Study reveals we're a 'nation of wildlife gardeners'

Study reveals we're a 'nation of wildlife gardeners'

Posted 2nd Jul 2018

Research has been commissioned to find out what gardeners are doing to help wildlife and the creatures that are visiting our gardens

The survey, conducted to celebrate Countryfile's 30th Anniversary Garden at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, found gardeners are very much aware of the importance of their outside space for wildlife.

In fact, 77 per cent of those who have a garden have actively done something as they look to attract more wildlife into their outdoor are. For people who have had a garden for over three years, this rises to 79 per cent.

There was also some particularly encouraging news as it emerged that 40 per cent of people have planted wildlife friendly plants in their garden, while over a third (37 per cent) grew plants for bees and butterflies, along with other precious pollinators.

The wildlife we mainly see in our gardens are:

- Birds (83 per cent)

- Bees (66 per cent)

- Snails (47 per cent)

- Butterflies (46 per cent)

- Squirrels (28 per cent)

The wildlife we see the least of in our garden are:

- Moles (two per cent)

- Deer (one per cent)

- Badgers (one per cent)

- Snakes (one per cent)

- Weasels / stoats (0 per cent)

A third of people believe the levels of wildlife visiting their gardens in the last three years have not changed. However, 42 per cent have never seen a hedgehog, while 45 per cent have never seen a bat in our gardens. 37 per cent have not seen a frog, toad or newt.

Worryingly, despite being one of the most common types of wildlife seen in gardens, 48 per cent of people who had a garden for over three years believed butterfly numbers have decreased.

RHS Chief Horticulturist, Guy Barter, says: "We’re no longer a nation of gardeners, we’re a nation of wildlife gardeners! These results show that supporting wildlife in our outside spaces is really important to many of us."

"However the results suggest that some areas need more attention as only about one in ten of us (11%) has built a pond which is extremely beneficial to wildlife, especially when the weather is warm as they make gardens cooler and provide water for thirsty animals."

 "Surprisingly twice as many people reported quite advanced wildlife friendly measures, such as leaving decaying wood (22%), nearly the same as those who put out bird boxes (28%) or made a compost heap (25%)."

"It’s great to see nearly half of people with a garden are proactively planting for wildlife.  One of the biggest problems for pollinators like bees is a lack of flowering plants, which is why in 2011 we launched our Plants for Pollinators logo to encourage gardeners to grow more of them."

Guy continues: "Whilst some gardeners probably don’t mind that we’re not seeing some wildlife like moles and deer in our gardens, there is much we can do in our outside spaces to attract and support creatures like hedgehogs, frogs, toads, newts and bats."

The RHS recommends creating a hole in your fence so hedgehogs can forage between territories without a problem. Another tip is to leave log piles - this provides a safe site for breeding or hibernating, while creating a compost heap is another good move, as this makes the ideal nesting site and food with lots of insects.

To encourage more frogs, toads and newts, ponds will be vital; if you want to attract bats, night scented flowers, ponds and reducing artificial light will all help to create your own garden haven.

The RHS are offering the following top tips to support wildlife:

1 Choose the right flowers with pollen and nectar for bees, butterflies and other insect pollinators.

2 Grow a mixture of plant types which include trees, shrubs and annuals.

3 Add water - ideally a pond, but a container of water will suffice.

4 Look after mature trees.

5 Leave a pile of dead wood in a shady spot.

6 Use compost – lots and lots of compost.

7 Provide food and water for birds all year long.

8 Allow a patch of grass to grow longer.

9 Garden sustainably to protect wildlife.

10 Avoid using pesticides and accept some plant damage.

Image courtesy of RHS / Tim Sandall

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