Creating a Creature-Friendly Garden

There are many advantages to encouraging wildlife to thrive in your garden. Not only is it fascinating to witness nature up close (especially if you have children), but encouraging certain types of creatures to take up residence in your garden will act as a natural deterrent for many common pests.

Hedgehog Eating food in the garden
For example:

Birds make a valuable addition to any garden as they will eat most insects, with certain kinds of birds mercifully enjoying snacking on slugs and snails. Pest-eating birds include: robins, magpies, wrens, song thrushes, blackbirds and fieldfares.

While insects are amongst the pests you want to eradicate, there are some insects that are actually useful to have in your garden.

Ladybirds, lacewings, parasitic species of wasps, hoverflies and beetles are among the good kinds of insects who like to eat other pests common to UK gardens.

Other creatures to encourage are hedgehogs, frogs, toads, bats and newts, all of which enjoy eating the pests you hate as part of their daily diet.

So if you want to attract (the right kind of) wildlife to your garden, try incorporating some of these useful features:

Garden pond – Ponds are loved by many creatures, such as frogs, dragonflies and newts, which all need water to breed; birds which use them to drink and bathe, and water boatmen, which live on the bottom of ponds and consume algae and plant debris.

Compost heap – A compost heap provides a place for hedgehogs to hibernate and for slowworms to breed; it will also supply valuable compost that will naturally fertilise your garden’s soil.

Long grass and nettles – Long grassy areas will attract insects, provide shelter for animals, and food for predators.

Thick hedge – A hedge gives nesting areas and cover for birds, while berries provide food during the winter.

Logs – Logs provide an excellent hiding place for all sorts of amphibians, frogs and ground beetles.

Food for Wildlife

Providing food doesn’t have to just mean hanging a bird feeder or throwing out some nuts for the squirrels. In the autumn and winter months, berries and seeds are in plentiful supply, providing food for birds and many other insects.

The garden plant Pyracantha provides berries as well as shelter for birds and support for insects; it can also be trained against a wall.

Pyracantha plant provides tasty berries for garden wildlife
Pyracantha

Summer provides you with many options for food. Plants that are rich in nectar can encourage predators such as wasps and hoverflies. Fennel, Dill and Aster plants provide food for many insects, as well as flowers such as Candytuft, Aubrieta and Wallflower, and shrubs such as Viburnum and Buddleia. You should try and include at least one nectar-rich plant for bumblebees.

Shelter

For a wildlife friendly garden, shelter is vital to protect the creatures from predators, give a place to nest, and somewhere to hibernate. Trees and plants such as Evergreen provide all-year round cover.

Rose, Pyracantha and Mahonia shrubs are an excellent choice for nesting and provide berries and hips to eat. Climbers provide much needed protection, camouflage and nesting spots for birds. Bats and hedgehogs can be lured into the garden with a compost heap or piles of leaves, though if you’ve got the cash to spend you can buy a special box shaped house where hedgehogs can hibernate and bats can sleep.

Image Credits: Sids 1 and Muffet

This is a guest post written by Amy Fowler for Garden Topsoil Direct; specialists in compost delivery across the UK. Find out more on their Facebook page or find out more about Amy on Twitter.

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Lessons from the Garden SleepOut

Amid the excitement and success of the National Garden SleepOut I was keen to use the event as an opportunity to educate my children regarding its purpose. In addition to being a fabulous excuse to have fun under canvas, the SleepOut raised awareness of important issues in the UK and abroad. Two charities were supported by the event and I spent some time discovering more about these causes and how they related to our own lives. I was keen to see what they could teach us and whether this changes the way we utilise and manage our garden.

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Charity Spotlight: Bumblebee Conservation Trust

Bumblebee Conservation Trust UK charity logoThe second charity we’re supporting for this year’s National Garden SleepOut is the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

In the past 80 years, the number of bees has been plummeting and two species of bumblebee have even become extinct in the UK. Bees are vital to the health of the ecosystem because they serve as pollinators — allowing flowers, fruit and veg to continue reproducing.
White-tailed bumblebee photo
The UK countryside has changed over the years, reducing the number of wildflowers across the country, and with it the number of bees. BBCT works with farmers, policy-makers, and the public to spread awareness of bee-friendly planting methods to help bring our bees back in full force.

You can test how bee-friendly your garden is with the Trust’s Bee Kind tool, and you and your children can learn all about bumblebees over at Bumble Kids.

You can find more information on volunteering, donating, or BBCT’s projects at their website: wwww.bumblebeeconservation.org.

Bumblebee pollinating flowers illustration

June in the Garden – Mr Digwell

The biggest joy in the garden - hardy Fuchsia are so delicate yet tough as old boots!

The biggest joy in the garden - hardy Fuchsia are so delicate yet tough as old boots!Actually, most of June so far has taken place in the shed, the greenhouse, the kitchen, the garage – almost anywhere but the garden! The problem with a wet June is that as far as the plants go, on the whole, it is heaven and we humans have trouble keeping up with them.

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Primrose celebrates National Insect Week

Fairy Fly Laying Eggs

Today marks the start of National Insect Week, a whole week of events and awareness across the UK. Many insects are vital to the garden, so join us in celebrating British bugs!

We have a selection of bee and wildlife-friendly plants for you to choose from. Or, if you’re not so fond of our creepy crawly friends, repel them humanely and efficiently with an ultrasonic insect repeller.

Here are some fascinating facts…

– The heaviest UK insect is the great silver water beetle, weighing in at about 25-30g.

Fairy Fly Laying Eggs

A fairy fly laying eggs on a leaf.


– The smallest is the fairy-fly, an internal parasite of water beetle eggs, at 0.25mm.

– The Lundy cabbage flea beetle and the Lundy cabbage weevil live only along a strip 1½ miles long, 30 yards wide on the island of Lundy in the Bristol Channel and nowhere else in the world. They feed on the Lundy Cabbage, a plant that only lives on that island.

– Painted Lady butterflies make their yearly migration from North Africa and the Mediterranean to the UK each spring.

– When threatened, Ladybirds bleed foul-tasting poisonous blood from their knees.

– When a ladybird emerges from its pupa, it doesn’t have spots — the spots appear as the exoskeleton hardens.

– Bombardier beetles can produce sprays of boiling phenolic liquid in the face of predators such as shrews.

– Earwigs don’t go in people’s ears. Instead, their name comes from either ‘ear-wing’ or ‘ear-bug’ – referring their shape which is like a human ear.

Twig Mimic Caterpillar

Can you find the caterpillars in these photos? source


– The complex folding mechanisms of an earwig’s hind wing have been copied to unfurl solar panels on space satellites.

– Insects are excellent at camouflage and mimicry – some caterpillars mimic twigs, and others mimic bird poo! Other harmless insects take advantage of our fears of bees and wasps, and colour themselves black & yellow to ward off enemies (even if they don’t actually sting!).

Joy PrimroseJoycelyn is a member of the Primrose marketing team.

She is a novice windowsill gardener but hopes to graduate to larger plants one day. She enjoys British food (despite its sometimes bad reputation) and British scenery.

At Primrose, when not tending to office plants, she deals with online advertising and social media.

See all of Joycelyn’s posts.