If you’re interested in the Kent Wildlife Trust and Sevenoaks Living Landscape, I expect you are already gardening with wildlife in mind. You try to avoid doing harm: you’ve given up slug pellets altogether or only use those based on ferric phosphate in extremis; you won’t use peat to beautify your patch at the expense of fragile habitats elsewhere; you wouldn’t dream of taking plants from the wild.
How you can help wildlife
If you want to be more active in helping garden wildlife, there are wonderful resources on the web from many agencies – some of them with links from this site – which can give you advice.
Or if you prefer, there are excellent books ranging from Chris Baines’ classic How to make a wildlife garden (still in print) to Richard Lewington’s excellent Guide to garden wildlife. These will give you general basic information, but what about your garden in particular? If you enter the KWT Wild About Gardens scheme this year, an advisor will arrange to visit you and talk to you about the your own patch, your own problems, your own triumphs.
We can also find out more for ourselves. Just watch your flowers and shrubs and see which ones attract the most insects (this is a good sitting down job for the summer). LASI, the Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects at Sussex University, has been running research doing exactly this – you can see the results at The Guardian link It isn’t difficult, and while we’re waiting for plant breeders and garden centres to label all their plants with this ‘insect-friendly’ information, we can construct our own lists and act! This, incidentally, is a splendid project for children.
KWT, along with all the other environmental agencies, are stressing the importance of urban and rural gardens in creating wildlife havens and corridors through the county. Your garden could help, and its impact could be crucial. If you want to do even more, here are some ideas:
- Tell your neighbours what you’re doing and why. I’ve run birdwatching sessions for friends and neighbours from their kitchen windows. This encourages beginners to recognise which birds are visiting, what they are feeding on, and what they need from us.
- If you feel more ambitious, you could open your garden to friends and family, neighbours or your church group, WI or club.
- Enter the KWT Wild About Gardens award – we’re closed for entries for 2014 but watch out for information here and on the KWT site next spring. Sandy writes: I entered the KWT WAG not sure how wildlife friendly my garden was, and got a Bronze the first year. The advice I was given helped me to attain a Gold the following year – simple things like adding a pond and leaving a piece of grass to grow long for insects.
- KWT run lots of events and courses about wildlife to aid your understanding and identification. And in September, there are three half day garden workshop (£15) at the Tyland Barn Visitor Centre: Introduction to wildlife gardening, 12 Sept 9.30 -12.30; Dealing with garden pests and diseases without damaging the environment, 19 Sept 9.30 -12.30 and Water for wildlife in even the smallest plot, 26 Sept 9.30 -12.30. (For further details phone 01622 662012)
- Maybe you could persuade your neighbours, or local school or churchyard or allotments to enter the WAG awards as well, and create your own wildlife corridor.
- Join Us. We’re a small, friendly group of activists in the Sevenoaks and Tonbridge area, involved in all these sorts of things. Contact Fidelity for an informal chat (01732 463372 or email@example.com )You don’t need be a wildlife expert. Vicky says: ‘ I have always loved wildlife but never thought I had enough expertise to be of any practical use. But when looking through the KWT website I saw they needed admin volunteers. Now that I give a few hours a month using routine computer skills, I really feel that I am contributing to local conservation.
How we can help you
Come and talk to us at one of our events this summer
On Sunday 1st June, 11am – 1pm, Sandy Renshaw’s tiny award winning wildlife garden will be open from 11am to 1pm. The address is 4 Quincewood Gardens, Tonbridge TN10 3LR. There’ll be advice, refreshments, children’s activities and a plant stall.
- Sunday 8 June is Open Farm Sunday at Romshed farm, Underriver, Sevenoaks, TN15 0SD (from 11 am – 4pm). Lots of wildlife activities (you can get further details from: Romshed Farm
- On Sunday 13 July Commonwork, at Bore Place, Chiddingstone, Edenbridge, TN8 7AR hold their annual open day. Details will be available from Commonwork nearer the time, but SOLL will have a stall there, so do come and chat to us.
- Visit the wonderful KWT wildlife gardens at The Jeffrey Harrison Visitor Centre, Bradbourne Vale Road, Sevenoaks TN13 3DH or Tyland Barn Visitor Centre, Sandling, Maidstone ME14 3BD. Entry is free, plants are well labelled and you’ll come away with ideas galore for insect homes, ponds large and small and activities for your children and grandchildren.
How you can help us
These are just some of our ideas, but why not get in touch and tell us yours? Adrian contacted us to say that ‘Following Sevenoaks Town’s success in the Britain in Bloom competition, Victor Hire Taxis sponsored the refurbishment of the bus station flower bed with nectar and pollen rich plants to support our struggling pollinating insects.’ Adrian is now working with us to see which other spaces in the town might also be transformed for wildlife. Joining the Soll Team Meanwhile, happy gardening!
KWT Wild About Gardens advisor