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  • Pauline Weeks

how to encourage wildlife into your patch whilst staying pretty!

On yet another windy, rainy winter evening, the 43 members of TGC who ventured out to our February meeting were treated to an inspiring talk from Pauline Weeks on the above subject.


Warsash based Pauline spent 26 years as a detective; and after retiring from the police studied and gained qualifications in garden design and advice at Sparsholt College. Pauline now spends her time giving talks on the subject she is clearly passionate about.


Pauline started with the observation ‘We’re all conditioned to keep things nice - this isn’t easy!’


In 2023, £1.8billion was spent on our nation’s gardens - so they’re important to us. Next followed lots of great observations and advice that could inspire us to look after the wildlife around us as well as keep our gardens looking beautiful:


Weeds - try not to use sprays. They’re incredibly toxic as well as being costly, and often kill a lot more than just the weeds. Deal with weeds individually if necessary. Not all ‘weeds’ are invasive or problematic and some are a good addition to a flower bed. Often a so called weed will look pretty as well as attract bees, butterflies and other insects.


Try ‘No-Dig’ - and where you can, avoid digging and double digging. Often there is no need to disturb the soil. The Rhizosphere (the soil area around the roots) should only be disturbed for the addition of organic materials.


Planting - if possible, quarantine plants before planting into beds and where you can, use bare roots and wash them ahead of planting. Try plant layering across flowerbeds to cover the soil and also provide a safe habitat for smaller creatures.


Create wildlife habitats - use specimen planting amongst hard landscaping, part bury broken pots and have planted (and empty) pots around. All of these will create habitats that insects and other wildlife can use.


Other habitats around the garden - untouched corners and places we don’t go to that often are often good habitats. Also, try stacking old wood and creating log piles or build a stumpery - these can look attractive as features as well as being good habitats.


Cater for specific creatures - Hedgehogs: go online at The British Hedgehog Preservation Society and build a box to attract these lovely creatures.

Bumblebees: these often look to nest by flying close to the ground and they love old rodent holes. Leave the holes open for the bees to find. Mining bees: like sunny, untouched spots on the ground. Solitary bees: like a sunny and rigid spot about 1.5metres above ground.

Birds: a University of Sussex study has shown that pesticides have been linked to the decline in the number of birds we’re seeing. Swifts: Swift Nest boxes are available online from Hampshire Swifts. Hoverflies: leave a bucket containing water and a few sticks to attract these.

Dawne Dunton


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