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Gardening For Wildlife

Having purchased a new home with a large small garden i'm in need of a little help and advice to get started thus i hope avioding mistakes along the way.

The Garden........

Well it's in a small East Yorkshire town called Hornsea and sandwiched between the RSPB reserve Hornsea Mere and the sea. The garden is in the town centre and within 1/2 mile of the beach and yet in a quaint private and quiet part of the town surrounded by several other gardens etc in a low lying area. It's largely sheltered from strong winds etc.

When i bought the house late June 2012 the garden was inaccessible "No Joke" and now i have a blank canvas to work with, start from afresh.

The house is south facing with the garden at the front which is triangular in shape. At the house the garden is approx 20m wide which narrows to a point some 30m to 35m away where there is an old mature Sycamore Tree. At mid day in summer the sun is directly over the top of the tree shinning down into the garden and directly at the front of the house.  To one side there is an ancient Privet hedge and the other a fairly high old brick wall.  From the front door the garden rises up the garden, the base of the Sycamore tree is roughly 2m higher than the front door step.  In the garden at the moment there is a small very mature Apple tree and an amazingly big and old Berberis and a couple of very small Holly trees.

I have decided to garden for wildlife and have decided on a pond fairly close to the house so that its visible from the windows. A feeding station too.

But can anybody help with plants etc that i should put in.

I've been a naturalist and a birdwatcher for years but i have no idea at all when it comes to gardening, never had a garden before.

Help much needed and appeciated.



  • plant  plants that are useful for butterflies,all sorts of buddleia ,sedums,e.t.c,pants that are similar to out native ones that attract wildlife and birds.Holly,hazel,hawthorn.You can make a really good beginning by planting what would make wild life attracted to your garden.Avoid being to tidy and using gravel ,make a shelter for birds and foxs  at the bottom .You have a pond ,do not put fish in it,and with time and ever gaining experience you ll have a garden to sit and watch nature at its best.image

  • Thank you for your reply.

    Having tried googling plants to use it's so confusing as a total complete begginer like me.

    So many plant groups, species and sub species to choose from.

    Buddleia is one i have in mind but is there a specific Buddleia that better than others. Thought about a service tree, a Mountain Ash but again which one is best?. Thought about catoneasters but again sooooo many to choose from!

    Friends and family say get this get that but which one's the right one to get.

    Some service trees loose there berries to the birds real fast, some trees appear not to be so popular but loose there berries to the birds over the winter eventually whilst other trees keep there berries because the birds don't want them for some reason and yet to me they all look the same and they are all supposed to be "Good for the Birds".

    The garden centres just want to sell you a tree, doesn't matter which one and there'll tell you its good for the birds even if its not to get a sale, that's my experience thus far.

  • Matty2Matty2 Posts: 4,817

    Just remember you have a fairly small patch and a buddleiea and more trees could use up your sun. There is a Buddleiea Buzz that is a small growing one (Thompson & Morgan) but do watch your heights. Perrennials are good, sow a wild flower area, , give the birds shrubs toperch on when they come to your feeder. Plan/research before you plant. The Expert series by Dr Hessayon especially on shrubs - there are 2 - will also guide you to wildlife friendly plants . Useful if you Know very little and not too expensive to buy.

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 26,974

    Hawthorn is always a favourite here. Cotoneasters are taken later but that may be cos they ripen later. Rowan always seems to be taken before it looks ready but I suppose the birds know what they like.

    The ordinary purple/pink etc Buddleias davidii is excellent, other species may well be but I can't confirm that. There's a biennial, eryngium giganteum, the bees love it. a pic below, just sling seed around or buy one and let it seed for future years. It's a bit prickly, don't put it beside where you sit. Shows up well in the evening light.


     Most single, as opposed to the highly bred double, flowers are good for insects.

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • Since late June already had..........

    Holly Blue, Common Blue, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Orange Tip, Painted Lady, Comma and Peacock butterflies. Several Dragonflies and a few unidentified darters

    Fox, Grey Squirel, Hedgehog, Mice and Stoat.

    Common Frog and Adder, one inside the house!

    Pipistrel bat.

    All the more common birds and cattle egret, common and arctic terns over head, artic skua over, merlin in the garden, common redstart, firecrest (Not Goldcrest) and brambling.

    Starling and house sparrows nesting in the roof this summer.

  • Gracie5Gracie5 Posts: 125

    The plant list can be endless but this link might be helpful.  Just to add that butterflies and bees have a preference for blue coloured flowers.

  • During the winter I suggest you read No Nettles Required: The Reassuring Truth About Wildlife Gardening by Ken Thompson; a very accessible, reassuring book with a scientific basis but a totally readable style, and in my opinion one of the best books about gardening for wildlife you could hope for.  Last spring I planted a flowering meadow of annuals, grasses and clover intended for polllinators, very much inspired by Sarah Raven, and it was lovely; but you know, there were at least as many bees, butterflies, hoverflies and other insects visiting my perennial flowers and herbs such as borage, that had been planted primarily for my own enjoyment.  The only big rule is 'thou shalt not kill' : i.e. no insecticides, foster your tolerance of some minor damage if needs be - and then if you build it (garden), they wild things) will come!  (Actually - on second thoughts - kill slugs if you must, but not with poison).


  • Try snowdrops, this year our mass of snowdrops was covered in bees on a warm sunny day. They use snowrops for their first feed of the year. Growing snowdrops from the green gets better results, can be started off in the house. good luck and happy gardening.


  • Thank you to everybody for your replies and advice.


    I think i'm a little late to put snowdrops in this year now as my local garden centres have all run out. Something to do next September / October now.

    Thought about this short list in the spring this nexty year along with the purchase of a Rowan Tree.

    Origanum Vulgare Bowles's Mauve Verbena Bonariensis Lavandula Aagustifolia Buddleja Davidii Hedera Hibernica   A pond to dig over the winter with "No Fish", a couple of bird boxes and a box for Tawny Owls in the Sycamore tree, too late now for this year but if i can get it up over this winter it's in place and weathered for there breeding season next year.   Thank you Sarah for your recomended book, i'll see if i can find a copy and get one over the next few days.
  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 26,974

    Sounds good to me.

    Plant snowdrops in the green in spring. They don't like being dried out and sold in packets.


    In the sticks near Peterborough
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