Designing a garden for wildlife in Withington

Felicity Paris has been transforming her garden in Withington for wildlife for the last five-years. In this blog she shares what she has been up to and how local wildlife has benefitted.

I've been developing my 'wildlife garden' for over five years now and I've been amazed with the wildlife that's using my garden. The first thing I did was to put food and water out for the birds in various feeders.

Bird feeder by Felicity Paris

Bird feeder by Felicity Paris

Round here we've got lots of starlings, goldfinches and house sparrows, as well as lots of other garden birds. Once they discovered the food, there was no stopping them! It's really rewarding to see the birds in my garden throughout the year enjoying the food, (sometimes squabbling over it) and bringing their young to feed. It gives me a real sense of wellbeing; plus, it's entertaining too.

Nest box by Felicity Paris

Nest box by Felicity Paris

I've also put a couple of nest boxes up and for the past two years, a pair of great tits (possibly the same pair), has used the same nest box to raise their young. Seeing the adults bring food to the nest box and hearing the chicks begging for food is one of my favourite things about April/May time and I'm hoping it happens again this year.

Hedgehog hole by Felicity Paris

Hedgehog hole by Felicity Paris

I discovered there were hedgehogs round here a few years ago, so I made a hole in my side gate so they could easily get in out of the garden. The hedgehogs (and cats!) quickly found the gap and one evening, I counted five hedgehogs in my garden at the same time! It's really amazing to know that hedgehogs are in the area and have found a way to survive here, so I want to do as much as I can do to help them increase the population and thrive here. Between April and November time, I also put food out for them and my neighbours and I chat about any sightings. In the future, I'd love to be able to link up my neighbours' gardens by encouraging them to make small holes in their garden fences/gates, so the hedgehogs have really easy access to our gardens. Or - even better - I'd love to see the high fences between our gardens gradually replaced with much more wildlife friendly hedges

my neighbours and I chat about any sightings. In the future, I'd love to be able to link up my neighbours' gardens by encouraging them to make small holes in their garden fences/gates, so the hedgehogs have really easy access to our gardens.

I love gardening and just being in the garden. I've planted up different areas of my small garden with plants that attract pollinators and this has definitely paid off as I've seen all sorts of insects such as bugs, butterflies, moths, beetles, spiders and bees including my neighbour's honey bees. I've got a mixture of native wildflowers as well as cultivated plants that have the 'Perfect for Pollinators' symbol on their labels. I grow plants from seed too and try to only ever use peat-free compost or my own compost from the compost bin (which I got for free from the Council). I don't use pesticides such as slug pellets or sprays in my garden because of the damage they can cause. I've left the very end of the garden to its own devices and let the grass grow long and nettles, ragwort and other so called 'weeds' flower.

I've also got a 'hedgehog' house tucked away at the end of the garden, which hedgehogs have used before. I've planted climbers up my house walls including honeysuckle and ivy, as I'd love birds to nest in these. Plus, the honeysuckle smells amazing at night and attracts all sorts of beautiful moths. I've also got lots of pots at the front and back of the house with various shrubs, flowering herbs and bulbs in them, as well as window boxes which I've put up that I've filled with wildlife friendly perennials (cat mint and ivy). Watching bees visit the cat mint flowers has helped make washing up a much nicer experience!

Garden pond by Felicity Paris

Garden pond by Felicity Paris

In 2017, I decided to create a small pond in my back garden. I'd wanted to attract frogs to my garden for ages. Plus, I'd also read that having a pond is one of the best things you can do for wildlife in your garden. During the first year, I was amazed to see damselflies and water beetles in the pond. Then, in the second year, I found a frog in the pond and was really excited. I'm hoping to enlarge the pond this autumn/winter and have a large shallow area where the birds can bathe.

Wildflower meadow by Felicity Paris

Wildflower meadow by Felicity Paris

The most recent thing I've done for wildlife at my house is the most ambitious project so far - my dad and I dug up a concreted area at the front of my house & created a mini wildflower meadow, using native wildflower seeds. In the first year - 2020 - there was an amazing show of cornfield annuals which me, neighbours and the wildlife enjoyed through the spring and summer. This year, I'm excited to see what's going to happen. 

Want some tips and inspiration to get started on your own wildlife gardening project? Request your free My Wild Garden guide today.