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28 October 2014

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Create a wildlife haven in your garden
Potter's wildlife garden
Marney's potter's garden at Hampton Court, 2002

Turning your garden into a really special place that attracts wildlife holds many rewards, says expert Marney Hall.

Read on to find out how to get those bees a-buzzing in your backyard!

  see also  

BBC Really Wild
what nature will you spot today?

BBC Gardening everything you ever wanted to know about being a gardener

  internet links  

The National Wildflower Centre

The Wildlife Trust for Cambridgeshire

The Royal Horticultural Society

English Nature

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Marney Hall
Marney Hall

As one of the country's leading experts in the recreation and restoration of natural habitats, Marney Hall's wildlife gardens have attracted wildlife and an armful of prestigious awards.

Marney, who lives in St Ives, has also been described by Country Life magazine as 'a living national treasure'.

She says: "A lot of people think they're not artistic, but if they garden, they are. It's a creative outlet and important to everybody."

Quarryman's butterfly garden
The Quarryman's butterfly garden, designed by Marney in 1998 won the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medal

She admits that she regards gardening as a means of connecting with nature.

For Marney, creating spaces that attract and encourage new species of wildlife are particularly important and rewarding.

She says: "One of my favourite sites was a concrete sugar beet loading bay in Norfolk. It was full of scrapped cars and chemical cans.

quote To be able to convert something that was worthless to wildlife is very rewarding quote
Marney Hall, wildlife gardening expert

"Now, it is now the most amazing wildflower meadow, with something like 22 species of butterfly, with barn owls, bats and tawny owls and loads of lovely birds like spotted flycatchers. To be able to convert something that was worthless to wildlife is very rewarding."

How to attract wildlife to your garden

  • Nesting instincts
    Structure and shelter in your garden, and bushes or hedgerows will make excellent safe nesting sites for birds.

  • Feeding time!
    Put out bird feeders, especially from late autumn to early spring. Give them seeds, specialist bird food, peanuts or fat-balls.

  • Fabulous fruit
    Grow plants that produce lots of fruit, nuts, seeds and berries such as oak, apple and teasel.

  • Rotten stuff
    Leave piles of rotting matter to attract insects, such as wood, fallen fruit and nettles.

  • Long and short
    Keep grass short for birds to forage, and long grass to provide cover for insects and small mammals.
    WIldflower rockery
    keep it wild!

  • Fresh water
    Put some water in a lid or shallow pot for birds to have a bathe.

  • Pond pleasure
    Create a wildlife pond to attract frogs, toads and insects. Make sure you plant water plants around the edges so they can get in and out!

  • Let it grow
    Leave a patch of your garden untouched, perhaps a space behind a shed or garage, where plants can grow wild and small mammals can shelter.

  • Sow the seeds
    Plant wildflower seeds in your borders next summer. Many seed packets offer a variety of flower species that attract butterflies and bees and look beautiful at the same time.

Driftwood garden
A place to relax: Marney's driftwood garden at Hampton Court, 2001.


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