Why should I keep the brambles in my garden? #wildaboutgardens

This week is Wild About Gardens Week, and for 2015 The Wildlife Trusts and the RHS, with the help of Hedgehog Street, have been talking all about hedgehogs and how to make your garden more hedgehog friendly.

As it approaches hibernation season, it’s important that there’s plenty of nesting material about for hedgehogs to make use of, and wild areas for them to hibernate in. Which is why we wanted to talk about the merits of a very particular plant, and one that you’re possibly not all too fond of having in your garden.

Bramble
Bramble

Bramble is brilliant for hedgehogs. Firstly, it retains leaf litter. This means that hedgehogs can easily locate the fallen autumn leaves that they need to make their hibernaculum (place to hibernate) out of.

Bramble holding fallen autumn leaves
Bramble holding fallen autumn leaves

Secondly, the structure of the bramble itself makes it a great place for hedgehogs to nest in. It’s strong and supports the nest, and its thick, spiky nature keeps both predators and the elements at bay.

A hibernaculum needs to survive all of winter’s harshness. With the wind whirling round and rain lashing down a dense thicket of bramble, which protects leaves and other organic matter from degrading, is the ideal place to be. A patch of bramble means the hedgehog in your garden can build a safe and strong home for the winter.

Hedgehogs need all the help they can get to survive the winter - between 30% and 60% will not make it to the spring. Image copyright Tom Marshall.
Hedgehogs need all the help they can get to survive the winter – between 30% and 60% will not make it to the spring. Image copyright Tom Marshall.

The problem of course is that bramble is often not the gardener’s favourite plant. Nor is it much liked in parks and public spaces. As a result, we are losing much of our bramble, and urban hedgehogs are losing a valuable resource. So if you’re hacking away at bramble this autumn, please do spare a thought for the hedgehogs that might be inside, and leave a little patch at the bottom of the garden for them to hide away in.

Find out other ways for you to make your garden hedgehog friendly with our new video:

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