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Carefully sculpted and landscaped gardens certainly can be beautiful things to behold, especially on a warm summer’s day when the light catches all its’ features just right, but without a busy wildlife scene they can sometimes seem a little empty and soulless.
A surprising number of animals considered to be British wildlife are currently under threat due to disease, pollution and the destruction of their natural habitat, making garden’s all over the UK lose their buzz, energy and colour.
Here’s just a few things you can do to bring some summer bounce back to your garden oasis, centred around your pond…
Flowers with High Nectar and Pollen levels
This is often the first step in creating a summer wildlife garden – adding endemic flowers to the boarder of your pond that produce high levels of nectar and pollen has many advantages.
Nectar is used by flowers to encourage pollinators like bees to land on and take their pollen from plant to plant (their way of reproducing). The bees love it, and honey bees especially make use of both the nectar and the pollen, making honey and wax for their nests, and so planting some of these flowers helps keep the bee population going as well as just brightening up your garden with big splashes of colour.
Bees really need our help at the moment too. Bee populations in the UK, Europe and in the US have been devastated in recent years due to a lethal combination of fungal and viral diseases, along with rising levels of pollution and habitat destruction. By planting plenty of flowers you can help them, by at least providing them with plenty of food.
You can encourage more bees by setting up small bee houses for small colonies to develop in, just take a look online at makeshift bee homes.
Once you have bees visiting your garden, it helps not only to give your garden back its’ natural buzz, but encourages other animals to visit too. Certain birds and insects feed on bees and are therefore more likely to frequent your garden, adding birdsong to the mix as well as some of the more beautiful type of dragonfly that may use your pond as a base for larvae. Adding bird-boxes and feeders will help too.
Now that you have the food source for your ecosystem set up, you need to supply the wildlife with the other most important ingredient for life. Water.
A pond is obviously one of the most natural looking sources you can hope for, becoming a home not just for your fish but for frogs and toads too. The bees, butterflies and other colourful flying insects will now have a place to get their water even if it hasn’t rained for a few days. You can read up on pond setup online and there are a number of cheaper and more affordable ways to create a summer oasis than ever before.
You can add floating surfaces to help with your pond’s wildlife too. Consider some floating pond lilies, either real of artificial to give your insects and frogs something to rest on, and boarder vegetation around your pond can help provide a hiding place for a variety of larvae and creepy crawlies.
Variety is the spice of life, and you might want to think about the different micro-environments you have in your garden to promote different types of fauna. While your pond more than likely won’t want plenty of light on it (which increases algae growth), other parts of your garden might need more, particularly plant beds which need the light to photosynthesis. Consider giving some of the bigger trees or shrubs in your garden a summer cut-back to increase the light on those parts of the garden that need it, creating thicker ground-level vegetation to become a habitat for insects and animals. Don’t forget to leave some areas of shade too though, promoting a few moist and mossy areas.
All in all, its about thinking natural rather than micromanaging every plant and shrub. Think about providing environments for smaller insects and animals and the rest will follow.