At the bottom of my garden I have a large border with Leylandii at the back (half dark green, half the golden variety). I know that Leylandii is virtually useless to wildlife, but this hedge is not going anywhere - it provides much valued privacy and we keep it well pruned.
At the moment there are some large shrubs (berberis, hypericum, forsythia, pieris and elder) growing against it which the birds love. For about a foot or so in front of the Leylandii absolutely nothing else grows and then we have a beautiful red peony and usually some hardy annuals growing. This whole border gets a decent amount of morning sun.
In the barren ground at the back we've just let the dead wood build up around the trunks and added some extra dead wood piles. I've no doubt that the mice shelter in here but the wood piles aren't exactly teeming with life - it just isn't breaking down. Do you think we should leave this deadwood jungle alone or try something else? It's very dry and sheltered down there and does get a few hours of sun - maybe a bee hotel?
There's a lot of bare soil underneath the shrubs and trees which we've noticed is attracting birds (mostly blackbirds) who are feeding there. We brought the border forward again last summer, so there will be a lot more planting this year - should we try and keep a decent area of bare soil? Also, is there any point in putting in nest boxes?
We don't want any more big shrubs, because being able to see under the trees gives the effect of a forest floor and extends the garden. We were thinking epimediums, geum 'marmalade' and possibly the red field poppy if it will get enough sun at the front. Would getting a climber to shin up it make the leylandii more appealing to wildlife?
Next door have a hedgehog family living under their son's old tent at the back of the garden which is on a level with our border. They come in to explore this area so is there anything we can do to benefit them? Another hedgehog house perhaps?
The planting scheme we've started is hot (yellow from the hypericum and forsythia, flame colours from the pieris and orange from the berberis). Any more suggestions for wildlife friendly planting? - groundcover is really what's needed.
Any help would be hugely appreciated