Gardens can provide food, cover and nesting sites for birds and other wild animals such as hedgehogs and frogs.
Our garden is in a south-east suburb of Sheffield (53.2°N 1.3°W) and is about 60 feet by 20 feet. There are established native deciduous trees, such as ash, sycamore and willow in neighbouring gardens and ancient woodlands, parkland and the River Sheaf within a half mile or so.
The main features of the garden are:
- Bedding plants
- Shrubs and small trees
- Water garden
The lawn is home to earthworms and other invertebrates, which are the staple diet of many garden birds, including Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Starlings, Robins and
There is one bird table and a feeder tree with various bird feeders hanging from them.
The bedding plants comprise annuals (i.e. live and die within a year), biennials (i.e. flower in their second year), and perennials (i.e. flowers year after year). Insects, such as bees, hoverflies, wasps and butterflies, are attracted to many of these flowering plants.
The plants include Begonia (Begonia semperflorens), Cyclamen, Dianthus, Euonymous, Flowering Maple (Abutilon), Fuschia, Geranium (Pelargonium), Honesty (Lunaria annua), Lobelia, Marigold, Mesembryanthemum, Michaelmas daisy (Aster novi-belgii), Pansy, Polyanthus, Poppy, Primula, Salvia,
Slipper Flower (Calceolaria), Statice, Sweet Pea, Sweet Alyssum (Alyssum), Tagetes and Winter Heather (Erica).
Shrubs & Trees
The shrubs and small trees include the following species:
- Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster horizontalis)
Dense dark green foliage provides homes for spiders which attract Wrens and Tits. In the autumn it has bright red leaves, and bright red berries in the winter, which sparrows and thrushes often eat.
- Golden Bells (Forsythia)
In the spring it is covered in bright yellow flowers, but Bullfinches enjoy eating the buds.
- Holly (Ilex)
Three varieties in the garden: 'J.C. van Tol' which is a self-fertile variety, 'Argentea Marginata' which is variegated, and a self-set native Common Holly (I. aquifolium). They offer a sanctuary to feeding birds from predators like cats and Sparrowhawk.
- Japanese Maple (Acer atropurpureum)
Deciduous tree, about 3 m tall, with purple leaves during summer and autumn. This was struck down by a late harsh frost a few years ago and never recovered.
- Lavender (Lavendula)
Many different lavenders providing different foliages, flowers and scents - all attractive to bees and butterflies, etc. Goldfinches sometimes feed on the seed heads.
- Viburnum (Viburnum opulus 'sterile')
Large deciduous shrub with large white 'pompom' flowers in the summer that attract many insects.
- Photinia (Photinia 'Red Robin')
A tall bushy evergreen shrub with red new growth in the spring. Its dense foliage provides shelter to birds throughout the year and both Blackbirds and Song Thrushes have nested in here.
- Andromeda (Pieris)
The evergreen foliage has bright red new growth in the spring followed by white flowers. Needs frost protection.
There seem to be two varieties in the garden, but they have appeared of their own accord.
- Mexican Orange Blossom (Choisya ternata)
Our variety is 'Sundance' which has golden yellow foliage most of the year. It is sensitive to frost.
- Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii)
'Royal Red' has a purple red flower, 'White Cloud' a white flower, and 'Empire Blue' a lilac blue flower. All attract various butterflies and other insects.
- Virgin's Bower (Clematis)
A number of varieties of these climbing plants, each bearing large flowers during the summer.
- Ivy (Hedera helix)
This climber covers a boundary wall and the Wrens enjoy foraging for insects among the foliage.
- Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum)
Lovely sweet scented flowers in early summertime attract droves of insects, such as hoverflies.
- Privet (Ligustrum vulgare)
This semi-evergreen shrub is planted as a hedge at the bottom of the garden. The dense foliage provides excellent cover, and some birds, such as Dunnocks, have nested in there in the past.
This is first and foremost a formal pool for fish and a wildlife pool second and so lacks the gentle sloping edges that wildlife needs to get in and out easily. This has not stopped frogs from making it their home, however.
A small header pool, which is supplied by water from the main pond by an electric submersible pump (2500 litres/hour), provides the water for a cascade into the main pond, which is about 9 ft x 5ft x 2ft deep and holds about 350 gallons (about 1600 litres) of water. Both pools are fibre glass liners. Water Cress (Nasturtium
aquaticum) is planted in the header pool to act as a natural filter of nitrates, etc., created by the fish.
The main pond is home to two Green Tench and nine common goldfish - the goldfish have been breeding for a few years now and we have 3 "home grown" goldfish. Various other smaller pond animals are present, including pond snails, freshwater shrimp and pond skater.
A fine nylon mesh covers the pond to prevent cats and Grey Herons from killing the fish and young birds (especially Starlings) from falling in the water and drowning.
The plants around the ponds include Hostas, Astilbes and other moisture loving plants. The main pond is planted with marginal plants around the edges, deep marginals and oxygenators:
- Floating Plants
Frogbit (Hydrocharis morsus-ranae)
Fairy Moss (Azolla caroliniana)
- Marginal Plants
Japanese Water Iris (Iris laevigata)
Sweet Flag (Acorus calamus 'variegatus')
Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)
Canadian Pond Weed (Elodea canadensis)
Water Milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum)
Hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum)
Water Crowfoot (Ranunculus peltatus)
The surrounding rockery accommodates snails, slugs and insects, which are eaten by both birds and the frogs. Among the plants on the rockery are Sedum, Christmas Rose, Cyclamen, Ajuga, Sisyrinchium, Crocus and Snowdrop.
21 Feb 2015
Copyright © David Gains 1999-2017.