Aileen Scoular offers some suggestions on how to make your garden more appealing to wildlife.
Even in midsummer, there are still plenty of ways to make your garden more appealing to wildlife. Aileen Scoular has some simple suggestions.
Provide shelter for frogs and toads
Create some sheltered hidey-holes – not only will they provide a snug spot for winter hibernation later, it gives frogs and toads somewhere to hide from curious cats and dogs. Lay flat paddlestones or old slate roof tiles on top of sturdy branches or large pebbles – the opening just needs to be tall enough for the creatures to crawl under.
Open up a bee hotel
Insects appreciate shelter, too – particularly solitary bees who pollinate our flowers and fruit trees. Try a shop-bought version like the Sainsbury's Bee House, £5 or make your own. Alex Mitchell has designed a really chic hotel for solitary bees in her book, The Rurbanite: Living in the Country without Leaving the City (paperback, RRP £16.99, Kyle Books). All you need is an old wine crate, which you then fill with blocks of wood, pre-drilled with bee-sized holes and hollow stems such as bramble and bamboo.
Choose the right flowers
Nothing brings the bees flocking like late-flowering, daisy-shaped flowers, such as sunflowers, Echinacea (coneflower) and Helenium (sneezeweed). Insects and butterflies also love Achillea (yarrow), fennel and cow parsley, as well as flowering herbs such as marjoram, lavender and rosemary.
Make a mini pond
A pond of any size is a magnet for wildlife. Use any large waterproof container – a wooden half-barrel, a zinc container, or a glazed ceramic planter. (If you’re concerned about leakage, you can line it with a piece of plastic or pond liner.) Block up any drainage holes with silicone sealant, fill with water and pop in a few oxygenating plants, such as Callitriche verna. Then, put it in a place that enjoys both sun and shade, and watch the pond life appear.
Cut back on the slug pellets
Slugs and snails do most damage to young leaves and seedlings. So, now that your summer plants are well established, you can cut back on the slug pellets. If some plants are still being munched, choose organic slug pellets with the active ingredient ferrous phosphate.
Plant a fruit tree
Crab apples are particularly wildlife-friendly; many varieties produce up to ten times more spring pollen than a typical apple tree – perfect for hungry insects – and birds will feast on the tiny apples in autumn. Plant pot-grown fruit trees now, or wait for value-for-money bare-root trees in autumn.
Aileen Scoular is a freelance writer and a keen gardener. She has previously opened her small London garden to raise money for charity and regularly grows her own vegetables and wildlife-friendly plants from seed.
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