You might wonder how much real value your garden has to wildlife in the grand scheme of things. How can such a relatively small space help much? Surely parks, farms, woodlands and meadows are able to do more to encourage an upturn in the fortunes of our birds, mammals and insects?
Well, of course these large areas are pretty important, but you might be surprised to learn that our gardens are proven to be absolutely vital for biodiversity and are quite the allure to many species. All stitched together as a sort of wildlife highway, English gardens make up half a million hectares, and match all our Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in size.
Studies suggest your typical garden can be home to 40 species of birds, five or six mammals and up to six species of amphibian or reptile, not to mention hundreds of species of insects. Maybe not all at once!
Did you know that gardens are more bio-diverse per unit area than rain forests? This makes sense when you consider that gardens have lots of different habitats squeezed into one spot – ponds, beds, trees, grass, rockeries, and a hugely varied array of plant life, artificially put in by us. An echinacea might sit near a foxglove, or a corncockle near a sunflower – we can offer a truly varied menu of interest. Plus our plots have shelter and structures, hiding places and food sources.
Essentially, gardens mimic on a small scale our great variety of natural habitats. They’re actually the main homes now for important animals like stag beetles, house martins and house sparrows, song thrushes, pipistrelle bats and frogs. Your garden needn’t be big, and needn’t be a messy ‘wild’ garden, either – small plots and ordinary, Our tidy gardens are just fine and will draw in mini beast crowds. All this hopefully makes you feel better about your modest plot – I know it does mine!