Last spring we decided to grow wild flowers in our small garden after I read yet another disturbing article on the decline in our eco systems that was affecting wildlife and ultimately us. But there are ways that we can reverse the decline that I think adds to our own family life experiences. I started telling my daughters about the importance of bees, caterpillars (that become butterflies), hedgehogs and birds and moths and everything that lives in our garden.
Here are some of the things I learned from my local woodies garden centre worker and articles that I read. I hope that it might show you how much fun and what a sense of satisfaction you can get from giving mother nature a helping hand.
The first thing is to just sit back and let nature take the driving seat. Learn not to be in control; we’ve got to relax and let go!
Rewilding is all about control – when to apply it and when to give nature free rein. This year, rewilding, where land is returned to natural habitats that provide water, food and shelter to all creatures great and small, is set to be more important than ever, with our renewed focus on the environment post-pandemic.
By rewilding your garden, balcony, or window boxes, you can help native plants and animals, no matter how small the area. The ivy we want to take off a wall is more of a nature reserve than we could possibly imagine. If you have an area of grass, let it grow fairly tall before you cut it to provide shelter for wildlife. Let native flowers self seed on your lawn to provide pollinators with food, in turn attracting birds and other predators to your garden.
Leaving piles of wood and leaves to rot provides habitat for an abundance of invertebrates, fungi, and moss and can provide a sustainable source of compost.
Hang a bird feeder off your balcony
Garden centres will often advertise which species are good for bees, butterflies and other native insects. Providing food for pollinators will attract birds and other predators and create a thriving ecosystem in your backyard. If you live in a flat, fill a window box with insect friendly plants to attract bees and butterflies. Or hang a birdfeeder. Its a great way to help nature and gives you something to look at over a morning coffee as a goldfinch enjoys their breakfast.
A bug motel
Also consider planting fruit bearing trees to attract birds and squirrels. Install a bug hotel where native insects can lay their eggs.
If you’re in an area with hedgehogs, you could also install a hedgehog hut. How cute would it be to have a hedgehog lodger?
A Hegdehog Hotel
We have all heard of the huge decline in butterflies, bees and other insects vital to our eco system. Again, how serene is it to watch butterflies hop across your garden in the summer time?
So these are some steps to rewilding your garden.
1. Let grass go wild Allow flowers to grow in your lawn by letting your grass grow longer and wilder. Buttercups and daisies are so pretty, even dandelions vibrant yellow can sparkle and are a great resource for bees. Put away the mower and let your lawn grow between April and July. If you can’t bear to see your garden look more natural then just allow a section to grow wild.
2. Go native Get as many native plants which grow wild into your garden as you can. Typical plants include daisies, dandelions, foxgloves, bluebells and let the ivy grow!
3. Don’t use pesticides We are putting toxic chemicals all over our gardens Pesticides are designed to kill insects. Is this what we want where we’re sitting having a picnic or playing with our kids. In most cases they’re just not needed.
4. Turn your garden lights off Light pollution is a huge problem for a whole range of wildlife. There has been a huge upswing in LED lights and solar lights which charge up in the day and stay on all night, when you’re not actually using the garden. Try to limit these and keep parts of the garden dark at nighttime.
5. Share your efforts with neighbours Tell the neighbours that you’re not neglecting your lawn, you’re rewilding it. It might even encourage them to do the same. Our kids painted a sign with ladybird and flower pictures on it.