As of today, I’ve been living in my new house a week! It’s not the biggest or the most glamorous, but it’s certainly enough to feel like home. There is also a generously sized garden that oozes potential. Currently, the grass is several feet high and tickles the midriffs of the two apple trees, but I’m determined to make it a spot both we and our neighbouring wildlife can enjoy.
Zahrah and I have already had debates over whether the grass should be cut at all. While she favours the truly wild, I prefer neat and tidy with areas that the wildlife can still feel at home in. My plan is to cut the majority of the lawn but leave a wild patch at the bottom, so all kinds of creatures can still seek sanctuary in its grassy depths.
I’ve noticed several species of garden bird already, namely robins (Erithacus rubecula), blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) and great tits (Parus major), but I’m sure we can attract more with a range of bird feeders – millet for dunnocks (Prunella modularis) and finches and sunflower seeds for the tits and hopefully greenfinch (Chloris chloris). As well as this, we could fit some nest boxes to the apple trees to encourage nesting birds to stay.
Now we have such a secure garden, Zahrah suggested setting up a camera trap to see what nocturnal wildlife we play host to. In an urban area, it’s possible we have hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) and maybe red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), something I’d be thrilled to see. After managing to photograph a wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus) at Kingmoor Sidings nature reserve not far from here, I’m optimistic we’ll get to see a lot more once we’ve set some tasty bait.
As for the lawn itself, I’d love to create a winding path out of the stray slabs we’ve found lying around. The garden is large enough for a compost heap too, something else that would attract a range of species. I’d love to cultivate a pond, but feel like this may be beyond my skill set! However, it would be lovely to plant some flowers and inject some colour into the otherwise very green garden. Although not the prettiest, stinging nettles are well known for being excellent attractors of the red admiral (Vanessa atalanta), comma (Polygonia c-album) and small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae). Other good plants for butterflies include garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) and marjoram (Origanum vulgare).
All in all, I see some exciting things on the horizon for our little garden! After living in halls for a year and the only green space being the faded carpet of my room, I can’t wait to unleash my inner gardener and make our patch the perfect wildlife haven.