Well here's part 2 on ways to give nature a home in your garden. Remember, this comes from a complete novice at gardening - but the information is out there. The internet is full of wonderful ideas - so now that you may have a little more time on your hands - what better time to give some of those ideas a go.
In the first blog we looked at feeders for birds, placement, cleaning tips etc and remember that filling your garden with flowering plants, shrubs and trees will also provide shelter and food in the form of insects, spiders and grubs and a whole host of creepy crawlies. I've even managed to get hold of a few flowering plants myself after admitting to the lack of them in my first blog. Some supermarkets are selling a small selection but look online to see if your local nursery can deliver - great to continue to support local businesses if we can - it's tough on everyone.
So once we've encouraged all these wonderful creatures into our gardens - these too need a bit of care and attention. How about providing a bug house/hotel in your garden. In fact even if you just have a balcony, it is possible to do this on a small scale.
Safe hideaways can be hard for wildlife to find in some gardens - so what better use for your garden waste & odds and ends. They can be a good shelter for small mammals, amphibians and even hedgehogs too if you build this into your design.
You can make your bug house at any time of year but you may find more suitable materials in Autumn.
Here's some ideas for what you can use:
Old pallets and blocks (for the main structure), straw, moss, dry leaves, wood chips, old terracotta pots/tiles, bricks with holes, old logs, bark, pine cones, canes and hollow stems of plants.
You don't have to make a big stack, although there are wonderful examples on line - in fact they can often make a lovely looking garden feature. My kids made these very simple designs at one of our Wild Day Out days at the Avalon Marshes Centre a couple of years ago.
They used some old off cuts of plastic pipe (avoid using small bits of plastic in any design preferably) and simply filled with canes and sticks.
I also bought a really cheap one some time ago. The top was filled with canes but I stacked the bottom part with old bark myself:
Of course you may have a larger space and bigger aspirations, so what can you do?
Planks of wood or pallets stacked on blocks or bricks make a great structure for you to build around, so that's a good start. Find a nice level piece of ground. Your location may favour some species over others. Some will like it damper and darker while others such as solitary bees will prefer sunnier aspects.
Fill the gaps in your planks or pallets with a variety of materials, creating as many nooks and crannies as you can to favour a wide range of species.
Dead wood and loose bark - good for: beetles, centipedes, spiders and woodlice
Hollow stems, bamboo canes, reeds, logs with drilled holes: solitary bees
Larger holes, stones, tiles: Cool and damp - good for frogs and toads (if in the centre could protect from winter frosts)
Dry leaves, sticks, straw: Ladybirds (they eat aphids - happy gardeners), other beetles and bugs
Corrugated cardboard: Good for lacewings (their larvae eat aphids too)
Dry leaves - to mimic a forest floor
Add a roof - make sure the stack is stable first. You could use old planks or tiles or planks.
Adding gritty soil or rubble could encourage seeds from nearby flowering plants (which you have already planted to attract pollinators) could take hold.
You may recall we have a pallet stack in the mini marshes area at the car park of Ham Wall made by the Avalon Marshes Young Wardens group.
Lots to think about: Here's some inspiration from volunteers Carolyn Leader and Carl Haigh who have spent some of their lockdown time creating this lovely bug house from whatever they could find at home - lovely job and thank you for sharing your photo - I'm very impressed:
Looks like they have used all my suggestions here - maybe I should have got them to write my blog for me - experts I'd say.
Of course you could even just make small stacks of logs or cuttings and if you're lucky enough to have space for a compost heap or grass cutting stack look out for snakes and slow works enjoying the heat from your rotting waste.
If you have been creative in your garden for bugs show us your examples - we'd love to see them.
I'll leave it there for now - back on Friday with an update from local sightings from me and volunteers who are sending me their wildlife sightings from their gardens. Thanks for reading and stay safe everyone and follow all the guidance from the government.
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