Wildlife Gardening – Setting the Scene

Today many people are starting to develop a wildlife-friendly garden, but here at Forest Edge ours has been up and running for nearly twenty years now and we have a good deal of experience that we can share with others. Join us monthly, as the year progresses, to experience the ups and downs of an eco-friendly garden.

Hopefully the articles will stimulate you to enjoy the ‘added dimension’ achieved by giving wildlife a space in your garden too.

Forest Edge is literally that ….as our 1.25 acre garden abuts an ancient oak and hazel woodland in Hampshire, with its wild daffodils, bluebells, four species of deer and a number of other mammals. Situated at 100m above sea level, on a clay capping over chalk, the garden is not naturally an easy one to develop along traditional lines, but that was never our intention! Annette and I are captivated by the sound, movement and life of our resident wildlife – our ‘added dimension’ that is frequently lacking in more traditional gardens.

Strangely some gardeners imagine that being a wildlife-friendly plot means that we are over-run by weeds and the expression is merely a cover for an idle gardener. Clearly this is far from the truth, and a BBC researcher once flatteringly said that it ‘was the most beautiful garden she had visited’. Now we do feel that was rather over-doing things, but the point I’m making is that a wildlife-friendly garden can be beautiful.

Okay, so how does one start to be more wildlife-friendly? Firstly I feel that you need to be realistic about the types of wildlife that you can accommodate and attract. A town courtyard garden may only have space for bird feeders and an insect nectar bar in a large pot; the suburban plot can additionally accommodate nesting spots, fruit-bearing shrubs and a butterfly bush; but slightly greater space allows mini-meadows and log piles for amphibians.

Set out a scheme to adjust your garden, stage by stage, and enjoy the difference. The monthly articles will provide stimulus for you, backed up by science and experience, from which you can draw relevant ideas and practical hints.

Please note that the articles in the series were originally written in 2008 and 2009.

David is an ex-lecturer in Environmental / Biological Sciences.
He has written for most of the UK gardening magazines, including the RHS.
Forest Edge’s garden has been widely covered in magazines and has been featured in a BBC’s Gardeners’ World special.
He also maintains a blog at https://nwhwildlife.org/