fingertips then you may be able to take inspiration from the young apple orchard and woodland gardens that host a number of resident garden birds. Even if you have no garden to hand, draw inspiration on bringing the outside in with the thoughtful kitchen garden, all designed with garden wildlife in mind.

Either way, however big your green patch even the smallest of wildlife friendly gardens in the UK help give wildlife a vital network of stepping stones through the wider landscape. UK gardens covering three times more land than all RSPB nature reserves put together. So by dusting off your gardening gloves and nurturing your own local nature, you will join an army of fellow conservationists in gardens across the country all doing their bit to save wildlife.

Photo credit: Andy Hay

Before visiting Flatford Wildlife Garden, here are a few ideas to set you on your way:

Build a bee b&b: Offer solitary bees five-star accommodation by building them their very own hotel. Solitary bees don’t live in hives like honeybees. As their name suggests, these furry pollinators make their nests on their own and lay their eggs in tunnels, like in dead wood or hard soil. A bee hotel mimics these conditions. Sit and watch adult female bees find the nest on sunny days in spring. You’ll know they’re nesting if you see them flying in with pollen, with blobs of mud to create cell walls along the tube, or with bits of leaf.

Photo credit: Andy Hay

Make the perfect bird bath: Make a bird bath to give birds a safe and reliable way to find fresh water in the hot weather. Look out for birds coming for a drink or to keep their feathers clean. It’s quite a performance, so sit back and watch them having a good, splashy bath – who needs TV? You can make your birdbath at any time of year, but summer really is a critical time when water can be scarce for birds. You’ll often see blackbirds and flocks of starlings taking a dip, while wood pigeons may just sit in the water to cool off!

Photo credit: David Tipling

Build a frog and toad abode: Create an underground den where frogs, toads and newts can find safe lodging. Our amphibian friends like to hibernate in a cool, dark and damp shelter, safely away from predators. Some frogs use the mud at the bottom of ponds, but many amphibians spend the winter on land. They do like to get a little way underground if they can, so give them a helping hand by creating their very own mansion, full of cavities galore. They’ll be able to use it to sleep through winter’s worst excesses and emerge, refreshed and ready to go for a hectic spring of mating and spawning.

For full instructions on these and other ways to create a home for wildlife in your garden, visit www.rspb.org.uk/homes.

Visit Flatford Wildlife Garden

The garden is situated in the beautiful and historic hamlet of Flatford, where John Constable used to paint. It is designed to teach and inspire people to help wildlife in their own gardens. 

The RSPB hold frequent events and activities for adults and families at the garden, and hidden amongst the blooms you’ll find friendly staff and volunteers on hand to answer all your wildlife gardening questions!

Between 27 March and 3 November, the garden is open seven days a week, 10.30 am to 4.30 pm.

For more information visit www.rspb.org.uk/flatford