Not just birds
Any bird friendly garden will surely attract other natural wildlife, such as butterflies, insects and maybe a hedgehog or even a fox.
Let's start with the butterflies and insects (on which birds feed) and bees.I bought a couple of green plastic patio tubs from a local store for about £3 each. Drill holes in the bottom and fill with peat as I described in my page about planting trees
. Then buy some packets of seeds (about £2 a pack normally). The best seeds for a bird or nature-friendly garden are seeds for "meadow" flowers; that is, flowers that would have grown naturally in fields in the 1950s but these days are hardly ever seen.
The seed mixes might be colourfully named as "Cottage Garden", "Hedgerow Haven", "Meadow Mixture" but they all mean the same thing, really. It's best to get a mix without
grasses added as this is a bit of a nuisance and can spread. I found one site on the Internet
, from whom I have not ordered, but who seem to offer exactly the right colourful mixtures to encourage flutterbyes and bees. All their profits go to conservation projects so we're all on the same wavelength here.
Alternatively buy from your local high street shop or garden centre - the important thing is to get planting sometime from February though to June. Don't panic if you've left it a bit late in the year, plant seeds will always germinate from February through September with a bit of TLC (like watering every day
unless it's rained heavily). The earlier you plant the earlier you will see your rewards, in both colourful flowers and visitors to your garden, all of which attract yet more birds.
So your garden now has two or three feeders, some patio tubs with wildflowers, maybe a tree or two in either a patio pot or directly in your garden. If it's not the middle of winter then your garden should be quite attractive to birds - and wildlife in general.
So how about other visitors? Unlike birds, it would seem there is little you can do to attract other wildlife, like hedgehogs, foxes and badgers. But of course, there are some things
you might do.
One day we caught a couple of squirrels on CCTV climbing our pagoda. Once we knew squirrels visited our garden (occasionally at least) we put out a special squirel food. It looks a bit like a corn-on-the-cob but squirrels are supposed to like it. They haven't touched it yet though, and it's been over a week...
A game of chance
Let's say you quite fancy hedgehogs visiting you. They are very garden friendly because they eat things like slugs, snails, beetles, worms and spiders. The first thing is to make sure a hedgehog can actually get into your garden without a rope ladder and grappling hooks!
If your garden fence is a tight fit all round your garden consider removing part of the bottom panel in the further corner. This is how our resident hedgehog
comes into our garden. The bottom rail of the fence panel is a bit rotten and he scraped away the soil under the panel and found his way in. Him and his mate, that is.
Not that they get on very well, as they fight over the hedgehog box we put down the bottom of the garden. The both came back with mouthfuls of dried leaves to line the box, but Hedgehog No. 1 didn't like Hedgehog No. 2 sharing his pad (although the reverse did not seem to be true).
Anyway, after months of following their antics with a CCTV, we've seen neither one for the last two months, so we're hoping that at least one of them is still hibernating in the hedgehog box. We'll know in about a month or so (Spring 2004).