It’s Wild About Gardens Week, and we’re celebrating with a series of blogs looking at different aspects of wildlife gardening. This one is from Jasmine, one of our Hedgehog Improvement Area volunteers. Jasmine is going to be writing a series of gardening blogs for us sharing her passion both for her garden and for what lives in it.
Hello, my name is Jasmine and I am one of the Hedgehog Improvement Area volunteers for Warwickshire Wildlife Trust. A great way to help and see wildlife such as hedgehogs is through wildlife gardening, so I am going to write a few blogs on the subject to share the fun of attracting wildlife to your garden!
In the past, gardens were an essential resource for people where they could produce food to feed their families. Nowadays, most people buy food from the local shop and gardens are more of a refuge from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Most excitingly, it is not only us that use our gardens as a refuge, but also wildlife. Farmland is increasingly inhospitable under intensive farming methods and cities are encroaching ever more into the British countryside. These two factors are placing pressure on wildlife and forcing them to hastily adapt to the changes we are making.
Take hedgehogs as a perfect example of a species caught in the middle of this situation. We know that hedgehogs have been living in Britain for at least 9000 years, remaining as a rather primitive mammal and doing marvellously well, that is until the late 1960’s. Hedgehog populations have been decreasing steadily since this time, and have declined by approximately 40% just over the past decade! This decline is believed to be due to a combination of factors, including removal of hedgerows and permanent grassland (their preferred home) due to intensive farming methods.
It seems the humble hedgehog has been unable to adapt to such rapidly changing circumstances created by humans, despite remaining unchanged as a species for millions of years. They have made a good go of it though. Hedgehogs have made our surburban areas their own and taken advantage of our mosaic of gardens in place of widespread sprawling hedgerows and grassland of the past. Hedgehogs are rarely found in rural areas now, an observation being currently investigated by the PTES through their National Hedgehog Survey, which you can find information about here.
It is not only the hedgehog that uses gardens as an important resource but a whole variety of animals such as invertebrates and songbirds. Bees visit our garden flowers for nectar after discovering their favourite meadow has been ploughed over for crop production. Robins have made their home in our gardens after finding that the hedgerows and woodland that they previously lived in began to slowly disappear, a similar story to the hedgehog.
A lot of wildlife has shown a remarkable amount of adaptivity to the changes that people have made to the countryside but they are ‘not out of the woods’ so to speak and need us to meet them halfway! Gardening on any scale with wildlife in mind is a great way to do this; you can provide homes, food and water, and the wildlife will undoubtedly come and take advantage of this much needed helping hand.
There is a huge amount of information out there to help you on your way to creating a wildlife friendly garden. Start by looking on Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s own website, with projects such as building a bug hotel. There is also a website dedicated to wildlife gardening, created by the RHS and the Wildlife Trusts, packed with useful information; it is called Wild About Gardens and can be found here: http://www.wildaboutgardens.org.uk/index.aspx
Get creating your very own nature reserve!!