Community gardening could help preserve nature and the environment.
The United Kingdom is home to an estimated 24 million gardens with every city/town and village having public green spaces.
Our wildlife, unfortunately, is in steep decline
We have lost 50% in the last five decades with one in ten of the surviving species remaining at risk of extinction in the UK.
One of the drivers for this deterioration is similar to part of the decline of the red fox, which is habitat loss caused by urban sprawl.
The UK is deficient of affordable housing, and the planning requirements for new builds have been relaxed as a consequence. We are now seeing more of ours and natures green wild spaces being swallowed up by housing developments.
We firmly believe that we all can help wildlife and change this alarming decline, and if collectively we think about the environment and what we can introduce into our own garden and public spaces to help wildlife survive in our urban areas.
By introducing a few plants beneficial to bees and insects and leaving an area in your garden to re-wild
You have taken steps to help to conserve the wild that lived on your land before you moved there.
Here are some uncomplicated steps you can take to promote nature, that won’t alter your enjoyment of your garden area, however, will only enhance it.
Benefits of gardening for nature
If your garden is generous enough you could leave an area to go wild and aesthetically improve this by scattering wildflower seeds and add natural shelter, creating a bed and breakfast area for insects.
Use natural items like logs/wood that can rot down naturally and provide a hiding space, and a food source for the invertebrates. Encouraging insects will encourage and feed the insectivore mammals and birds to your garden to feed on them.
Also, the dense cover of a wild area will provide a safe place for mammals like Hedgehogs/foxes and rodents to hide among.
Hedgehogs need help and little changes in your garden can turn the tide of decline.
One of the other mammals declining at an alarming rate is the much loved Hedgehog. These beautiful little critters are really struggling, and one issue is believed to be down to a loss of habitat, a lot of new builds now have completely enclosed gardens.
This is cutting off the habitat the hedgehog needs to stay safe as a result they are pushed onto our roads, and road collision victims are another driver to the Hedgehogs decline.
You can help by providing. Small hole in the perimeters of your garden to allow hedgehogs to enter and leave instantly increasing its habitat needed for hogs to thrive.
Another issue for the hedgehog's decline is garden pesticides like slug pellets. These kill, not only the target species but also affects the rest of the food chain that feeds upon these invertebrates.
Please find another way to control unwanted pests with a thought of how your actions will affect the species in your garden that you want to encourage.
Provide food for hedgehogs that will supplement their natural diet providing foodstuffs like meaty cat food and cat kibble could help a struggling hog and encourage them to your garden.
Introduce plants into your garden that also benefits nature especially bees and butterflies, these plants usually have bright colours and the most scented blooms.
Look at areas in your garden that you can introduce plants and foliage that will benefit and encourage insects and birds to visit.
A drab fence can be a perfect backdrop for climbing plants, and ivy’s that will not only have a more appealing appearance but sit back, and watch this space burst into life instead of a sterile, dull fence.
Plant up your garden with food for insects and birds, whether you have an acre plot or a more modest window box. Introduce plants that are great for attracting nature.
Butterflies and bees are also in trouble and declining at an alarming rate.
Research plants you can introduce into an existing established plot that will not only enhance your garden but be beneficial to nectar loving species.
Many of the species of plants that are great for wildlife is highly coloured or have a heavenly scent that they need to attract insects to help them pollinate and breed the next generation of plants.
Bees decline alarmingly in the UK
Here in the UK, and globally, bees are facing many threats. These include habitat loss, climate change, toxic pesticides and disease. The interaction between these makes an unpredictable future for bees and many other pollinators. These threats have led to nearly 1 in 10 of Europe's wild bee species facing extinction.
There is evidence that bees and other pollinator populations are less healthy and abundant than they have been. If action is not taken, pollinator declines will have severe implications for food production and the ornamental garden,
since many plants rely on bees and other insects, such as hoverflies to transfer pollen from one flower to another to set fruits and seeds.
What can I do?
Gardeners can and do help pollinators in many ways;
Due to the rich diversity of plants growing in Britain’s gardens, these outside spaces, and the gardeners who tend them, are critical to support a wide range of pollinators. There are often more pollinators in our nation’s gardens than in surrounding agricultural land.
There is though always space for more pollinators in our gardens. Here’s how you can do more to support pollinators in your garden, outside area or community.
Nectar and pollen-rich plants are crucial to support our pollinators; fill gardens and other ornamental plantings with a range of plants from the RHS Plants for Pollinators lists. RHS research found that the more flowers, the more pollinators will visit and it is important to have flowers across all seasons.
Avoid using pesticides wherever possible, never spray open flowers and always read and follow label instructions. Preventing and reducing pests and diseases by proper cultivation, cultivar selection, garden hygiene and using biological control should always be the first line of defence.
If pesticides are used to consider using short, persistent organic products. Accepting the presence of some pests can provide larval food for pollinators, for example, aphids are food for some hover fly larvae.
Provide nest sites for bees;
Either make your own, or you can purchase nests for solitary bees. Some will nest in hollow stems, such as bamboo canes or herbaceous plant stems.
Hole diameters in the range 2-8mm (up to 1/3in) are required. Cardboard nest tubes can be bought in garden centres. Holes 2-8mm (up to 1/3in) diameter can be drilled in fence posts or logs.
Place these nest sites in sunny positions. Some solitary bees nest in the ground, either in bare soil or short turf. They will find their own nest sites, so tolerate the small mounds of earth deposited by the female bees when they excavate their nest tunnels.
Purpose built bumblebee nest boxes often go unused. Instead, bumblebees usually prefer to nest in holes in the ground, for example under hedges with plants along the base.
One species, the tree bumblebee often uses bird nest boxes.
Provide water for pollinators.
Bees and other pollinators sometimes need to drink; having a shallow margin of a pond or a shallow dish filled with stones or marbles filled with water will provide a safe source of water.
Together by making small changes, we all can have an impact on the environment and help preserve the nature needed for a healthy ecosystem from the apex predator down.