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Wildlife gardening...hopes for the future

I sincerely hope the current trend in the promotion of wildlife-friendly gardening continues apace. I am 50; I have gardened in this vein since first seeing Chris Baines' TV programme "Blue Tits And Bumblebees : The Making of a Wildlife Garden" and his book from 1985. I have been a jobbing professional gardener since 2003 in the KT22 area of Surrey and I only advertise  as a "Wildlife friendly gardener". There are MANY gardeners working this area..we border 'stockbroker belt' Cobham & Oxshott but the take up of my 'specialist' services is very slow. Over the fence conversations with owners neighbouring gardens that I work in, would surprise you greatly in how oblivious most people are to our interests. I have to express that the wealthier garden owners around here have NO urge whatsoever to be wildlife-friendly. It's all brick-paved driveways; chemically-treated lawns and clipped evergreens. It's such a shame that huge swathes of Surrey are populated by people with this way of thinking. I am friends with another local more generalist gardener and very few of his customers will tolerate a compost heap or even leaf bins. I took on a 3/4 acre garden in August 2011 that the owners have been in for 23 years and every ounce of garden waste has been dumped in that time. I have just produced his first batches of compost and leaf mould and he is seriously amazed at what he has been wasting. His more elderly neighbours still burn all their leaves. My polite protestations have,so far, fallen on deaf ears. Just one years worth of bee-friendly perennial planting have made a noticeable impact upon the activity in the same garden. I work in 22 gardens and only two do not have compost heaps. Some are supported by green-waste bins that take the hard to process spikey stuff etc but in the larger gardens I store waste and have one winter bonfire and use the wood-ash for fertilising those gardens that grow fruit. I am lucky that in some of these gardens, I get a completely free rein and can plant whatever I like so I feel I make a significant impact. But a large percentage of the 'gardener-employing' public have grown up with gaudy bedding and hanging baskets and the obsession with tidyness, so it will be a long haul to change this prevailing attitude. So, PLEASE continue to do your bit and encourage your friends,family and neighbours to do theirs





  • Oh my God,someone ,at last supporting what I have been saying for 50 years. I live in Surrey and know what you mean. I can't understand why people buy houses with gardens and then build 6" fences and walls. Then they concrete the garden and turn it into a monument patch with trees growing in pots.!! It is all to do with "control", I'm told.The trees are clipped and no wildlife is allowed in this NEAT patch. They have told me to REMOVE my compost bins(oh yeah) and water butts, as they are "ugly".Not aesthetic is the word! I could go on...!

    Bye the way, they LIKE watching the wildlife in my garden. How sad.

    PS I have just bought more compost bins and water butts.

  • figratfigrat Posts: 1,619
    I always find it odd when people ask whether 'the garden's finished yet'! I try and explain that it's not like painting a room - I love working with the rhythm of the seasons.

    I have 3 compost bins, and store a season's worth of leaves in a builder's dumpy bag, have just emptied out 2010 vintage on to a border- but I do appreciate the fact that I've got enough space to do that separately from the main garden, and I wouldn't appreciate it at all if I was asked to remove them for 'aesthetic' reasons.
  • It's difficult not to start adopting a slight sense of ownership of other people's gardens, but in many cases you have to be content with achieving things by stealth. The customer is, sadly, always right. He's bought the house and he's paying the council tax and your invoices.

    Happily, my gardens are all pretty wildlife friendly, although one has gone in for Green Digit and lost hundreds of bees as a result.

  • figratfigrat Posts: 1,619
    What's Green Digit Joe?
  • joslowjoslow Posts: 218

    I grew up in East London in the 60's, what was a garden back then, a patch of grass, no flowers, nothing. People look back as if everyone had these great wildlife friendly gardens at least nowadays blocks of flats come with some landscaping and people are trying to grow flowers in containers on their balconies. Who in london made compost, what sort of recycling went on. I am happy to do my bit but I am not lecturing my neighbours on what they can do in their own gardens, I would be battered and bruised if I tried.

  • Thank you Joe, I pay council tax too and I do not tell them what to do in their garden. Besides, they do not need to look at what I have in my garden. They even threatened to contact the council and complain about my "untidy" garden as I leave the berries etc. over winter for the birds!! Sad or what.

  • Ye gads, where in Surrey are you? I am in Surrey too and my neighbours all feed the birds and not a single concreted garden in sight.

  • On that note, I'm off to the garden centre to buy yet another bird feeder as I can't keep up with the greedy little gits! image

  • MrsEMrsE Posts: 1

    I have just had an idea for free food for the birds. Apple skin and the cores! I usually throw them in the compost but this year I am freezing them for later in the year when it is colder. The birds just love apples, so I am sure they won't be too fusy about not being given a whole apple

  • Gracie5Gracie5 Posts: 125

    When I first started gardening with wildlife in mind I didn’t have a clue about what plants to buy.  I wrote to seed companies to ask if they would mention on their seed packets which of the plants were nectar rich, I never got a reply . I asked at garden centres for advice but without much help, but if I saw bees surrounding a plant I would buy it, at least it was a start.  I did most of my research on the internet and bought books which helped me in creating a fantastic garden for wildlife bringing a whole new dimension to my gardening, and the rewards have been amazing. A new hobby emerged, taking photos of the wildlife that comes into the garden.   I started eight years ago and now with all the recent publicity on the benefits and importance of attracting wildlife to the garden, new wildlife gardeners shouldn’t have a problem in knowing where to start. I do think though, that we gardeners for wildlife are very much in the minority.  

    "hopes for the future"  lets just hope that all the recent publicity is not making it become 'fashionable' to garden for wildlife, it has to be forever.

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