On Saturday June 8th; members of Bothwell Community Garden and Brighter Bothwell were joined by villagers and Forestry Commission Ranger Alasdair Taylor for the ‘Wild In The Woods, Wild in the Garden’ walk in the beautiful environs of the Bothwell Woods.
We were absolutely blessed by the weather, and it was wonderful to see so many new faces, both young and young at heart, coming along to find out how to create a vital slice of woodland in their own gardens.
The walk introduced us to many of the native trees, plants and animals we live alongside; and Alasdair explained how ‘Woodland Edge’ ecosystems are hugely beneficial to wide range of creatures throughout the year; providing animals, insects and birds with sustenance and shelter.
Some of Alasdair’s tips to creating a slice of woodland in your own garden
1. Don’t cut your grass too short. If you must have a pristine lawn, do try and leave at least a small area to grow long and set seed; as grasses are vital to many small birds and provide cover and shelter for many beneficial insects.
2. Sow wildflowers into a patch of your garden, or even in a tub, to attract bees and butterflies; but ensure that the wildflower mix you use contains only those plants native to your area. This ensures that ‘rogue species’ do not start to proliferate and drown out or hybridise with local plant varieties.
3. Don’t be too strict about sweeping up and removing leaf-litter and garden detritus such as old logs. What may look like a mouldy old tree trunk to you is a vibrant ecosystem of creatures and fungi. Try and keep an area in your garden that is just for nature, and let nature do its thing.
4. Try and plant shrubs or small trees such as berberis or rowan to provide vital berries to birds during the Autumn and Winter months.
5. Insect and animal shelters; as well as ‘nesting balls’ full of twigs, hair, feathers etc and hung from trees will attract creatures to make your garden their home. Remember – if you find a nest, even if it is somewhere inconvenient for you, you MUST NOT move it. Please also note that hedges, which are vital nesting spots for many birds, must not be cut between the months of March and August to avoid scaring the birds from their nests. It is an offence, under Section 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, to intentionally take, destroy or damage a nest whilst it is being built or in use (please remember that some wild birds have second clutches, so seeing a first fledge may not be enough), and that includes frightening birds from their eggs or distressing nestlings and fledglings.
For further advice, please contact your local RSPB or the British Trust for Ornithology.
We have received some wonderful feedback about this walk and how informative people found it; and we look forward to our next Wild In The Woods, Wild in Garden event this coming Autumn. We would like to extend our thanks to Alasdair for such a great talk, and to everyone who came along.
(I would also like to say a huge thanks to Marjory for the fantastic photos of the day which are shown here.)
This project is supported by the Forestry Commission Community Seedcorn Trust.