This Monday saw the first RoH Wildlife Workshop, run by Lynn at her volkstuin in Schellingwoude. Here is a summary of what was covered with a few useful links:
The concept of gardening for wildlife:
- Think of creating an inviting and enticing living space for wildlife.
- Create opportunities for wildlife to find SHELTER, FOOD and WATER in your patch.
- Keep it simple, cheap, organic and as natural as possible.
- Aim to increase biodiversity.
- Leave key shelter areas undisturbed, especially during hibernation and brooding seasons. Dig less!
- Think native bees rather than honey bees. They overwinter in the ground, stonework, hollowed out branches etc.
- Think food webs. Encourage or grow a food source (e.g. nectar rich flowers) and the consumers will follow (e.g. flowers -> pollinators -> birds).
- Keep resources in your patch: Annual weeds can go under the soil, hot compost the tougher perennials weeds, save branches..
Survey your patch and plan:
- Get a baseline of what grows there and who visits your garden.
- Look for areas which are damp, dry, messy, quiet, sheltered, cat safe.
- Plan locations for bird boxes, bird feeders, log piles, nectar rich flowers, compost heaps, hedges, hedgehog shelters, pond etc.
- If you like things super-tidy in your garden then there are still options to help wildlife.
- Kitchen sink size or bigger works well.
- Gently sloping sides for easy exit by amphibians and small mammals.
- Plants to oxygenate water, give shelter, reduce algae and provide nectar.
- Let the wildlife come rather than adding fish for birds to take away.
- Wetland plants.
- Bee drinking stations.
- Floating water plant bowls.
- Saucer of water.
- Consider edible hedgerow plants.
- Make from cuttings to save money.
- Consider “native” plants.
- Elder babies (cuttings).
- Multipurpose plants.
- Leave some piles of pruned branches in quiet piles as wildlife shelters.
- Birds nest in hedges. Time your hedge pruning/trimming outside of the nesting season and check first.
- Better for wildlife than fences. Make 12cm diameter semicircle holes at base of any fences for hedgehog access between gardens. Get your neighbours to do it too! Hedgehogs need several urban gardens to support them.
- Community: Get friendly with organic gardeners. Join a community garden. Share knowledge, plants and connection.
- Take cuttings.
- Split perennials.
- Grow from seed.
- Possible to feed birds and hedgehogs through year. It can encourage them into your plot but really they should be eating the pests in your garden.
- Nectar rich flowers year round. Look at what’s in flower locally or in the garden centers and gradually build up your year-round flower plants to please as much wildlife as possible.
- Different colours attract different pollinators.
- Winter is the lean time.
- Leave many seed spikes standing dead on perennial plants. It helps you to see where the plants will reappear in spring and also provides food for wildlife such as birds.
Some useful links:
The second workshop in this series will be at the ROH orchards in Park Frankendael. We will be looking at creating Food, Shelter and Water opportunities for wildlife in a completely different setting. The third workshop will be back at Lynn’s volkstuin in September, to look at Food, Shelter and Water in preparation for autumn and winter.