Wildlife essentials

The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) is actively encouraging gardeners not to over-tidy to stimulate biodiversity for a more natural environment.

The HTA, which is the trade association for the UK garden industry, has found in recent research that gardeners are getting increasingly serious about encouraging biodiversity in our gardens – and that’s got to be good news for a return to natural balance in our environment as a whole.

Gabriel Ash is fully behind all moves towards natural biodiversity and we are pleased to help the environment by ensuring that the western red cedar wood for our greenhouses is from PEFC certified sustainably managed forests.

So what are people doing to make their gardens attractive to wildlife?

Firstly, garden centres now offer a sizeable range of products to assist, from bird feeders and food to bug hotels, bat boxes and bee houses, though many of these can be built at home.

Some 62% of us now regularly feed the birds whilst almost a quarter provide nesting and breeding sites.

Some people build or leave areas for leafy dens for hedgehogs and small mammals to hibernate in.  By providing bug hotels you can welcome in insects who will help eat up pests such as aphids.

Toads, frogs, newts, slow worms and centipedes all eat slugs and will appreciate rocks and stones to hide under.

Stag beetles, spiders and bees like to hide amongst log piles.  The slugs and snails that go to live there will get eaten by the blackbirds and mice and hedgehogs that will also be attracted.

Because insects and small animals just love to live amongst sticks, stones, logs, twigs and long grass, if you have areas of your garden that you can rough, you will be supporting nature and the food chain as a whole.

If you gather old wood or garden waste for a bonfire, be sure to turn it over, giving a chance for hedgehogs or other small mammals to escape before lighting it.

Your soil or lawn will house worms for the birds and you can also buy or grow your own mealworms which they will love – a great source of fat and protein.

If you have left your sunflower hearts, it will encourage birds into your garden to peck away at the seeds there.

Ladybirds will hibernate in dead plant stems so leave some of them in your sheltered corner.

Ponds house a diverse array of creatures and by placing tiles over the edges you allow a sheltering place for frogs, toads and newts.

There are many ideas to help turn your garden into a mini nature reserve and the RHS is a great source – take a look at the following link to learn more: http://www.rhs.org.uk/Gardening/Sustainable-gardening/Wildlife-and-the-gardener

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