Wildlife watch in May.


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We are entering our fourth summer season on our land and it is fascinating to see how a balance is starting to form with all the plants, fungi, microorganisms and animals working together. The first couple of years we had thousands and thousands of slugs but now our newt and frog population has grown so much, the slugs are much less in numbers.

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Attracting wildlife.


You need an organic garden to attract a wide range of wildlife. But you also need wildlife to create an organic garden. We do not think one can exist without the other.

wildlife  pond

We have been living on our plot of land for almost three years now. When we first moved in we only made the house liveable, and concentrated most of our efforts on the garden. Our land was encircled by a huge thick laylandii hedge that blocked out all light and did nothing to support wildlife. We cut it down and replaced it with espaliered apple trees, oak and beech hedging and a lot of mixed trees and shrubs. It was a very important first step in attracting wildlife and we used the trunks for structures in the garden and all the smaller branches for mulch on paths and planting areas.

red oak

One of the first things we did was create a big wildlife friendly pond. We are very happy this year as at least one hundred young newts are living in it now, along with dragonfly-nymphs, water-beetles, frogs, toads and whirligig-beetles. On one side the pond has a pebbled beach, for easy access in and out of the water and on the other side it has a bog-garden filled with moisture loving flowers and plants where frogs and toads like to hop around. The pond has been dug right next to an old stone wall and it is a great place for many creatures to hide or hibernate.

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wildlife newt

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pond wall

As every gardener knows, to successfully grow vegetables and flowers or just about anything, you need to avoid too many slugs, snails, greenfly and red spider mites, to name but a few. We do not wish to use any chemicals in our garden so the natural way to deal with these so called pests, is to attract as much beneficial wildlife as possible. We grow a lot of flowers and shrubs that pollinating insects like and when they are drawn to our garden because of the flowers, they also pollinate our crops. We encourage bats and birds by putting up nest boxes and feeding them all year around.


wildlife september flowers

Perennial fennel is lovely for culinary purposes and our plant is so big that there is more than enough for us as well as the birds who eat the seeds all through winter. We also grow teasels, a plant much loved by gold and bull finches. This year we had a big area that had been covered by old thatch from a roof so nothing was growing there. In the spring we threw out a lot of flax seed from the health food shop along with some phacelia seeds across the space and a few months later we had a beautiful haven for pollinating insects.

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wildlife september teasel

flax and phacelia

We cannot imagine our garden without wildlife, there are all the practical benefits but also so much beauty to admire and enjoy. We love looking at newts and beetles swimming in the pond and birds nesting and eating in the garden. Not to mention the very special time our bats scooped over the pond in total silent one summers night and the only proof they were drinking, were the slight ripples in the moonlit surface of the pond.

Building a wild life pond.

FA pond adds beauty, biodiversity and a great feeling of tranquillity to any garden. We always knew we wanted one. Our work commenced in the spring of 2013, with digging. It is good to site a pond away from trees as the leaves will fall into it, fouling the water. We made the mistake and had to cut down an Ash tree. It was sad but we have planted a couple of hundred trees now so we have somewhat made up for the damage caused.Some shade is good at least for part of the day. It is also good to make the pond as large as possible as it will help in creating a clear healthy environment. For a wildlife pond you need at least one side of it to be a gentle slope, where wildlife can have easy access in and out of the water. It is also good to have some different shelves and levels under the water for plants and animals.

Digging the pond.

Digging the pond 2

The pond-liner we used is made from Polyex and comes from Bradshaws Direct in the UK. When used with an underlay it is guaranteed for 35 years. We also wanted a bog garden and you can see it here in this photo, as the lighter shallower part.

Pondliner in place

To prevent the soil in the bog garden part from entering the pond we built a small stone wall, separating the two. We filled the bog garden part with a mix of moss peat, manure, compost and garden soil and planted it up with water-loving marginal plants. We built up the edges under the liner all the way around the pond and bog garden with small stones and soil to give it an even edge. It is important to check your levels before you start digging as the ground needs to be relatively flat for the water to stay in. We then covered the edge of the liner with a small stone wall and in one part a pebbled beach, great for small creatures and larger ones too, like hedgehogs, coming for a drink.

Bog garden planted up.

We filled the pond in June 2013 partly with water from a stream in our garden and partly with rain water. It was to late for frogs, toads and newts to spawn that year but some of them moved in to the area surrounding the pond.

summer 2013

In 2014 we had hundreds of little frogs hatching as well as a good number of newts. We hope they will be a great help in keeping the number of snails and slugs in the garden under control. Water beetles, whirligig beetles and many other creatures now inhabit our pond and it is a very beautiful place to sit and observe all the wild life. The first picture below is from Winter 2014 and the following from Summer 2014. You can see how much these plants love having their roots in water. 

winter 2014

summer 2014

summer 2014 2