No matter how few possessions you own or how little money you have, loving wildlife and nature will make you rich beyond measure.Paul Oxton
Wildlife gardening gives us something tangible to fix in a broken world.
It feels like we have so little control over protecting nature. We try but seem to be failing to influence politicians to take drastic action over climate change.
I can see the effects on my garden. The spring flowers are out even earlier this year. There’s a dry patch in April – what happened to April showers? The plants in the ground are wilting or drowning with the constant flash flooding.
I feel totally powerless, worried and scared.
When the world around us seems scarily out of control, the only thing we can, control is what happens in our own garden.
Filling up the bird feeder, leaving leaves on the ground, letting the grass grow long, are ways I feel I am getting some sort of control over the spiralling climate emergency.
Even with those small actions, it still feels like a battle. I find myself having to defend my new way of gardening. To the relatives who think it looks messy, to the hedge-trimming farmer who just cut down my long grass, to myself who worries that the aphids will take over and to hold my nerve till the lacewings arrive!
But repetition definitely helps increase my confidence and my resolve. This is our third year of leaving the grass to go long, not buying any pesticides and trying to make as much compost as possible. This is the year I now look at that messy half-dead tree and see a vital habitat and not a problem to be cut down. It’s now that I look at dandelions as bee food and not annoying weeds.
By rebranding the weeds as wildflowers and re-envisioning my garden as a haven for nature, not a place for me to impose my tidy nature, I’m happier and I think the plants, insects and animals are too.
By helping the wildlife in our gardens, increasing biodiversity, planting more wildflowers and native hedging, we can do our small bit.
During lockdown, even though I was socially distanced, I felt more connected to nature. Being able to network with nature was a lifeline for me and my family.
It now feels that – dare I say it “post-lockdown,” every corner of society is becoming more networked with nature. From music to mental health. There are songs made entirely from birdsong, documentaries about Fungi top the Netflix charts and doctors prescribe time in nature.
Thank goodness, says nature – we thought you forgot about us.
How to help nature in your garden
I was going to write a post about all the things you can do to help nature and encourage wildlife into your garden, but everywhere I look there is tons of great advice about what you can do.
So here are a few:
- Nine ways to build a wildlife-friendly garden | National Trust
- Creating a Wildlife-friendly Garden | RSPB
- Seven simple ways to create a wildlife-friendly garden | NHM
- Wildlife gardening for everyone and everything | Kate Bradbury
- The Garden Jungle | Dave Goulson
- Wild Your Garden: Create a sanctuary for nature | Jim and Joel Ashton
- How to Attract Birds to Your Garden | Dan Rouse
- Rewild Your Garden | Frances Tophill
In the US there is the National Wildlife Federation’s Garden For Wildlife – Garden Certification Walk-through Checklist – which has a really good list of what you can do in your garden. If you live in the UK, you’ll have to skip the ‘hummingbird feeder,’ but the rest of the practices are really useful and go much further than just providing shelter for wildlife.
It’s packed full of sustainable practices to follow, from eliminating chemical pesticides and fertilizers to thinking about how to create water-wise landscaping and how to reduce erosion.
While I listen to the depressing headlines about flooding, superstorms and drought and see the effect on my own garden, all I can do is protect my patch. Try to make my own compost, protect my bees and insects, be kind to nature as best I can and hope others are doing the same too.
My big 2022 project will be removing a strip of brambles to replace it with some native hedging and to provide a sanctuary for birds and small mammals.
It’s not large, but I can control it, and do my small bit.