Photo: Greater stitchwort
I am fortunate i live in a town with lots of green and a large variety of trees and shrubs. It was actually one of the reasons i bought this house. The joy of riding your bicycle and see the first catkins of the goat willows, the majestic oaks, the woodpeckers in the trees and find that beautiful blue jay feather.
When i bought this house i became more fascinated with biodiversity and wanted to explore the possibilities of encouraging more wildlife into my garden but i thought this was simply impossible in an average garden. Fortunately this is not the case and by planting the right shrubs, flowers and trees we can do a lot to attract wildlife. I am in the process of helping wildlife and biodiversity by providing lots of vegetation such as wild flowers and native shrubs which are important for wildlife. I have planted a hedge and got rid of the very old forsythia hedges. The new hedge consists of several species predominantly hawthorn but also purging buck thorn, spindle, holly, European fly honeysuckle, hazel, elder, sweet briar, barberry, guelder rose, wild privet and alder buck thorns. Underneath the hedge, you can find several plant species such as greater stitchwort (see photo), red campion, wild basil, chicory, bugle, raspberry and beauties such as the columbine, meadow crane’s bill, and primroses. Some plants i have not grown before so it will also be trial and error. The idea is to attract as much biodiversity in the garden and particularly provide pollen and nectar all year around for the numerous bee species that visit the garden.
I am not the person to tidy up the garden constantly. The leaf litter formed by all the shrubs provides a place to hunt for several insects and for amphibians. Wrens and dunnocks are also regular visitors. . The birds will eat the pupa of the small white if they can (see photo). Last but not least, a dense hedge offers nesting birds some protection from curious cats. Hedgerows are very important and great to attract more wildlife. In due course, a good hedge will be teeming with life.
Of all the shrubs, hawthorns are one of my favorite. I have several in my garden. They provide both shelter and food for birds and insects. Many moth species use hawthorns as a host plant such as the mottled umber, gypsy moth, brown scallop. A study revealed that more than 200 species of insects and mites feed on hawthorns. They in turn attract many birds. Apart from birds and insects, hawthorns are also important for some gilled mushrooms such as the Shield Pinkgill (Entoloma clypeatum) and Bell Morel (Verpa Conica). The caterpillar of the small moth grapholita janthinana feeds on the berries of hawthorns and believe it or not, there is even a gall midge that loves hawthorns: the hawthorn button-top gall.
The flowers of hawthorns provide food for many insects such as honey bees, bumble bees, butterflies, mining bees and mason bees. Planting several hawthorns together make foraging for bees more efficient and will result in lots and lots of berries. The berries provide food for many birds and it is a joy to see them feeding and with a bit of luck you may get some unexpected guests such as the wonderful field fare.
I simply see my work as a very small and modest contribution to help preserve biodiversity.