May, 2014

Homes for Wildlife

Homes for Wildlife
If you love the creatures in your garden, you'll love our Homes for Wildlife project. This is the place to ask and answer questions about making your backyard wildlife-friendly.

Gardening for wildlife

Follow the adventures of Adrian Thomas, our wildlife gardening expert, and be inspired to create your own wildlife haven on your doorstep. Adrian posts here every Monday and Friday without fail, so make it a date and drop by!
  • Gardeners World Live looms - so bring out the old wellies

    The Gardeners World events team at RSPB headquarters have sent me through some photos to tease and tantalise.
    Here's what to me looks like a boat used to store toilet rolls.
    And here are what could be some gardeners playing a game of Twister that has gone horribly wrong...
    All I can tell you is that if you make your way along to Gardeners World Live at the NEC between 12-15 June, you will find out what it has all turned into, because this is the work in progress as the RSPB Events volunteers  busy build the last few pieces for the RSPB's stand.
    Having worked with these guys last year, I know they will pull something special out of the bag.
    Abby Jinks, who is masterminding it all this year, explains, "With a colourful mix of plants for attracting wildlife, enlivening the senses and tickling the taste buds, there will be a strong sense of connection to nature.  We’ll have accessible planters with flowers you can pick, some quirky sculptures and a load of DIY homes for nature.
    "This year’s feature will come to life with DIY homes for nature and inspiring ideas for gardeners to recreate at home. Look out for creative ways of using pallets, the secrets of ‘Granddad’s shed’ and a surprising number of things to make out of wellies."
    I'll let you know what these fiendish minds came up with to inspire the masses to give nature a home...once I know myself!
  • Unearthing nature's secrets

    As I announced last week, fate has dropped into my lap one of the biggest challenges of my life – a new garden an acre in size and a bit like a mini Lost Gardens of Heligan. Once much-loved, it is now overgrown and effectively abandoned.

    As a friend said to me when she visited this week, “I wouldn’t have a clue where to start.” Well, in my view the first step in a new garden is actually the easiest – stop and find out what is there already.

    And so the past few weeks have been spent exploring and unearthing its secrets.

    So far, I've discovered:

    • three ponds (one made out of a boat, and all three full of leaves), hosting a few sickly Frogs
    • perhaps as many as 75 fruit trees, all affected by fireblight
    • three semi-mature oak trees, plus a Tulip Tree and a Ginkgo
    • Brimstone and Orange-tip butterflies, although no foodplants for their caterpillars
    • Breeding Robin, Blackbird, Dunnock, Goldcrest, Wren, Blackcap and possibly Chiffchaff
    • A Fox without a tail, who has earned the nickname Basil Brushless.

    And then you known what I said about unearthing secrets? I realised that Basil has some friends. Oh yes, the giant brash pile at the foot of the garden clearly has hidden depths! This photo was taken on Wednesday.

    But as yet, not a single House Sparrow or Starling and no Greenfinches. Why are there no Song Thrushes, or butterfly caterpillars on the nettles. And how come I've only seen one bat once?

    What a sign of the times! But a chance to make a real difference for nature.

  • Come with me on a 'giving nature a home' journey...

    For a number of years now, I have been reliably blogging every Friday with barely a hitch.

    And then in the last few weeks it has all gone to pot. I'm hoping you'll forgive me, because I think I have got the most amazing wildlife gardening excuse.

    This:

    Yes, I've bought a new garden. It's big. And it's in a right old state!

    My dream garden would be an absolute blank canvas. But this is a close second best - a large garden, once loved, but that has got totally out of control.

    It is 'blessed' with about 25 leylandii, each I estimate about 60 foot tall.

    Only some of them aren't even standing...

    ...and as you can see nor is the garden wall it fell onto.

    Then there are all the nettles. And bindweed.

    And the military style fencing.

    You get the sense that it is long time since this garden became too much for its former owners.

    But what an adventure and privilege to have the chance to bring it back to life! An adventure which will now form much of the content of this blog.

    I hope you enjoy following my journey as I see how successfully I can give nature a home