Your garden, when at its best, is a natural wonder to behold and, if the right preparations are made, a natural home for wildlife
Look after the birds – all year round
Agricultural changes to the environment have meant that the number of wild birds in our beautiful world is diminishing, a fact which highlights just how important it is to care for and help our feathered friends. You may be surprised at the types of food you are able to feed birds – which will be sure to keep them coming back for more.
Cheese: avoid soft or mouldy cheeses; only use hard cheeses, cutting it down into small, bite-size chunks.
Eggs: cooked eggs are a great source of nutrients for birds, while the shell itself can also be a brilliant source of calcium and helps aid digestion.
Pasta and rice: both contain plenty of great carbohydrates for birds but wash thoroughly beforehand to get rid of any oils and salt.
Vegetables: mix with sunflower seeds for the perfect bird treat!
Meat: meat, such as beef fat, would be an ideal feast for birds, but make sure it’s in small digestible chunks. Plenty of protein on offer here!
A selection of other great leftover food to use would be cereal (with little to no sugar content), pet food, and baked goods (such as bread, cakes and biscuits). All of these, if you’re putting them into your bird feeder, should be soaked with water beforehand to make it easier for the birds to digest.
Protecting our beloved bees
Basically, we need bees to survive. Bees pollinate, helping plants to grow, breed and produce food. They do so by transferring pollen between flowering plants, thus keeping the cycle of life turning. Many plants we depend on for our food rely on pollination. Therefore, looking after our bees and helping them do their all-important work is one of the best things we can do for nature. Some simple actions could help tremendously.
The right flowers: simple native flowers (rather than other, more elaborate flowers), such as lavender, buddleia and sedums all produce plenty of nectar, ensuring a buzzing, populated garden of bees.
Leave the weeds alone: although weeds are generally considered the villains of any garden, wild-growing dandelions can be considered a free food and a beneficial weed, rather than a nuisance, offering bees a brilliant source of sustenance.
Quench bees’ thirst: a water feature, such as a water basin, would be a perfect way to feed bees (as long as there are some floating objects in the water, such as corks, so the bees don’t drown).
Other great features to add to your garden
Growing a range of trees, shrubs and climbers will provide food and shelter for certain wildlife. Larger plants, particularly trees, support more wildlife by offering food in the form of flowers, fruits and seeds, and provide cover and nesting sites for garden animals.
Some smaller trees and shrubs that are particularly good for blossom and berries include rowan, crab apple, elder, blackthorn and hawthorn. Fruit trees attract and support a range of wildlife, whilst also supplying you with a useful crop.
One of the most effective, promising ways to bring wildlife to your very own garden is a pond. The size doesn’t matter too much – even a container holding enough water where various wildlife can swim, drink and rest is beneficial. Allow water plants to grow and colonise to help encourage the presence of wildlife; and try to ensure the pond has a sloping base to help amphibians get in and out easily and enjoy the shallower waters.
Steep or sloped ground and rocky areas are another way to attract wildlife to your garden. If planted well, rock gardens and gravel beds can bring in wildlife such as mason bees.
With a rock garden, a pond and a meadow, your garden will soon look like the bee’s knees! Creating a meadow isn’t particularly complicated and it can add so much charm and wildlife to your plot. A meadow consists of a mixture of grasses and wildflowers, so all you need are the right seeds and a bit of time!
Sprinkling your meadow with wildflower seeds could also produce the likes of poppies, nigella and corn marigolds. Meadows are great for insects, and mowing paths through the meadows invites plenty of exploration.
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