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Going wild in the garden

01:00 Mon 22nd Jan 2001 |

By Tom Gard

IF your idea of attracting wildlife into the garden is slapping a bird table in the middle of the lawn and watching the local cat population lick their lips, it's time to think again.


Until recently, many thought� of�'wildlife gardening' as an excuse to do nothing, let the weeds and brambles take over and annoy the hell out of the garden-proud neighbours next door, all in the name of nature.


But times are changing. Gardeners are increasingly realising�that they can have an attractive formal garden and encourage a wealth of welcome and colourful visitors to it. And you don't have to live in the middle of the countryside to do so. Even the smallest city plot can become a wildlife haven.


A well thought out planting scheme helps nature regulate itself, cutting down on the need for pesticides and herbicides and helping the organically-minded vegetable gardener.


An English summer garden wouldn't be complete without a riot of brightly-coloured butterflies and bees feasting on the flowers
.�Both are not just attractive to look at, but invaluable for pollinating flowers.�To keep them coming back�try traditional plants such as angelica, comfrey and feverfew, as well as lavenders, sedums, nepeta (Catmint) and perovskia (Russian Sage). Ladybirds, who like nothing better than feasting on old enemies like blackfly and greenfly, will also find many of these to their liking.


If you have got a bit of space to spare, what about creating your very own wildflower meadow Mixes of native wildflower seeds are now available from specialist such as Really Wildflowers (www.reallywildflowers.co.uk) or Naturescape (www.naturescape.co.uk). Seeds scattered in spring return a swath of colour and graceful grasses that sway in the breeze come summer.

Birds are always welcome in the garden and are particularly keen on red and orange berries, which you can provide by planting cotoneaster, pyracantha, crab apple and berberis. If you do have a bird table, locate it near a tree so that birds can hop from the safety of a branch to the food and back again.


Water is another magnet for wildlife. Anyone who has seen Charlie Dimmock in action will know you can dig, line and fill a small pond in a day. If your lucky, it will not only provide insects and birds with somewhere to quench their thirst, but also attract frogs and toads, the best natural predators of slugs and snails in the business.
If you haven't got room for a pond there are plenty of pump-regulated water features available at garden centres.

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