Having a much larger garden than in our previous house has been really exciting as we all really enjoy being outside. The garden obviously hadn’t been touched for a while and the end of the garden was a wilderness. I know that this has encouraged wildlife to reclaim this area but I also believe that areas should be managed to enable wildlife and people to coexist. You can actually create wildlife havens in any garden but this does mean just leaving an area and forgetting about it. I have always been interested in local wildlife and am a member of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. When I was younger I was always writing letters to MP’s about local and international issues but I now believe that starting at home is more important. If we teach our children to recycle, compost and look after their own environment, perhaps we can protect and create enjoyable spaces for both wildlife and communities to live together. Well, its a start anyway…..
We had a lot of ivy in the garden which had grown over everything! Ivy is great for wildlife as it provides food and shelter for different creatures as well as covering areas that you don’t want to see. However, we had so much that it was not allowing any light for other plants to flourish. The dry stone walls had tumbled down so they needed repairing. As we began to clear some of the ivy we found the pond was much larger than we first thought. It was full of leaves and mud but also full of frogs, toads and newts! I began by getting in and clearing out the mud and rotten material. If you need to do this, the best time of year is in the Autumn as many of the creatures will have left the pond to find shelter in your garden ready to hibernate. The next best time is early spring which is when I tackled this job.
The pond already had Irises in there so I added lots of plants that will add oxygen to the water as well as some water plants in baskets for the edges. Around the edge I added larger pebbles to enable creatures to get in and out of the pond. Over the spring and summer we had lots of frogs, toads and newts in the pond as well as some frog spawn! Our neighbours had so much frog spawn that she offered me some but this is not a good idea as it can spread disease. Instead, I hope we get more next spring.
We have found other animals in the garden too. There are quite a few slow worms who love to sunbathe near the pond on a warm day. They are quite big and really gave me a shock when I nearly trod on one! They are now in the compost box hibernating as I have found about 3 in there recently! I have stopped turning my compost for the winter to ensure they are not harmed. We also have a resident hedgehog which sadly I found with a wound on its nose (hence the picture). Luckily my sister is a vet so she patched him up and we released him back into the garden where he is presently hibernating under the shed! As you can see he is very fat so obviously finding enough food. We have made sure there is hedgehog friendly fence at the back of the garden so that he can move between gardens. This is especially important as apparently hedgehogs need about 5 miles so that they can find food and friends. Of course we had to name him….his name is Hubbard…..isn’t he cute!
Hedgehogs are increasingly rare and are having a rough time so if you find one in the winter months or in daylight something is wrong and it would be better to take it to a hedgehog hospital or wildlife centre.
I’m really pleased with the pond area now and have planted lots of woodland bulbs which will hopefully come up in the spring. Managing this area will hopefully bring in more wildlife as well as sustaining the animals we already have. I watched bats in the summer swooping in on a summer’s evening to eat insects that had hatched from the pond. Now, in the winter, squirrels and birds visit the bird table we have put up near the apple tree. It really is a wildlife friendly area and I’m so lucky to be able to live here.
OH THE JOYS OF LIVING IN AN OLD HOUSE IN THE SHIRES.