Wildlife Gardening

Things are improving in the countryside regarding wildlife, with farmers leaving strips of
fields uncultivated to provide wildlife havens and using less damaging sprays, but there is
still a lot we can do to encourage wildlife in our gardens. By providing food and shelter for
birds and other wildlife it is possible to reduce the amount of sprays and chemicals used in
the garden. If you go out into the countryside you will see a lot less insect pests such as
aphids. In nature there are no problems with pest and diseases because of survival of the
fittest. If a plant is affected badly by a pest it will die and a few of that species will survive
and the next generation will be a little stronger and more able to resist an attack from a
pest. The next thing is that the pest evolves and kills the plant and the whole process
starts again.
The first obvious item to have in your garden to encourage wildlife is a bird table to feed
the birds. As well as feeding the birds we need to provide shelter and places for the birds
to roost. If your garden is large enough you can plant trees. This not only supplies places
for the birds to roost but also a nesting place and somewhere to hang bird feeders. You
can encourage birds to nest by putting up nest boxes in the garden. Planting trees and
shrubs that produce berries will produce a plentiful supply of natural food for the birds and
further roosting places. It is probably a good idea to avoid trees such as Elder because
blackbirds love them but the result of this ends up all over the washing and cars. Another
food for birds is insects. Insects can be encouraged by piling up old tree trunks and small
branches in a shady corner of the garden, out of the way. These piles will also provide
shelter and food for hedgehogs and other small mammals. Butterflies and moths can be
encouraged by planting shrubs such as Buddleia and lavender. If you have a large garden
have an area that you can have as a wildlife area that you do not cut or treat, just do the
minimal amount of work to keep it tidy. (K.H.)

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