At Go Wild Landscapes, we design beautiful gardens which also attract local wildlife. Maintaining the richness to the UK ecology is important to us and can benefit you too: watching the varied fauna outside your window throughout the seasons is extremely rewarding.
Wildflowers are well-known for luring in bees and butterflies. Go Wild Landscapes are accredited suppliers of Wildflower Turf, which contains an unusually high proportion of wild-flowers, alongside grass species native to the British Isles which will complement the wildflowers, rather than compete with them, as well as produce seeds for wildlife. Butterflies are also drawn to flowers such as Verbena bonariensis, sedums and of course Buddleja – the “butterfly bush”. Bees will love the soft lavender blue, lilac or cream blooms of scabiosa (scabious), asters and nepeta (catmint).
Native informal or semi-informal hedging will attract birds, small mammals and insects to your garden, providing them with food and shelter. Aesthetically, they produce attractive foliage, fruits and flowers throughout the year which can add interest to your garden.
Go Wild Landscapes recommends the following options for native hedging:
- Blackthorn (produces sloe berries)
- Hawthorn (stunning dark red berries)
- Spindle (pod-like berries with large, fleshy seeds)
- Dogrose (lightly scented white or pinkish flowers)
- Hazel (yellow male catkins in Winter and early Spring, followed by edible nuts)
- Guelder rose (white flowers and red berries)
- Wayfaring tree (red berries ripen to black)
Hawthorn bushes produce stunning dark red berries in autumn and can attract Scandinavian waxwings which will have flown to the UK in search of food.
Hazel trees provide food for several species of moths and caterpillars as well as small mammals such as dormice and squirrels. Their trunks are usually host to mosses, liverworts and lichens, and the fiery milkcap fungi will often be found by its root.
Other ideas for nature-friendly trees include crab apples (genus: malus) which will produce fruit to attract birds and insects and the rowan tree (mountain ash – Sorbus aucuparia) which will attract fieldfares and redwings in the Autumn with its stunning red berries. For birds that don’t feed on berries, such as member of the tit family, fatballs and good quality bird feed will provide a good source of fat and energy for the Winter. There is now a wide array of seed and nut mixes and bird feeders on the market.
Well made nest boxes can provide a safe home for birds when there aren’t enough natural hollows available. These are widely available from garden centres and online, or if you feel adventurous you could make your own: the RSPB and British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) provide some good guidelines.
Dense undergrowth and a mix of grasses will attract hedgehogs. As Winter approaches, and if food is scarce, they may benefit from a bowl of cat or dog food. In fact, as they have a rather varied diet, they could also be fed small amounts of cake, fresh or dried fruit and cooked vegetables. Hedgehog boxes are also available for the hibernation period. These should be placed in an unruly area of the garden to provide cover when the hedgehogs wake up in the Spring.
Adding a pond to your garden will make a home for frogs, newts, dragonflies and water boatmen. A wildlife pond should have easy access from the ground level and include plenty of rocks for amphibians to hide.
Finally, compost heaps provide excellent conditions for grass snakes to lay their eggs in Spring, as long as they are well sheltered from cold winds and are protected from at least three sides. Ideally, only turn your compost in September/early October to avoid harming unhatched eggs. Hedgehogs will also use a compost heap as a source of food and as a possible site to build a nest.