June, 2016

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!
  • Making a pond - give it a go, or share your experiences.

    If there is one thing you can do in a garden that is guaranteed to bring in wildlife and amaze and enthrall, it is creating a pond.

    A washing-up bowl pond is a great start, and hopefully you saw the RSPB TV advert last year with the little boy with the frog in his washing-up bowl.

    What is clear, however, is that while a tiny pond like that may indeed host a web-footed friend or two, it is when you graduate to what I'll call a 'proper pond', maybe a metre or so across, that you really begin to open up possibilities for all sorts of wildlife. Suddenly they have a couple of hundred litres of water to call home instead of ten!

    However, I know the idea of creating a pond can seem really daunting to anyone who hasn't done it before. Whether you have a little corner to squeeze in a mini-pond or plenty of space for something bigger, our step-by-step guides will give you all the confidence you need to guide you through.

    But here are four things from my experience that I think should ease anyone's nervousness:

    1) A pond that is good for wildlife doesn't have to be deep - shallow is good, so you don't have to start tunnelling to Australia.

    2) It is far cheaper than people suspect; a small pond is possible to do for £50.

    3) Once made, a pond effectively looks after itself; it is one of the lowest maintenance bits of the garden.

    4) And it is a sure fire winner for wildlife which will start to arrive almost the moment you finish it.

    And above all remember 'safety first' at all times with ponds, to ensure there is no unaccompanied access for children, and for land animals such as hedgehogs that need to be able to get out of a pond easily should they fall in.

    I'll be brave and show you my first attempt at a pond. This photo is when I went back to see it, 12 years after I had made it. It needed the leaves clearing out of it, but the owners had had so much pleasure from it, the highlight being a Woodcock coming down to feed,

    This is one where I pushed the boat out a bit and gave it what I called an Italianate look, but still following the core principles - LOTS of shallows, easy for wildlife to get in and out of, and plenty of marginal and aquatic plants.

    Regular readers of the blog may remember this pond below. Here is is just one week old, made by Alessandra and Steven Towell after I'd visited their garden to feature in the RSPB magazine. It was such an inspiring example of what you can achieve when you just seize the moment and go for it. I'm sure it looks a treat now it has had time to mature.

    And here is a pond made by some friends of mine in just a few hours using a rigid fibreglass liner, which are even easier to install than a flexible rubber liner.

    Those of you who have already made a pond, share your images on Facebook or Pinterest with the hashtag #pondlife and it will help inspire others. And I'll share some stories of ponds others have made in blogs over the next few weeks.

    And if you've yet to give it a go, have a look through the instructions and give it some serious thought - you too could play host to things like this...

    or this...

    ...both photos taken in my small pond.

  • It's all coming together for wildlife at Gardeners World Live

    I'm blogging early because I'm hitting the M40 up to the NEC for BBC Gardeners World Live - and we hope we'll see lots of you there.

    It's on from Thursday to Sunday, and as usual the RSPB Events Team with their amazing volunteers have unleashed their creative juices on an RSPB Feature Garden in the main hall.

    I've just been sent a sneak preview, and it looks like April and her team has created a Wheelbarrow Waterfall (look, there's water flowing from one to the other! Way beyond my engineering skills).

    There are features throughout the garden showing how to do some of the simple things to Give Nature a Home, such as the hole to cut for a Hedgehog Highway

    There are some things I don't know what they are, such as these coloured nestboxes, but I'm sure all will become clear...

    But I do know what the Bloomin' Gorgeous bench is - it's a seat made of recycled pallets to come and take your hashtagged selfies to show that you yourself are bloomin' gorgeous, which we know you are!

    I'm going to be on and around the stand over the weekend, and on the Interview Stage being interviewed by Jim Buttress (in a marquee in the gardens area of the Show) on Friday ((3.30pm), Saturday (2.30pm) and Sunday (11am).

    And I'll also be at the Green Connections Garden, one of the outdoor Show Gardens, where Alex Stevenson and Jean Wardrop - the Gardening Ladies - have designed a garden showing how small urban gardens can be great for nature. They were good enough to come to me for some advice, and we've been delighted to endorse their garden. I just hope they've managed to get it up and finished through the downpours.

  • Tell us how you are giving nature a home - and inspire the nation

    This week we launched new webpages which we hope will become your one-stop-shop for giving nature a home in your garden.

    Really importantly, it is also the place to tick off all the things you have ALREADY done so we can chart the progress of a nation pulling together.

    And because this particular email goes out to the stalwarts, I'd love it if you would go in, tick off everything you have done, share a few photos on your favourite social media platform, and in that way inspire and encourage new people to get involved .

    It's really easy - click here and you'll go to a page which talks about creating your "personal plan".

    You just enter your postcode (your plan can then be tailored to where you are in the country), and answer three quick questions about your garden and how much time you have to do things.

    You'll then be asked to make a Log-in for the RSPB webpages - many of you will already have this, but don't confuse it if you had a RSPB Community log-in. The full RSPB website log-in is all you will need in future for a proper personalised experience.

    Once you've logged in, up pops your Plan - six things which, based on your answers, are likely to be help nature where you live.

    Beneath each one is a blue box saying 'Have you completed this activity? If you have, just click it. I'm sure you'll have done many if not all the things on your Plan. You can see above that I've grown food for moths, but have yet to make a frog and toad abode.

    Your ticked activity will go onto our all-important Totaliser.

    And hopefully there’ll be some activities there you have yet to do, and our advice sheets will give you all the information you need to get on and do them.

    If you hit a problem, let us know so we can make the experience even easier – email web.enquiries@rspb.org.uk.

    Together, we can see how our individual actions for nature in our gardens are adding up into saving nature across the country.