Category Archives: Gardens

Wildlife-friendly gardens worth more to homebuyers

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A new survey has revealed that two-thirds of housebuyers would consider paying more for a wildlife-friendly garden.

The research found that seven out of 10 people in the UK would consider paying extra for a property that has a wildlife-friendly garden. The RSPB and the property website Rightmove asked 1,548 people a series of questions relating to gardens and garden wildlife.

In answer to the question ‘would you pay more for a house with a wildlife friendly garden?’ 14% of people surveyed answered ‘yes, definitely’, another 14% answered ‘probably’ and 39% said ‘maybe’.

Of those surveyed, seven out of 10 (69%) described the area in which they live as either urban or suburban; more than half (56%) have children; and more than nine out of 10 (93%) said they were happy when they saw wildlife in their garden.

The survey was carried out to get an insight into people’s knowledge and interest in UK garden wildlife following the launch of the RSPB’s new campaign, Giving Nature a Home, which aims to help tackle the crisis facing the UK’s threatened wildlife.

The charity is urging the nation to provide a place for wildlife in their own gardens and outside spaces and hopes to inspire people across the UK to create a million new homes for nature.

Sarah Houghton, RSPB campaign manager, said: “Gardens provide a valuable lifeline for things like starlings, toads, hedgehogs and butterflies, so we want to persuade people to give nature a home where they live – it could really help make a difference.”

Things to do during wild gardens week

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As it’s Wild About Gardens Week,  here are some practical ways that the RHA recommend to enhance your garden for wildlife, from feeding birds to building ponds. Get into the habit of doing these things and you’ll make a big difference to the wildlife you will find in your garden.

  • Plant a tree – they are important for attracting wildlife because they produce large amounts of nectar at blossom time.  They also attract mini-beasts that make their home in the bark, and birds come hunting them for food.
  • Make a log shelter – dead wood is both home and food for various beetle grubs and many tiny creatures that make a tasty snack for birds, hedgehogs and frogs. You can get logs from  tree surgeons or firewood dealers.
  • Build a bug mansion which will attract insects and other creatures into your garden. You can make the basic framework out of five wooden pallets, and you can fill the gaps with dead wood, straw, hay, dry leaves and holes for toads and bees.
  • Put in a pond – it will attract wildlife with amazing speed, including birds, amphibians, insects and mammals you might never see otherwise.
  • Build a compost café – it will reduce landfill, enrich your soil and attract wildlife. All you need is waste organic material, air and water. Or you should be able to get one from local councils, as many now offer compost bins at reduced prices in a bid to reduce landfill.

 

Go wild in the garden

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Pic: RHS/Tim Sandall

 

 

 

 

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.”

Gardeners urged to give nests a rest this Spring

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Pic by RSPB

If you are planning to do some gardening at the weekend be careful of nesting birds that may have made their home in trees, hedges, shrubs and in roofs.

With the long, hard winter now hopefully behind them birds have started making nests, but because of the prolonged wintry conditions and late start to spring, they are already up against it. The RSPB has warned that nest sites are at a premium thanks to many of the usual sites provided by trees, shrubs and hedging still being lifeless and providing no cover.

Val Osborne, the RSPB’s head of Wildlife Enquiries, said: “At this time of year there is normally is plenty of shrubbery for birds to make safe nests in and hide from predators, but the late start to spring has meant that many leaves are yet to come out.

“Instead of their usual spots, birds may opt to build homes in more unusual places as well as ivy and other evergreens, so gardeners should stay alert and be vigilant when pottering about this weekend. If you come across a nest, leave well alone – birds that are disturbed may decide to abandon their eggs or young for fear of the site not being safe.”

And for those of us ready to get started in the garden, the RSPB is asking to hold back on the hedge cutting to avoid destroying nests and baby birds.

“This is a crucial time for our feathered friends. They’ve already been through a lot – especially the migrants with their late arrival into the country and the terrible conditions they had to contend with – so we need to make sure we help them as much as we can through the breeding season. Leaving nests well alone, providing high-energy food and a good supply of water should do the trick.”

The RSPB is also warning us that birds could be nesting in our roofs, including house sparrows and starlings, so hold off on any repairs until the nest is no longer in use.  “Usually no damage is caused by nesting birds, in fact the only way you’d know they were there is because of all the chattering and cheeping they do, but most people find that endearing,” said Val.

Grow flowers for bees – A guest post by Brigit Strawbridge

Bothwell Community Garden

It was truly amazing that Europe voted to support the partial ban on neonicotinoids this week, not least because it demonstrates a shifting awareness and consciousness of the importance of pollinators. However, although the restrictions will help enormously, they will not in themselves stop bee decline.

We need to continue the momentum we have built up on the pesticides issue, but also we all need, urgently, to PLANT MORE FLOWERS!

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We have lost a staggering 98% of wildflower meadows and grasslands in the UK since the 1940’s. It is difficult to change agricultural practices overnight, but it is easy for those of us with gardens to fill every available space in ours with nectar & pollen rich flowers.

Many people say they haven’t room for flowers because they are using it all to grow fruit & veg – but without the flowers to sustain the pollinators throughout their life-cycles……

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