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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Wildlife Gardening in Curry Rivel, Somerset

A contribution to our draft Parish Plan which we hope to publish in draft form in November! Some photos will be added from our Village open garden day

Photo of a Bug Hotel with some rooms occupied! Photo taken in local garden during Somerset Art Week!

Gardeners have a huge role to play in the future of wildlife as the traditional British countryside changes. Being more wildlife-friendly doesn't mean you have to have a messy garden, but it does mean forsaking the ideal of a perfect lawn and rigidly trimmed borders, but encouraging nature in gardens can be rewarding and inexpensive.
Feeding the birds with bought seeds and nuts is popular; less expensive alternatives in the wildlife garden are flower seed heads, holly berries, walnuts and apples, attracting birds, wood mice and squirrels. Planting native hedges is really worthwhile for the shelter and food they provide in the form of berries, seeds, insects and spiders. Smaller mammals like wood mice use the base of the hedgerow for shelter, bats need hedgerows and wood edges for their protection and navigation and moths love any white or cream coloured flowers like blackthorn in the hedge.
Attracting bees to the garden can be achieved by planting flowers such as foxgloves, honeysuckle, asters, dahlias, geraniums, marigolds and sunflowers. Clover flowers found in untreated lawns are important for bees, as a source of both pollen and nectar. Leaving some long grass on the margins of the garden cuts down on the mowing and the beetles, caterpillars, butterflies and grasshoppers in the mini jungle will in turn benefit the birds, bats and hedgehogs.
Many of our most colourful and well known butterflies depend on nettles for the growth of their larvae but will also enjoy lavender or buddleia bushes and fallen fruit.
The hedgehog is very much the gardener’s friend, feeding on a variety of invertebrates such as snails and slugs, beetles, caterpillars and worms. A pile of composted leaves will provide a perfect spot for the hedgehog to hibernate in a cold winter. A pile of logs or roof tiles is the perfect refuge for spiders, ladybirds, bees, frogs and slow worms.
Deadwood hedges are a great way to provide a whole habitat for a large number of animals to call home, as well as providing a very easy way of getting rid of branches and waste which are too woody to put on the compost heap. Other garden waste can be composted to make one of the best soil improvers you’ll ever have, and certainly the cheapest!
A water feature - even a simple bowl can encourage frogs and other wildlife which will feed on bugs and snails. Dragonflies will often breed in them, and many birds may use them to drink and bathe in.
Making a small change to the way we garden can make a huge difference to wildlife.

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