The RHS Garden for Wildlife: Wild Woven, at RHS Chatsworth Flower Show, 5-9 June, will demonstrate how the UK’s 24 million gardens can be transformed into a network of nature reserves.
The garden, designed by Sharon Hockenhull, focuses on encouraging once common garden visitors such as hedgehogs, house sparrows and starlings back through native and non-native planting.
Aimed at inspiring visitors to make their gardens more wildlife friendly, Wild Woven will demonstrate lots of different habitats for invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians birds and small animals that can be easily incorporated into gardens of all sizes.
A small pond with marginal planting shelves, sloping pebble bank, nooks and crannies within rocks and a wide range of pond plants will provide one of the most important environments for attracting a diverse range of wildlife. Native and non-native trees and hedges, nectar-rich flowers, wildflower meadow, sedum roof and areas of long grass to help attract a diverse range of creatures. Simple add-on ideas will also appear including bug houses, bird boxes, baths, feeders and compost heap.
A number of trees will feature in the garden including a copse of taller specimens to create some shade in the garden. These will include silver and weeping birch along with Sorbus varieties. A mix of hedging, made up of hawthorn, beech, yew and escallonia, will surround the garden boundary at undulating heights to create a wildlife friendly habitat.
Many of the plants selected for this garden have been chosen for their rich nectar to attract bees, butterflies and other insects and feature on the online RHS Plants for Pollinators Lists. Some of the best pollinator attracting plants will include alliums, foxgloves, salvias, agastache, veronicastrum and chives.
Liz Patterson, RHS Chatsworth Flower Show Manager, said: “We want to inspire visitors to help and support wildlife in our gardens at a time when insects and other creatures are declining. This garden will be a wonderfully interactive way of sharing RHS tips on just how simple it can be to transform gardens into better wildlife havens. Who doesn’t want a garden buzzing with life?
Sometimes just seeing the ideas is all it takes to make some small tweaks at home and a big difference to the environment for wildlife.”
Ahead of the show, Sharon has suggested some of her top wildlife-friendly tips to help people give nature a home at home. She advises the following:
1. Plant pollen and nectar rich plants with a long flowering season like Salvia nemorosa Caradonna. Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’ and Echinacea purpurea. If in doubt look out for the RHS ‘Plants for Pollinators’ symbol.
2. Replace some of your lawn with wildflower seed or turf. This is a great way to reduce your mowing maintenance and will create a different habitat in your garden that will attract a range of insects.
3. Introducing water in the garden, like a sunken water bowl or a small pond, will open up a whole new environment for wildlife. Adding a range of marginal plants in and around the pond will not only attract insects but will provide cover for birds, mammals and amphibians.
4. Log piles are a really simple way to attract a whole host of insects and other invertebrates as well as moss and fungi.
5. A mix of hedging along garden boundaries would offer a wonderful habitat for birds, offering them cover, roosting sites and places to nest. Mixed wildlife hedging has become popular featuring hawthorn, blackthorn, dog rose and bird cherry but equally useful are our traditional hedging plants like yew, beech and hornbeam. For something more unusual try the evergreen escallonias; their nectar-rich flowers will attract a range of pollinators including hoverflies, solitary bees, bumblebees, butterflies and moths.
6. Another option for your lawn is to leave areas to grow long. Long grass will offer shelter and a place for insects to thrive that in turn will provide food for birds and other wildlife.
7. If you have space for a tree and want to attract more birds into your garden then go for one that will provide food and attract insects. Birch, holly, rowan, hawthorn and crab apple will all support a diverse range of insects and fruits/berries in the autumn.
8. Adding bird feeders, nesting boxes, bee houses and insect hotels is another easy way to attract a range of wildlife to your garden. For bird nesting boxes, face between north and east to avoid strong sunlight and the wettest winds. For bee houses position facing south in a sunny position to keep bees warm in the winter months and place near your bee-friendly flowers and shrubs. For insect hotels bear in mind that you will attract different residents depending on where you place your hotel. Some will prefer cool, damp conditions and others like solitary bees will prefer the sunny spots.
9. If you don’t already have a garden compost it is a must have in the wildlife garden. Not only are you doing your own little bit of recycling you will be creating a unique habitat for a whole range of invertebrates [including slugs, snails, earthworms, millipedes, springtails, some beetles] that play a vital role in breaking down organic matter and returning nutrients to the soil. These decomposers in turn will provide a food source for hedgehogs and other wildlife when your compost is ready to spread on your borders.
10. Leave the big garden tidy up till early Spring to safeguard over wintering beneficial insects that will be hibernating on dried leaves and stems.
For more tips and information on how to make your garden wildlife friendly please visit: www.rhs.org.uk
Wild About Gardens
The Wildlife Trusts and the RHS set up Wild About Gardens to celebrate wildlife gardening and to encourage people to act for nature. Over the past 50 years we’ve seen declines in two thirds of the UK’s plant and animal species. Many of our common garden visitors – including hedgehogs, house sparrows and starlings – are increasingly under threat. To discover more about wildlife gardening and creating the perfect pond for you visit us online. You can also sign up to our monthly newsletter or follow us on social media to receive updates and ideas on all things wild about gardens.
wildaboutgardens.org.uk | facebook.com/groups/WildAboutGardens | @WildAbtGardens
The RHS Chatsworth Flower Show will run from 5 – 9 June.
Tickets to RHS Chatsworth Flower Show can be bought at rhs.org.uk/shows