I have to confess, bats are a favourite of mine. Sweet little faces and furriness aside, I think they sum up the ultimate garden ideal: a lush, green, healthy space full of beautiful flowers and foliage, teeming with wildlife. Their presence in your garden means you have a verdant, thriving plot – everything a gardener is aiming for. They wouldn’t be in your garden otherwise, so you must be providing all the right things; water (streams, ponds or birdbaths), shelter (densely-planted borders backed by mature tree cover), and food (teems of insects like midges, moths and flies, all attracted to your plants).
If you love sitting out on a summer’s night watching these little mammals swooping after their prey you can always put up a bat box now, like I’m doing, high in the eaves of your home, on a windowless wall or tree in a sunny, warm spot. But there are plenty of other ways to encourage bats. This week I’m sowing night-scented stocks and nicotiana, a joy for us on a summer evening and both with the most exquisite perfume at night to encourage moths – a tasty meal for bats. I’m aiming to let some areas stay a little wild; too neat and tidy and a garden becomes unattractive to any wildlife. Bats love hedges, too – get rid of yours and bats lose their ‘maps’ and ‘service stations’, which they use to feed and guide them around the area.
Our bats are discerning little fellows – remember, a garden that’s perfect for bats is also perfect for us.