Published: 14 August 2013
Supporting Wildlife in the Garden
The Homebase Garden at the RHS Chelsea Show had a strong emphasis on supporting wildlife. We look at this and how you can make your own garden a haven for nature.
Adam Frost
Having encouraged people to think about wildlife at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this year, the Homebase gold medal-winning garden designer Adam Frost is urging parents to get their children exploring the great outdoors this summer to help reverse the decline of British wildlife.
The State of Nature report, carried out by a coalition of conservation organisations, recently revealed that 60 per cent of British wildlife is in decline. This is at a time when research from Homebase has found that two thirds of British school children want to be taught more about gardening and want to engage with the outdoors. This reinforces the message of the important role that children and their families can play in helping reversing the decline of wildlife. Homebase research further indicates that young people are becoming more enthusiastic for the great outdoors, with the garden as a favourite part of the home.
Adam Frost, designer of The Homebase Garden ‘Sowing the seeds of Change’ at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, said: “It’s fantastic that kids today want to get outside and discover all the amazing things about gardens and wildlife.”
“This summer is the perfect time for children to explore their gardens, and one of the ways they can do this is by learning about wildlife, and how they can encourage birds, insects and other species into the garden, as well as growing their own plants and vegetables.”  

‘Sowing the seeds of Change’ at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

“I wanted the Homebase ‘Sowing the seeds of Change’ garden at Chelsea to get people of all ages excited about their surroundings, and to encourage them to learn about plants and animals in a controlled, fun way, no matter how big or small their garden.”

To raise awareness of garden wildlife, Homebase recently created an app called ‘Hidden Garden’. Available for free in the iTunes App Store, it allows garden lovers to hold their phone in front of their garden, allowing them to see hidden animals, including sparrows, wood pigeons, swifts, common frogs and toads, as well as discover fun wildlife facts about these species. While it’s fun for adults it’s a good educational tool for children too.

To encourage youngsters to get outdoors during the summer, Adam has put together some simple ideas for families on how they can make the ‘HiddenGarden’ app a reality in their own gardens.



Create a planting plan

Mix together plants that are both beneficial to people and wildlife, such as fruits, vegetables and herbs mixed together with shrubs and perennial herbaceous plants, to create an area where there is produce for humans and wildlife. So when it comes to pick your fruit and veg, you can mix with wildlife at the same time. Some recommended plants that attract wildlife are sunflowers, wild strawberries, thyme herbs, and firethorn shrubs which offer nectar and berries to a range of wildlife.


Set up bird feeding and cleaning stations

Birds come to gardens to feed, breed, nest and rest. To make sure your garden is accommodating, you can introduce a bird house, feeding station, or a bird bath - all of these are a must for those avid bird watchers. The water in a bird bath needs to be at least 2.5cm deep, and, like other bird accessories, should be placed in the open away from areas where cats might hide.

Create a wild meadow flower bed

This will help to increase the variety of wildlife in your garden. By sowing a mixture of wildflower and grass seeds to create that meadow effect, you will attract a range of insects, birds, bees and butterflies by providing food and shelter. These are best planted in sunny areas, and you can mix different varieties for a natural look.

Plant some hedges

Plants such as mixed natives create a natural habitat for hedgerow birds, and it is a simple planting activity that all the family can get involved in. These plants grow quickly and depending on how dense you want them, they can be planted in single or double rows.

Store logs

Plenty of wildlife makes its home in dead wood, and other animals use it as a source of food. It is best placed in a small, shady spot so that it remains cool and damp. If moving wood, check beforehand that nothing has made itself at home!

Wildflower planting in a small area
Insect house
Any size of log pile will provide good habitat

Make an insect box or ladybird house

Another way of using spare or dead wood is by creating a small space to attract spiders, bees, lacewings and ladybirds, where they can seek refuge from predators and the cold. Screw together four lengths of wood and fill it with hollow canes. Make sure you place the box in a sheltered area, and on the fence so the insects can find it.

 Create a small pond

All you need is a tub full of water – around 40cm deep - that you can leave standing on a platform in your garden, and then fill it with aquatic plants like Nymphaea pygmaea (Pygmy water lily) and Callitriche verna (Water starwort) which will attract frogs and other amphibians. If using these plants, use aquatic compost which releases nutrients to prevent the water turning green with algae. Always have safety in mind to reduce any risk to children and pets, so keep it shallow and place secure fencing around the pond or metal caging on top. As a finishing touch, try putting plenty of logs and pebbles around the pond to provide access for wildlife.

Customers can also find wildlife-friendly products such as ladybird towers and bee logs in our Chelsea Collection in-store and on

Information supplied by Homebase

Reported by Chris Allen  

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