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I too am in my fifties and am the only person on our street (and probably the estate) who gardens for wildlife. I don't feel it's too difficult as all of the plants are perennials which either self seed or I collect the seed and plant them in pots. The lawns get smaller as the borders get wider and most of the small back garden is now a pond. At work, I can't believe that the people in their 20s just don't understand why we need any insects, let alone bees. Why would I want frogs in the garden? Why do I spend hours pond watching? Why feed the birds or have a bee house? Perhaps primary schools ought to reintroduce nature walks and nature tables. Then again, my kids are in their 20s and think the pond is the best thing have ever done and they too will have one if they can ever afford a house with a garden.
I did have a chat with a local garden fencer about the lack of access his concrete fence bases allow for hedgehogs and frogs etc. He was laughing, because a man had asked him to leave a gap for hedgehogs and he (the fencer) thought it was a joke!! But a lot of gardens are practically hermetically sealed these days.
hollie hock

Ever an optimist I think slowly the tide is turning and everyone is slowly waking up.

On a garden scheme I visted this year the local primary school was one of the gardens featured Got shown round by one of the pupils

This is my first garden, the majority of my plants are here because they attract wildlife

Tracey Oakley

I'm all for encouraging Wildlife into our garden. Nest boxes, Bird table/ feeders , Bird Bath, log Pile , a patch of nettles, bug Hotel and lots of plants to encourage them !


hollie hock, those are your false sunflowers on the pic I posted earlier on this thread. Look good don't they

Well, I have been a wildlife gardener all my life (74).  An elderly neighbour visited me and said jokingly that he thought the gardener who managed my vegetable plot was ok (a few straight lines)  but that I should get rid of the gardener who managed the flower bed!  they were too untidy, and I had nettles! shock horror.  I explained to him that my garden is a cottage/wildlife garden and that I encouraged wildlife to visit and stay with me i.e. my army of frogs and toads who keep the snails and slugs down, the birds who feed on the greenfly.  Also the lovely silvery slow worms who live in my compost bins. This gentleman had been in his time a gardener on a huge estate and had had to garden by strict rules.  He eventually came to appreciate my garden and visited often and even brought me seeds from his  garden for me to grow, hence I now have a beautiful patch of Angels Fishing Rods. I couldn't think of any other way to garden, so try to spread the word. 


hollie hock

hi nut, think i saw the false sunflowers, really pleased they gave you a show, the bees and butterflies adore them

Got some toads here but don't see them for ages but once in a while I spot them, saw one in the flower beds a few months ago. There are slow worms here as well, earlier on this year, rescued quite a few.....they were brought home very much alive by the cats. Not seen a hedgehog though, but do have gaps under the fence just in case


Not many frogs and toads here but plenty of newts. They probably ate all the frog and toad spawn til there were none left. 

Total access for hedehogs but none turned up.

Yes, really impressed with the false sunflower hollie hock. I'll probably move it for next year, I just put it where there was a space but I like the real insect attracters near the front where I can admire the plants and the visitors

Urban Wildlife

I like a wildlife garden as some of you may guess by my forum name, that said in my view a lot can be done in a 'formal' garden as really it is all about growing the right plants and not using chemical pesticides. OK so my form of wildlife gardening at home is not the purist view but it works for me.

I am also a member of the Residents and Tenants assoc and soon to be a meber of our local park Friends Group. Luckily within our immediate area on the estate we have some quite large areas of wooded area and open ground. The R&TA is very environmetally active creating wildlife habitat the spaces, also the plan for the park is to restore the formal gardens but also to carry out large amounts of wildlife friendly improvements across the open informal spaces of the park.

For me this bodes well for the future as there is a big drive to involve the local young people to help carry out this work and learn to maintain their wildlife spaces.


Jim Macd

You almost exactly described me... will get back later no time left.

I've really got into wildlife gardening this year, partly spurred on by a miserable crop of veg despite the lovely summer and put that down to lack of pollinating insects. My kids and I built a bug hotel last weekend with hedgehog boxes and a frog/toad hibernaculum and already its populated with lady birds, frogs and toads and the odd beetle!

I invested a lot of time in the summer on the net finding out about the right sort of plants and am filling the beds and pots with those as well as dedicating a few areas of the garden to wildflowers and there comes with it a huge sense of satisfaction that although to some I may appear completely nuts, to me we're doing our bit, not only to enjoy seeing wildlife in our garden but that we're helping it's future!

Wildlife gardening is so rewarding and some of the above comments about guerilla gardening has made me want to now move onto the verges near me but I fear they would be destroyed by the councils mowers come spring  

you might find the council more sympathetic than you think. In London Fields in Hackney they have planted up an area as a "wildflower meadow" (think more Olympic Park style pictorial meadow than rampant weeds). It's been absolutely beautiful, and there is a lovely scent too. Very popular with the locals. Full of bees (and Mums taking pictures of their kids amongst the blooms)

Thanks Gingly for the vote of confidence!  I'm going take it up with the parish council first, see what they say and go from there! 


