Today is the start of Wild About Gardens Week and gardeners and community groups across Britain are uniting in an effort to halt the decline of UK species. It’s community-led and everyone is invited to join in.
Hedgehog numbers have reduced by a third since the millennium and tortoiseshell butterflies, once common in gardens, have declined by 77%. The RHS and The Wildlife Trusts (TWT) are spearheading a new initiative to help halt declines such as these, and are calling on the public to get involved in Wild About Gardens Week (25–31 October).
Chris Baines, Vice President of The Wildlife Trusts, said: “The nation’s gardens are hugely important for wildlife and as a habitat network they are second to none”.
“There are many simple ways in which we can make our gardens naturally richer. Nest boxes, birdfeeders, log piles, nectar plants, fruiting shrubs, wall climbers and ponds provide valuable habitat; and, as each of us improves our garden for wildlife, the plants and animals that we attract bring more pleasure in return. It’s a win-win situation”
The RHS and TWT have teamed up to raise awareness and talks and events will be held at the four RHS Gardens and TWT visitor centres throughout the week. There will also be wildflower seed giveaways by TWT and the public will be asked to ‘Do One Thing’ – whether this is to create a pond, build a hedgehog house or simply put out bird seed. TWT and RHS will be offering free advice and resources via Wild About Gardens and the RHS Advisory Service.
The RHS will encourage its 3,300 community gardening groups, 17,250 schools, 145 Partner Gardens and the public to hold wildlife gardening events. Groups and individuals can log events on the website. The first 200 registered groups to add events will receive free bulbs from the RHS.
Helen Bostock, RHS Horticultural Advisor, adds: “What’s most alarming at the moment is that many of the ‘common’ garden species – hedgehogs, house sparrows, and common frogs, for example – are becoming much less common. This is where gardeners can make a difference and help to halt the declines we’re seeing, by making their gardens more wildlife friendly. This should be a wake-up call to all of us.”