There are hundreds of plants to choose from but if you want to attract wildlife to your garden you should choose native species which are more suited to your local climate. By choosing from a wide variety of native plants, you will increase the number of different wildlife species which will be attracted to your garden and, as well as being aesthetically pleasing to look at, it will give birds, insects and small mammals food and shelter all year round. Plants with berries, fruits and seeds will attract birds and those with nectar and pollen will also attract butterflies, bees and other types of insects. And, you shouldn’t be put off if you only have a small garden or even if you don’t have a garden at all – even a small window box will attract some form of wildlife which will benefit from it being there.
The Importance of Variety
The whole ethos of having a wildlife garden is to create the right environment to produce insects, seeds and fruits which birds and other small creatures can eat. Therefore, you should try to incorporate evergreens, wildflowers, garden plants, annuals and fruit bearing plants into a structured habitat that will create a regular ‘year-round’ food supply. A mix of native plants of numerous shapes and sizes which require shelter, light and shade makes for a good combination. To attract a wider variety of bird species, you need to take into account the feeding habits of the different species. Take the tit family, for example. Great tits look for food in the lower part of shrubs whilst blue tits can be found higher up in the canopy of trees. Then again, blackbirds prefer to feed on the ground. As for shelter, dense bushes which can be evergreen or deciduous, clematis and honeysuckle often provide shelter to various species of birds.
Whilst we’d often associate wildlife with wild, unkempt woodland, you don’t need to replicate this in your garden and, whilst you shouldn’t be too worried about keeping your garden perfectly pristine, regular pruning is encouraged. However, when considering garden and plant maintenance, it’s important to also consider the wildlife that’s living there. For example, letting flowering plants die off naturally and then tidying up later is better because if you cut them back too soon, the birds can’t use the seeds.
Choosing Plants for Their Purpose
Whilst attractive and vibrant colours and fragrance are at the forefront of most people’s minds when it comes to choosing plants, if you want to attract wildlife to your garden, here are a few more common plants you could have which provide nectar and seeds and the types of creatures which will be attracted to them.
- Dog rose – finches enjoy their hips
- Primrose – when they flower in spring, they produce nectar and finches are attracted to their seeds
- Marigold – nectar for insects and a good choice if combined with a vegetable patch
- Lavender – smells great and bees love the flowers, finches love the seeds
- Honeysuckle – another great fragrance, both birds and insects are drawn to the nectar and berries are an additional food source for birds and small mammals
- Michaelmas Daisy – their flowers attract butterflies
- Ivy – its flowers provide nectar for insects and berries for the birds and it also offers good shelter
Therefore, with a little thought and careful planning, you can not only have a garden that looks and smells beautiful but one which attracts wildlife too.