Five easy ways to make your garden wildlife friendly. March 03, 2017 16:16 1 Comment

Today is world wildlife day and the theme is a special one. "Listen to young voices" aims to encourage and engage young people (1/4 of the world's population) in the protection and conservation of wildlife.

For me, it is also a timely reminder of why I decided to stop renewing my annual travel card, and instead, plump for a life of deckchairs, cushions and garden style. It was for a love of family and a desire to spend more time with them. Ha! Eighteen months on, I'm wiser about the perils of being around, but not necessarily 'present'. But still, we try and occasionally succeed. Another heart felt belief driving the decision was the feel good effects of being outside. The desire to create items for the home and garden that share this sense of joy is a deliberate intention behind every item we produce.

Sometimes, it is important to stop and remind ourselves of the very thing that started this journey - the garden. So this weekend, I'm abandoning the computer, sewing machine & smart phone. Instead, I'm determined to spend a few hours outside with the nippers. And together, we're going to give our local wildlife an extra bit of love with five easy ideas to make the garden more wildlife friendly. 

1. Reposition nest & bird boxes: The birds are literally tapping on the windows this week, looking for a nice new home. And while we have a whole load of bird boxes in and around the garden, quite a few of them are poorly situated. Similar to us at D&F towers, feathery birds are a picky bunch. They don't like a north facing aspect (too cold and draughty). They don't want to move into a squalid mess left by the previous owner (quite right). And they really don't want some kind of lapsed security system which allows next door's cat to prowl around outside their perch. So, the boys and I are going to have a spruce up by moving uninhabited boxes that are poorly positioned to better, warmer climes; cleaning out any empty boxes that still haven't had a good freshen up and move a few up out of the way of claws and paws. 

2. Flowers without the Frills: As it turns out, it is not just 'out of the mouths' that children impart wisdom, it is also from their drawings. My boys draw flowers in their most simplest form. Normally a few petals. Five at a push. 'Simple' flowers are apparently the most important type for wildlife. It is far easier for pollinating insects to 'get in there' so to speak, and grab the goodness they need. Bell shaped flowers, and simple, open petalled flowers are ideal. Sounds good to me. We'll be adding a few more Geums to the borders (now is a good time to get them in) and a dog rose into a bare patch in the hedgerow.

3. Butterfly bush: Gawd, how I used to loathe Buddleja. It was ever present on the verges of the railway-line that I used to travel along on my daily commute. Scrawny stems, unwieldy and unkempt, seemed to serve no purpose. Similar to how I felt about that train journey with its delays and general sense of misery. Happily, I've moved on. Not one to hold a grudge, I have found different varieties to the common purple 'train' buddleja and now have not one but two in the garden. They are still unwieldy things, but loveable, teeming with butterflies, moths and bugs in the summer months. This weekend, we'll snip off any bits that have become broken and damaged in the recent high winds and give it a little extra support with twine and stakes. 

4. Bucket pond. "NOT NEAR THE POND" is a familiar cry in our house. I've perfected the shrill, fish wife screech to a tee. However, it is like trying to keep two magnets away from each other. Boys and ponds are just meant to be. The kids love the frogs; are fascinated by newts and ecstatic at the sight of water boatmen skating across the pond. To save my nerves and sanity, we are going to build the boys their own 'mini' pond. Take one plastic bucket (those bright coloured tubs you can get are my material of choice) whip off the handles, dig a hole and then drop it in. Fill with water and 'voila' - a pond that the boys can call their own, with hazards dramatically reduced. 

5. Muck and Mulch. Not exactly a strong claim to fame but er, muck is in abundance here. Lots of it. My very kind horse-mad neighbour heaps it up into hot, steamy piles, ready for myself and my other neighbours to gleefully spread it around our gardens. The boys will be SQUEALING at the sight of steaming forks of horsey poo. Oh the laughs we'll have... Anyway, now is a great time to spread some well rotten manure around the base of small apple trees and cordons, giving them a nice boost of goodness before they really get to work with blossom, and hopefully, fruit to follow. The mulch is full of worms which either survive the transition, or provide food for our resident robin. Meanwhile the manure combined with a warm, dry spring, (fingers firmly crossed) should help provide more blossom for the bugs and beasties to enjoy later this year. Everyone's a winner.