Another lovely guest post, this time from Joanne who blogs at Charlie Moos. Joanne and her son Charlie have an amazing and award winning time with the creatures in their garden, here they share their top tips to encourage wildlife in your garden.
Encourage Wildlife in Your Garden
Before we moved nearly 2 years ago (where does the time go!) we had a communal garden meaning we had to be mindful of our neighbours. However once we had our own garden Charlie could not wait to put his own stamp on it. His main objective was to encourage nature, explore the natural wildlife and spend time watching and learning from the safety and privacy of our garden.
After just a year Charlie’s efforts were rewarded not only by nature but the garden met the criteria for a Dorset Wildlife Plaque for being a wildlife friendly garden. Being wildlife friendly doesn’t have to be difficult, to be honest Charlie and nature deal with most things! Best of all is it takes hardly any cash outlay as you can recycle what’s around you, it’s great for feeding the children’s imagination.
Bird Friendly :
Charlie loves bird spotting, many RSPB books adorn his bookshelf. He even keeps a tally in his notebook of birds he’s spotted. Encouraging birds is probably the easiest, all you need are a couple of feeders and a variety of food. We have 3 feeders we fill with seeds, nuts and fat balls each food attracts a different type of bird, for example nuts are a favourite of nuthatches who feed upside down, smaller birds and most variety of tits enjoy the fat balls and some even get inside the feeder.
Wood pigeons (they have a hooked beak and are lighter in colour unlike the smelly London pigeons) are lazy and pick up the seeds which have fallen on the floor. We planted a post into a bush hung our feeders from there to deter our cat from climbing in the trees and chasing birds. You can also make your own bird feeders using lard and fir cones (although this is better in the Winter when the lard doesn’t melt! *cough obviously I’ve never been silly enough to try this cough*) Don’t forget they need water too so a bird bath is a must, top up regularly, keep clean and break the ice in the Winter, the birds will thank you.
Bird boxes are also a great way to introduce birds into your garden, it can take a while they seem to prefer weathered boxes to shiny new ones. We made a couple of nest boxes from milk cartons and sticks (you can see the full tutorial on Wayfair) which are not only easy to make but a great rainy day activity.
Our beach hut bird boxes had their first visitors this summer, we loved listening to the chicks and trying to watch out for mummy/daddy bird so we could determine what breed they were. Charlie built a hide and spent ages waiting. I think next year we will invest in an endoscopic camera so we can take a sneaky peek!
Frogs and toads :
If anyone had told me 10 years ago that one of the highlights of being a parent would be the sheer joy, heart melting moment would be when your child discovers frogs living in his make shift pond I’d have laughed in your face. Being a parent does strange things to your emotions.
Last summer Charlie buried an old washing up bowl into the flower bed filled it with rocks and water. Bar going a bit green and being smelly nothing much happened, until this Summer when I decided to PUT MY HANDS IN and clean out the leaves that had settled to the bottom. Yes I screamed a lot when I pulled out a frog! My screams were met by the faces of two other frogs wondering what the heck was happening.
Daddy Moo added a pond iris for decoration and we regularly top it up with fresh water. The frogs seem to cope well with the pokes and prods from Olive and I’ve my fingers crossed we have frog spawn next summer. The pond is located near where we sit and toast marshmallows it’s slightly disconcerting the way the frogs stare at you from the pond whilst you’re eating!
Bugs and mini beasts:
Charlie has quite a few bug kids, microscopes, books and specimen pots meaning bug hunting is a must. In our old house we had a lovely invertebrate hotel made from a massive wooden wine rack and odds we found out and about. In our new garden we have a ready made one and Charlie is working on a project to build one.
The beauty of a bug hotel is that you can literally can use anything from old pallets to wine racks to hammering some bits of wood together. Anything that has a stacked shape, with a hole in that you can place items into, such as rocks, moss, shells, broken pottery and bamboo. Charlie likes to rehome bugs in ours in the hope they stay and live. If you don’t want to have a bug hotel long term but fancy a spot of bug hunting there are some great tips on my blog : 6 tips for encouraging bugs into your garden.
Flowers don’t just look pretty but they also attract a plethora of insects, bees, butterflies and caterpillars. Wild flowers and lavender work well, we have a large buddleja (otherwise known as the butterfly bush) which butterflies love, one even landed on my mum whilst she was drinking her coffee. If you don’t have any flower beds then use plant pots, remember you can recycle pretty much anything old wellie boots, car tyres, plastic containers, china teacups,buckets, as long as you add drainage holes and some small stones so they don’t get water logged. *Pinterest is a great resource for garden ideas*
I could go on and on as finding ways to encourage wildlife in your garden is one of my all time favourite topics and pastimes with Charlie, there is nothing better than watching and helping him to develop our wildlife friendly garden. I hope these ideas have inspired you to start encouraging some British birds, bees and frogs into your garden.
Image credits – 1 Shutterstock, colourful nesting boxes, 2,3,4 Joanne Dewberry.