Encourage the wild in your garden


It doesn’t matter what space you have – even a simple window box can be used thoughtfully to increase wildlife, says Dorset Wildlife Trust

Catmint (nepeta) will flower through the summer, attracting lots of bees and butterflies.

With summer on its way and flowers blooming across the Blackmore Vale, you might be spending more time out in your garden. Whether you are a keen horticulturist or take a more hands-off approach, your garden or green space can act as a mini nature reserve.
A few simple steps can make a patch of any size an inviting home for wildlife, from the vital pollinators we rely on for food production to beautiful birds nesting in our trees and hedgerows. Whether you’re tending a garden, balcony, or window box, here are some ways to make it a welcoming space for wildlife.
Planting for pollinators.Lavender, heather, borage – these plants are all magnets for bees, butterflies and the host of other insects that keep the ecosystem moving with their pollinating powers. This works whether it’s across a small meadow or a window-box, so you can help no matter what space you have. Autumn and spring are the best times to scatter wildflower seeds, but in the meantime, you can buy plants such as lavender and catmint, which will flower throughout summer and attract lots of bees and butterflies.
Not using pesticides.
Insects are vital for so many natural processes and are best left to thrive. Natural control methods can help keep your crops healthy. Attract hedgehogs, birds and toads to your garden with shelter, water and native plants and they may reward you by keeping populations of unwelcome visitors at bay. Companion planting is another great way to let natural processes help keep your plants healthy. Popular combinations include alliums, such as onions and leeks, growing alongside carrots to deter carrot fly, and growing calendula flowers with beans to draw away aphids.
Adding a pond.
A pond provides a fantastic habitat for a range of species, such as frogs and dragonflies, that you might not otherwise find in the garden. If possible, include a shallow edge with rocks and plants to provide a safe, sheltered place to drink and bathe for small wildlife species and insects. Purchase a mix of floating and submerged native plants for optimum wildlife-friendliness inside the pond.

There’s no denying that space for wildlife habitats has been in decline for some time. As our population grows, so must our towns and demand for land for agriculture and industry. This inevitably leads to wild space being taken up for human use. Gardening with wildlife in mind is one way we can create all-important ‘corridors’ to help wildlife recover and thrive.

Find out more about wildlife gardening and how you can support nature’s recovery at dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk


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