• Something to drive your bees WILD

    I'm a real sucker for 'finding' a wildlife-friendly plant that I haven't encountered before. And this week's 'discovery' was courtesy of that most magnificent of gardens - the RHS's Wisley, in Surrey.

    The plant was just a single clump in the little walled garden, and the Honeybees were overcome with excitement.

    Here it is for those that like the game of identifying the plant before…

    • 29 Aug 2011
  • The wild side of local government

    Much of my day job at the moment is spent in the offices of organisations other than the RSPB and in particular the County Hall of West Sussex County Council.

    As I arrive, I pass by the manicured lawns and rose beds that front the building, and head into whatever meeting I'm attending that day. But the bit I love the most is a rather tucked away corner, outside and around the back.

    What the Council has done is abandon…

    • 26 Aug 2011
  • Don't be a mophead!

    If there is one plant that is dominating front gardens everywhere where I live right now, it's the hydrangea. And I have to admit it is not one of my favourites.

    It's not dense enough or thorny to give birds somewhere to shelter; it's leaves don't appear tasty to insects, so there's little value there; and most of all the flowers seem so unattractive to insects.

    The reason is quite simple. The giant…

    • 22 Aug 2011
  • Giving out the right kind of signal to wildlife

    In my RSPB day job, I spend a considerable amount of time on trains. And station platforms.

    This week I found myself on Pulborough platform with 10 minutes to spare before my journey home. Perfect, because away down the end of the platform I had noticed that the signal box was a riot of colour.

    Isn't that fantastic! Here works someone who loves plants!

    Now I'm not saying that this is the best planting scheme…

    • 19 Aug 2011
  • The yellow-socked wood-borer

    In my woodland garden, I line the paths with logs - it defines the route, uses up spare logs, and of course my hope is that it provides another micro-habitat for wildlife too.

    As bits of bark have flaked off, it has been clear that at the very least I've been providing a home for lots of woodlice. And in autumn I tend to get fungi popping up around them. Oh, and the local cat population sharpen their claws on them.…

    • 15 Aug 2011
  • The RSPB opens its garden gates...

    In the history of the RSPB and its involvement with garden wildlife, 11 August 2011 is going to go down as perhaps its most momentous day.

    The growth of Big Garden Birdwatch to over half a million participants pushes it very close, but the launch of our very first dedicated public wildlife garden – well, to a gardener like me, that’s massive news!

    It is Flatford Wildlife Garden, right in the heart of…

    • 12 Aug 2011
  • Stepping close up for nature!

    I love it when people find wildlife inspiration in their own back gardens, so I was delighted when, on the back of my article in this latest edition of RSPB ‘Birds’ magazine, this appeared in my Inbox from Jade Smith.

    For anyone who has been waiting for me to show photos of garden wildlife taken away from the soft south, this you’ll be pleased to know that Jade took this wonderful photo in her garden…

    • 8 Aug 2011
  • You know you need a bigger bath when...

    ...you find this sat in it.

    Excuse the reflections in the photo - that comes of peering around the conservatory door trying not to alarm the Wood Pigeon while it's undergoing its ablutions.

    Birdbaths come into their own at this time of year. In hot, dry spells, they offer a drink as well as a chance to clean up dusty feathers and parasite-ridden skin. I love the way each of the pigeon's feathers is raised and…

    • 5 Aug 2011
  • All that glitters is not Silver-washed

    I'm normally at pains to emphasise that your gardening for wildlife must be targeted on those species that are likely to visit your garden.

    This may seem like the most obvious thing ever, but there are books out there that seem to indicate that if you only do 'x' then 'y' will come. "Plant Buckthorn or Alder Buckthorn and you'll get Brimstone butterflies". Not if you live north of Yorkshire you won't. "Put up nestboxes…

    • 1 Aug 2011