Glossary & References / Miscellaneous Documents ListD79 - The British Hedgehog Preservation Society: Creating a Widlife Garden / Text Sections:

REGISTERED CHARITY NUMBER 326885

Know your Hedgehog

Hedgehog Factsheets

 

Creating a Wildlife Garden

The creation of a wildlife garden, or a wildlife area in your garden, will attract a diversity of wild creatures and go some way toward redressing the balance of human interference with nature, which has destroyed so many habitats in the countryside. Also, by helping Hedgehogs, birds, bats, frogs and toads to survive the winter and providing places for them to raise their young, you will be rewarded by their helping to keep garden pests under control.

Your wildlife garden should include several (or all) of the following features:

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 Wood pile:

Hedgehogs might build a nest underneath and, if left undisturbed for some time, algae and mosses will cover it, attracting insects. They will, in turn, be fed on by larger garden creatures. The dark interior may also encourage slow worms (another predator of the slug) to seek shelter. 

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Compost heap:

Birds will feed off the mini-beasts that congregate in a compost heap, as will Hedgehogs and toads who will nest in its centre. A word of warning though before using the compost: test the base and sides gently for sleeping wildlife.

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Hedges instead of fences:

Flowering hedges provide flowers and fruits for wildlife, nesting places for birds and cover for Hedgehogs, voles and shrews. They are also much more attractive than fences. Recommended hedging species: beech, holly (evergreen winter shelter for roosting birds), alder buckthorn, dog rose, hazel, goat willow, hawthorn, berberis.

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Wildflowers & suitable plants:

Flowers provide nectar and pollen to feed insects such as butterflies, hoverflies and bees. Plant wildflowers from seed (it is illegal to remove them from the wild). Wildflower seed packs will probably include: bird's foot trefoil, vetch, hawkweed, wild white clover, bluebell, broom, wild cornflower, hound's tongue, common knapweed, lady's smock and wild 7 marjoram. Recommended garden plants: buddleia (attracts butterflies), scabious, ice plant, michaelmas daisy, phlox, sweet william, marigolds, sunflowers, ornamental grasses, wild irises, pyracantha, snowberry, hostas and cotoneaster.

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Wild corner:

Allow nettles and weeds to take over a corner of your garden. They will provide privacy for small creatures.

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Rockery:

Toads, newts and female frogs usually spend winter on land, under rockery stones (or in a log pile). Recommended rock plants: aubretia, hardy geraniums, ivies, sedums, sempervivum and wild thyme.

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Mini-pond/bog garden:

An area of water attracts a multitude of creatures including frogs, toads, newts, diving beetles, water scorpions and thirsty Hedgehogs. Choose an area away from trees (especially sycamore). One side of the pond should gradually slope to allow Hedgehogs and other small wildlife an exit. Butyl rubber pond liners are recommended. Around at least one third of the pond perimeter include a shelf which should be only 5-6cms below the normal water level. Put stone-free soil on top of the shelf and introduce some native water plants. Recommended water plants: water milfoil, water starwort, miniature water lily, water soldiers. If you don't want a pond, perhaps because of small children, an area of BOG GARDEN will provide an interesting drinking point for wildlife. Line a shallow depression in your chosen site with pond liner, fill two thirds with soil to hold water. Your bog garden could support: meadowsweet, loosestrifes, marsh marigold, ragged robin, cuckoo flower, cotton grass, bog pimpernel, creeping jenny & reeds.

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Hedgehog, bird & bat boxes:

Providing nesting boxes for Hedgehogs, birds and bats might encourage these creatures to reside in your garden, though tenancy cannot be guaranteed! Place bird and bat boxes in trees with cover, but if you have no trees fix them on walls or fences, preferably in the cover of foliage from a climbing plant, and well away from the reach of cats and other predators. Hedgehog boxes should be sited in a quiet spot hidden by ground covering plants. To purchase ready made boxes contact each relevant organisation: Bat Conservation Trust, C/O The Conservation Foundation, 1 Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AR; Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The Lodge, Sandy, Beds, SG19 2DL; British Hedgehog Preservation Society, Hedgehog House, Dhustone, Ludlow, Shropshire, SY8 3PL. Instruction sheets for making your own boxes can also be acquired from these organisations (an sae would be appreciated).

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Bird bath and table:

A bird bath provides birds with somewhere to drink and bathe (feather cleaning is essential) and a bird table holding a variety of foods will attract various of our feathered friends. Peanuts in dispensers are favoured by Blue Tits, Coal Tits and Great Tits, but Green-finches, Nuthatches, Siskins and even Woodpeckers might be seen pecking at the nuts. Seeds and specially purchased bird food sprinkled on the table will attract Finches, Robins, Sparrows and Starlings. Half a coconut provides much needed energy for small birds.

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DO NOT USE pesticides or slug pellets in your wildlife garden or you will kill off species which are links in the food chain. Also, you run the risk of killing those creatures you do not wish to harm, as pesticides tend to be indiscriminate and they, and slug pellets, CAN kill Hedgehogs. If you are overrun with slugs and your resident Hedgehog(s) do not seem to be keeping the numbers down you could try beer traps (dishes of beer placed at the bottom of plants into which the slugs fall or climb) or a 'biological', non-chemical control, comprising parasitic worms. To find out more about this type of slug control and/or stockists, write to suppliers of one called Nemaslug at: Defenders Ltd, FREEPOST, P0 Box 131, Wye, Ashford, Kent, TN25 5BR, or call the customer information line - telephone 01233 813121.

Now, sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour! Spend time in your wildlife garden just looking, and get to know the many and varied creatures that share it with you.

Further Recommended Reading: The Natural Gardening Book by Peter Harper

(Gaia Books Ltd) Creating a Wildlife Garden by Bob & Liz Gibbons Qiamlyn)

The National Trust Book of Wild Flower Gardening by John Stevens (Dorling Kindersley)

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The aims of the Society are:-

a) To encourage and give advice to the public concerning the care of Hedgehogs particularly when injured, sick, treated cruelly, orphaned or in any other danger
b) To encourage children to respect our natural wild-life-by supplying information and giving lectures, and thus fostering an interest in Hedgehogs
c) to fund serious research into behavioural habits of Hedgehogs and to ascertain the best methods of assisting their survival

 

For further information please send an s.a.e to:-

The British Hedgehog Preservation Society,
Hedgehog House,
Dhustone, LUDLOW,
Shropshire, SY8 3PL
Email: bhps@dhustone.fsbusiness.co.uk