Although most of our garden is on the wild side, it is divided into a few different areas. We have a herb-garden, filled with medicinal and culinary herbs, a small woodland, a kitchen garden for mainly annual vegetables and a large area dedicated to wildlife. We try to include useful plants for ourselves and for wildlife in all of these areas but we believe the wilder part and the small woodland has the biggest benefit for all the animals. We have two ponds with adjacent bog gardens with a large, rather waterlogged area in between. It was covered with creeping buttercup and couch grass up until last spring, and we decided we wanted a more varied habitat so we covered the whole area with a double layer of cardboard boxes and some soil on top and sowed a lot of native wildflower seeds. Unfortunately, as soon as the lovely little seedlings became visible, our army of slugs munched them all up and we re-sowed the area a few times but to no avail. We then decided to go for a slightly different approach and added mints, foxgloves, teasels, lavenders, hollyhocks, mallows, geums and other perennial plants, already at a size too big for the slugs to completely decimate. If you plant mint straight in the garden bear in mind that it will spread vigorously and may out-compete other plants, but we are quite happy for this to happen as the area is very big, and the mint is far more beneficial to us and the wildlife than the couch grass.
Last summer when the native flowers in other parts of the garden flowered and set seed, we kept sprinkling the seeds all across the area and now we have a lot of lovely meadow sweets, ragged robins, red campions and native foxgloves.
We have also added trees such as willows and alders as well as shrubs such as dogwoods and climbing roses. All of this combined has created great habitats for birds, butterflies, newts, frogs, toads, bees, bumblebees and hedgehogs. We have a very old stone wall running along the side of one pond and it is perfect for many creatures to hibernate, or just live in.
We built up rockeries on each side of the big pond and bog garden and they are now home to a variety of plants including London pride, bugle, wild strawberries, Japanese acers, sedums and grasses.
Although the area now contains native and non native plants, we are happy with the result and all the wildlife love it. We always choose single flower varieties if possible as frilly, double, modern varieties tend to be difficult for pollinators to get into.
The next few photos show the area early in the spring last year as well as at the end of the summer. We felt very discouraged at first, when all the seedlings were gobbled up over and over again. Now we can see that the new approach, planting already mature plants and seeding the area in the middle of the summer when the slugs had more food elsewhere really paid off. It has now turned into a low maintenance area that is both beautiful and functional. We keep adding plants from other parts of the garden such as angelica and marsh marigold from our wood land and we are so pleased with the results. A paradise for us as well as wildlife.