The key to a successful wildlife garden is diversity. That's lots of different habitats, natural features and planting areas inspired by the British countryside and recreated in miniature on your plot. In fact, the ponds, trees, bloom-filled borders, lawns, hedges and more that we traditionally bring to our gardens, condensed down from the wild, is the reason they’re such important places for wildlife conservation, and why you often see a wide variety of species in one place. They’re the supermarkets, the one-stop corner shops of the natural world.
But if you really want to narrow that down even further, there’s such a thing as an all-in-one solution to help boost your garden wildlife, and that is to plant a tree. Small or large, trees offer lots of valuable assets to many different animals. Birds, mammals and insects take advantage of their food in leaves, flowers and fruit, shelter in its branches and bark, use them for nesting sites, shading, safety nets and green highways.
On a larger environmental scale, all trees absorb carbon dioxide, which is causing global warming. Therefore, by popping a tree onto your plot now you’re not only helping animals, but you’re also tackling climate change! You can’t really get more ecoconscious than that.
And your tree doesn’t have to be big; there are some wonderful small trees to suit any plot. My cherry is quite a few years old now and it hasn’t grown larger than about 2.1m (7ft) and 1.2m (4ft) wide. I don’t know what the variety is but it’s the perfect size for my small front garden. Try ‘Kikushidare-zakura' or ‘Amanogawa’ if you’re looking for similar. Amelanchier, crab apples, rowans, arbutus, hollies or hawthorns work a treat, too. No garden's too small for a tree!