Encouraging wildlife into your garden

An afternoon in the garden wouldn’t be the same without the buzz of a bumblebee, the chirp of the song thrush or the colourful flash of a butterfly. It’s a gardeners duty  to help wildlife along – whether that’s by offering food to the birds, providing insects with some healthy plants to live on, or creating a safe resting place for a hedgehog.

I’m not the biggest fan of creepy crawlies, but I came across a reassuring figure recently which outlined that the majority of the 22,400 species of insects we have in the UK are in fact beneficial to our gardens. I now look upon our multi legged friends in a different light, and if I can encourage a ladybird or two into my allotment to eat the greenfly off my tender courgette plants then the more the merrier!

Even with the summer coming to an end, there’s still lots of bumblebees around and they are in need of food. In the UK there’s 24 species of bumblebee but only eight are commonly found in most places, with many species in decline and under threat, including the great yellow bumblebee which is now only found on the north coast and islands in Scotland.

These insects have a vital role to play in producing many of the beautiful wild flowers we enjoy, as well as much of the food that we eat. Without them many of our plants wouldn’t produce seeds and a huge number of insects, birds and mammals would suffer as a result.

The good news is that we can all play a part in helping to provide habitats and food sources for our bees by growing the right kinds of flowering plants.  The Bumblebee Conservation Trust has an online app which will assess how ‘bee friendly’ your garden is and will also give you a tailored list of ten flowers to grow to help the bees throughout every season.

As well as bumblebees there’s many other animals and insects that are also important for garden and plant development. As well as being a great spot for frogs, a pond also offers a drinking and bathing area for birds and other animals – all of which help to keep the natural ecosystem in check.

When I first started gardening, I wanted everything to look perfect and feel manicured.  Now I find wild flowers, carefully ‘neglected’ corners and full and busy bird feeders much more appealing and rewarding. If the birds, bees and bugs are happy in the outdoor spaces that I’m lucky enough to have to enjoy, then I’m happy too – an added bonus is that an afternoon in the garden is never lonely for long.

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