Although I have always enjoyed watching the wildlife that visits our small urban garden, my efforts in terms of deliberately choosing to include particular features for its benefit has, to date, been fairly erratic. Having followed Kate Bradbury on social media for a while, I was keen to get hold of her new book, Wildlife Gardening for everyone and everything. This a short review for the interest of those who would like to find out more about gardening for wildlife.
Before I bought Wildlife Gardening for everyone and everything, I think I already had a reasonable grasp of the basic principles of attracting wildlife to the garden, and indeed dedicated a previous blog to exactly that. As the author says herself, “Wildlife gardening is essentially gardening” because all gardens that have soil and plants will attract wildlife to some extent. However, there are certain things that gardeners can do to make this more likely and to attract a wider range of species, such as:
- Choosing plants with a view to having a long flowering season;
- Choosing plants with simple flowers rather than the more elaborate double flowers;
- Including a pond;
- Providing food for birds;
- Leaving the grass in an area of the lawn to grow long;
- Leaving seed heads to stand through Winter.
Although it is a relatively slim paperback, Wildlife Gardening for everyone and everything, is absolutely packed with information. It takes the broad ideas such as those I have listed above and provides specific detail on what features to include to attract different types of wildlife, and even particular species. The book is arranged into a series of chapters relating to different categories of wildlife including, Pollinators (with sub-sections on Bees, Butterflies and Moths, and Wasps), Beetles, Birds, and Amphibians and Reptiles.
Within each chapter there is then guidance on features and plants which can be incorporated to attract the wildlife in question with a view to providing food, nesting locations or materials and shelter. There are facts about the creatures themselves including information on their lifecycle and on how to identify a handful of key species within each category. There are also step-by-step guides on small projects you might undertake to, for example, make a nesting box for birds, or create a mini-meadow. What I particularly like though is that for each section there are tables listing all the possible ideas for attracting your chosen wildlife and whether they are suitable for different types of garden or outdoor space i.e. Small, medium and large gardens, allotments and Balcony/Patios. This both highlights how any outdoor space, no matter what size, can attract wildlife but also allows you to focus on the aspects which are most relevant to the space that you have available.
Throughout the book the author draws on contemporary research that underpins and contextualises the information included, but also shares her own personal experiences of creating gardens for wildlife and what she has found has worked in practice. The book is published in conjunction with both the RHS and the Wildlife Trusts and I think provides a great resource for understanding the opportunities there are for bringing wildlife into the garden. It reminds me a little of the incredibly handy ‘Expert’ books written by Dr Hessayon which deliver a great range of information in a clear and accessible way. I will certainly be referring regularly to Wildlife Gardening for everyone and everything in an effort to make my own garden into its own little haven.
Wildlife Gardening for everyone and everything, by Kate Bradbury was published by Bloomsbury in April 2019. I bought my copy from Blackwell’s which at the time of writing has it on offer.