Gardening is an art form. It might seem particularly easy to an outsider – you just stick a few seeds in the ground and water them regularly, right? – but as anyone who has even tried to get their garden full of blooming flowers in the summer will know, it’s far from being something everyone can do with next to no knowledge.
Whilst gardening itself is often misunderstood, what a lot of people don’t value about it – or more accurately, what they don’t value about gardeners – is just what you can achieve when you have the right knowledge.
For example, many vegetable gardeners know that if they plant rosemary next to their carrots, they’ll reduce the risk of carrot flies destroying them. It’s the same with peppermint – plant it next to your cabbages and you shouldn’t have any problems with cabbage moths.
As fantastic as this is when it comes to vegetable gardening, many people don’t realise that with the right knowledge, you can attract a vast array of different birds, insects and animals to your garden, all by simply providing them with the plants that they so often look for.
And it can actually be a lot less complex than most first realise.
Take hedgehogs as an example. Many of us have seen them in our gardens, but did you know that you can attract them by having somewhat of an overgrown or unkempt garden?
Hedgehogs love piles of leaves. They love shrubs that they can hide under and they like long grass that they can feel safe in. And if you can attract their food sources – things like snails and caterpillars – you’ll be almost guaranteed to get a few more hedgehogs visiting at night.
Another great way to attract animals is through the creation of a properly built pond. It might just seem like something to put in your garden for ornamental purposes or to house fish, but think about it – every single animal you can attract to your garden needs water.
If you are considering installing a pond in your garden to attract wildlife, the most important thing you can do is ensure it’s not simply a glorified hole in the ground filled with water. For example, it needs to have shallow steps around the outside to allow for animals to safely access the water (and easily get out of it if they fall in).
It would also be a good idea to place it away from the main area of the garden. Whilst it can be tempting to put it right where everyone could see it, if it’s in a regularly maintained part of the garden, you not only instantly reduce the likelihood of wildlife coming because of the busy-ness of the area, but you also risk damaging the plants and general foliage that helps to attract them in the first place.
Attracting wildlife to your garden is without doubt a real possibility and you simply have to have the right knowledge to know what you need to do to lure them in.
And as great as having a garden full of wildlife is, you must remember that not only do you have to maintain your hard work if you want to see them there regularly, but they could in fact turn out to be more trouble than your ever anticipated (attract badgers to your garden, for example and they could easily eat their way through your entire vegetable patch!).
Need plant advice? Jen Byiers writes for Gardens Galore Edinburgh.