Gardening for Wildlife – Nick Marshall
Gardening for Wildlife by Nick Marshall
Gardening for Wildlife was the subject of the talk by Nick Marshall at our May 2023 meeting.
Nick’s experience comes from many years working in conservation and ecology so he looks at the issue from an ecologist’s perspective.
Gardens are important because of the major loss of nature areas since 1970. The steepest losses have been in the last 10 years with 15% of species being under threat of extinction. This is why we need to view our gardens as a massive resource for wildlife.
Creating a compost heap is the best way to encourage diversity in the garden as the decaying matter feeds insects, worms and other minibeasts, as well as providing refuge for creatures such as hedgehogs.
Creating a pond provides a wide variety of habitats for a good range of fauna and flora. It doesn’t need to be fancy – and can even be in a Belfast sink. It becomes part of the local ecosystem as creatures move around. Bog gardens can be created in containers too – but remember to water it! It can be a bit hit and miss.
Wildflower meadows contain perennial short grass with clover, daisy and dandelions being the most common – many lawns are like this!
Long grass meadows require more work and is the traditional hay meadow. This encourages taller plants such as ox eye daisies, cranesbill, vetches and field scabious. It should be mown in spring to mid may and then left until mid July. The best grow on less fertile soil. No Mow May!
A shrub garden provides cover over winter. It is best not to do an autumn tidy up until spring as leaf litter gives a place for invertebrates to overwinter. This also creates corridors for creatures to move safely.
In short a tidy garden is not good for wildlife, leave the dandelions, and plant sunflowers.
The competition of three tulip blooms in a vase was won by Denise Kovarovic with some stunning parrot tulips.