Jim Macd

Oh, Lordie, just saw the words Guerrilla Gardening. That's all very well and good if you are acting responsibly. I'll give you an example the fills me with horror every time I walk past. About a mile up the road some very well meaning person had decided to 'brighten up' the water trough area. They are planted primulas, foxgloves, and all manner of other dainty things. The none-native dainties, I can almost live with but the garden variety natives drive me crazy. It's really important not to pollute what natives are already in your area with what is usually foreign plants bread for vigour, colour and pest and disease resistance. The last thing you want in a wildlife garden is pest resistant and vigour could well mean upsetting the delicate balance of an ecosystem. I'm all for encouraging people to do a little here and a little there in the hope that they enthusiasm will grow but as long as we aren't doing more harm than good. If I could go back in time one thing I'd do is, well, two things. Shoot those Cheshire grey squirrels before they escaped and give the guy who introduced Spanish Bluebells a good talking to before he did it.  Oh,  dear, I really didn't want to rant. 

Jim Macd
John Hamish wrote (see)

hiya..just seen your original email from last year re Chris Baines 'Bluetits and Bumblebees'' and I totally agree. We saw this programme shortly after we were married and have adopted that approach every since.

Unfortunately I never saw the programme but was lucky enough to be told about his work by one of my Lecturers at college, I bought his book and hot his pamphlets and learned every every suggestion by heart and was later the conservation advisor for Hounslow Council. I think the title was more of a political thing at the time but that was 1985 I suppose. 


Jim Macd

One thing my garden sadly lacks is a pond. I brought my dogs up to love water, living by the Thames they'd get a swim every day, they still love swimming an plodging in puddles. I used to stay at a friends in Ham, Surrey during the summer while they were in the France, my dogs were never out of their pond. By the way, though the garden in Ham was by no means a wildlife garden they had a huge 'compost' heap. I use the inverted commas because I don't think it was ever turned but still it had plenty of frogs and toads around it. I don't have a compost heap either, not because I'm lazy but the lasst thing I want in my garden is nutrients going back into the soil. A wildflower garden should be iimpoverished. When we first moved in here I obediently started one and it was home to lots of bugs and even a wasp nest but I sudenly realised I had nowhere to use the compost. Now I have so much packed into the garden I don't want to spare any room for it. I do have a very large log pile and hybernaculum plus a couple of filled in ponds that the frogs like to hybernate in under some rocks I put there over the winter. 

Jim. Agree with a few things.  Auntie E sounds lovely doesn't she?  Too young to be my auntie as I'm a decade younger.    Still an oldie tho!  There you are girls you got my age.  But I'm like Peter pan I'm told so I'm very young indeed.

Those Spanish bluebells, yes they are a awful and the wild primroses as cultivated plants now .....are far superior to those pretty polyanthus .  I do though have a pond, albeit a small one. 

However, I do like my plantsman's garden.....simply a garden with collected plants....even those that are sterile (maybe because they are sterile and dont seed everywhere and flower forever) 

 I need to find a bit more of a compromise though.  Don't want nettles or a "left to be wild " bit.  I get lots of bees, butterflies etc on my agastaches and the like.  I don't really spray too much, use slug pellets very sparingly and, in the growing season not at all, and don't use artificial fertilisers. 

So, I'm getting there.  Ahead of most but behind some! 


I like a bit of all the things I like, the natives, the oddities and unusual plants, meadow, water, trees. But I have room for all those. 

If I had to chose, to fit into a small garden it would be difficult. 

Not sure that wildflowers really need impoverished soil. Wildflowers in grass are overwealmed by the grass in rich soil but in the garden they grow in what they get. Ask any weed

Jim Macd

Hi Nut and Verdun,

I do have to keep telling myself my Wild Garden, should till be a Garden and I think some foreign species really complement the natives, a perfect example is Nasturtiums. I did say i didn't like them but after the show this year I'm warming very much to them and will definitely grow them again next year. I was very surprised by the lack of caterpillars on them though. I remember my mum growing them and they were devastated by caterpillars. I got plenty of black-fly though which the sparrows took great delight in collecting. I would also add I have a tendency to write to myself if you know what I mean so I really hope nobody would ever feel I was being pushy. I strongly believe in letting other make their own decisions about what they grow but if they ask for my opinion I'll give it very freely.

You're right Nut, the wildflowers don't *need* impoverished soil per se, however they will grow far too big and floppy with too good a soil and need staking. The best example in my garden is Chicory. This year is the first year I've been able to allow it to do it's thing. I had given up with it in the winter border. It grew to 7 feet tall and flopped over every year. Same with the Greater Knapweed in the same area which is grass free. I use the word 'free' very loosely. Where as the Gr Knapweed and Chicory in the meadow this year were no taller than three feet and stud up straight right up to mowing time, I even collected seed from the Chicory for the first time. Yeah! It was great to be able to enjoy those lovely blue dandelion type flowers.

I've also bought a thousand crocuses this year and a mixture of blue named varieties too. Just so they look more natural, you understand.
I do draw the line at getting anything non-British that I could get British and anything non-local that I can get local. I did give in and buy some Berkshire ox-eye-daisies though despite them growing everywhere around here. Every year just when I thought I had a chance at getting some seed the council would come along and mow . Thwarted every time. I'd inadvertently brought up seed lurking in pots from London anyway, so I gave in. I even went so far as to buy or give all my neighbours meadow seed for her so I knew she was getting local or British wild seed. She was more than happy to have whatever she got as long as it was free.


Anyway whatever my choices they only will ever be my choices and I would defend anyone's right to make their own, even my neighbour. It's so hard to say it's 'my choice' though, maybe i'm getting too philosophical, take my compost heap. I spent £100.00 on three big ones because 'it's what a responsible gardener does' Now they're just bird boxes. 


Jim Macd

oops that's where that page went to. Sorry I doubled up a post there.