We gardeners may have found it tough this year with all the rain, but take a view from the relatively dry and safe conditions of your greenhouse and you are likely to see the signs that wildlife has suffered too.
Wildlife contributes a great deal to our gardens and so we must do all we can to support and maintain it.
When there has been heavy rain, birds such as blackbirds can’t even find worms as they can drown if ground becomes waterlogged. There have also been fewer seeds and nuts for birds like finches and blue tits, so putting out food in bird feeders helps to replace these.
Try to remember how many butterflies you saw this year – and see how that compares to say, 10, 20 or 30 years ago. We don’t have to read it in the newspapers to know that numbers have gone down.
Butterflies need dry weather, as they cannot fly in rain which affects their ability to feed and mate. Cabbages and other plants on which their caterpillars feed did not grow as well last year and neither did blackberries and raspberries on which autumn butterflies depend.
Combined with these threats, a lack of sunshine and the cooler weather have reduced what were already diminished numbers of butterflies.
As 90% of households have gardens, and this area exceeds all the UK nature reserves put together, it’s that synergistic effect – the combined effort of everyone pulling together – that means that, if we all do our bit, we will collectively reap the benefits.
Good gardening advice is to leave some areas of your garden messy. Yes – you have permission! The trend towards manicured, neatened gardens has destroyed nesting areas for bugs and beetles. They use long grass and unkempt areas to snuggle into for protection. Look after the bugs and you’ll have fewer slugs when it comes to growing out your lettuces and hostas again.
If you look at our greenhouse pages, you’ll notice attractive planting right up to the edges of our greenhouse designs. Plants and flowers like these harbour the good guys – the beetles – so do make the most of your land.
Thompson & Morgan, the garden supplies company, have a page all about encouraging wildlife into your garden, so take a look at their site for some top tips: http://www.thompson-morgan.com/encouraging-wildlife-in-my-garden