Forum home Wildlife gardening

Back of beyond bit of garden

a1154a1154 Sunny South Scotland Posts: 1,033

I’m thinking lots of people leave bits of garden for wildlife, and wondered what is in there or what would you leave and would you maintain it at all? 

I have a bit beyond the compost bins, a few meters only, the ground falls away and it’s not anywhere I want to garden. 

I have been happy to leave it and for the last 5 or 6 years it’s been a thicket of raspberries, and I’m sure all sorts of nasty weeds. it’s full of birds all the time and rarely gets disturbed by me passing by. 

This year, dont know why but the raspberries didn’t come, and it looks to be mainly tall nettles. 

Im really liking it less, in fact thinking of the brush cutter, then covering it. I could put a hedge in and apologise to the birds while it establishes. Is this a bit dull though? What else could I do?  Not sure I can live with a massive nettle patch, even though i know it’s good for other wildlife.


  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 20,362

    I have a nettle patch on the edge of the forest. Never see anything interesting in it. But I have a large garden with lawns, flower borders, shrubs and trees and it's buzzing with wild life. Had baby hares in the long border, a grass snake in the middle border, lots of little lizards in the summer on the stone walls, wild bees with 4 honeycombs in an upside down wheelbarrow with a broken wheel, shrews, birds nesting in the shrubs and trees, loads of butterflies etc. Wild life likes gardens.

    Dordogne and Norfolk
  • Joyce21Joyce21 Posts: 15,489

    You could plant a few shrubs which have flowers followed by berries.

    SW Scotland
  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 21,134

    I agree with the above, I have a few so called wildlife areas, in reality, it’s because I never have time to get around to doing anything with them.?  I’ve never seen a caterpillar of any kind in the nettles patch. Yet I do have all the different butterflies.

    There was recently a tv programme monitoring wildlife in gardens, the tidy kept ones got far more than the one that had been left.

     I’ve got a very slopey bit of garden that I can’t walk on, we covered it in hydrangeas, all done from cuttings, they have suppressed the weeds and we have sparrows and wrens living in them.

    So, dont  feel guilty about hacking it down, there will be a lot of birds that will appreciate different plants instead of just the raspberry patch.

    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 6,314

    Is there room there to plant a small native tree - an elder, hawthorn, rowan or crab apple? That could dominate the view of the area but leave room for the nettles to stay as well, underneath it. That will provide more variety of habitat - some shade, some shelter, some height. You could also put in a few plug plants of native perennials to liven it up a bit - verbascum, ox eye daisies, cow parsley, dog roses on the sunny side, foxgloves, dog violets, snowdrops or bluebells on the shadier side.

    The finches in my garden are in the nettles and docks far more than anything else - they love them - and I have a large colony of house sparrows here as well who fly up in front of me in clouds when I walk past the nettles - and damsel and dragon flies are always hanging about there too. 

    Last edited: 26 October 2017 09:55:12

    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • a1154a1154 Sunny South Scotland Posts: 1,033

    Raisin I’m liking the idea of a crab apple. I think there is room for a hedge at the boundary, a crab apple centre. I have daisies and foxgloves I can plant. I’m thinking a pile of logs and branches to provide cover. this will be a big improvement I think. 

  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 6,314

    Perfect. A mixed hedge can be a marvellous wildlife habitat if you go for a nice combination of flowering and berry times and leave the trimming until late autumn when all the berries have been eaten.

    All you need then is a shallow bit of water and you'll have done all you can to help image

    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 3,531

    What wildlife needs most is for us not to use chemical pesticides and weedkillers. Though I fear the farmers won't stop until they're forced to.

    Last edited: 26 October 2017 12:26:24

  • Mark56Mark56 Windsor, BerkshirePosts: 1,653

    Successional flowering is the best for pollinators, as well as native wildflowers. I've managed to have something in flower until the first frosts of Nov and then a couple of early crocus & daffs start again in January/Feb. Mahonia is a good shrub for Nov-March when queens and honeybees will venture out on a sunny Winters day. The smell is delicious too. 

    Tree & dense shrubs are paramount for birds & often flower in Spring for bees followed by the berries. Provide nest boxes & feeders for winter, although it can take a while for them to be used (wildlife can be very fussy). 

    As Josusa47 says, avoid chemicals and go pretty much organic, natural predation will mostly find a balance in a matter of years.. rely on blue tits to feed off of the aphids. Leave stacks of logs for beetles & hedgehog nest boxes for hibernation as well as having fence or gate access points of 5 inches with neighbours. 

    It can be the smallest area or tiniest ways of change that can make the biggest difference, it doesn't have to look unattractive or utterly unmaintained. At the end of the day it's yours to enjoy, a lot of my pleasure from the garden comes from sitting and watching wildlife.

    Last edited: 26 October 2017 13:14:19

  • If you wanted a flowering hedge, or even just one plant to add to some others, how about Rosa rugosa, which has wonderful hips after the flowers.  You could also include some honeysuckle to climb through any trees or shrubs that you plant.

  • a1154a1154 Sunny South Scotland Posts: 1,033

    Hi Rosa, I wouldn’t use Rosa rugosa actually, just because I have quite a lot of it in other hedges, and wanted something different. I’m having a look at cherry plum. I don’t know it at all, but it seems to fit the bill. 

Sign In or Register to comment.