KENT WILDLIFE GARDENING AWARDS
The 2011 Kent Wildlife Gardening Awards is a partnership between Local Authorities across the county, the Royal Horticultural Society and Kent Wildlife Trust.
Entry is free and and open to anyone who gardens in Kent, however large or small their plot and whether they are a business, community group, school, allotment, private garden or even a collection of adjoining gardens.
Kent Wildlife Trust’s volunteer gardening advisers aim to visit as many entries as possible before the end of August. They recommend the gardens for bronze, silver or gold certificates and also give advice. In addition, Gold winners receive one of the trust’s coveted Wild about gardens blue plaques and may be put forward for one of our “special” award for gardens of particular merit.
In February I decided to apply for the award and started to redesign my garden into a Wildlife friendly space.First job on the list was to start on the Pond and I commenced with my son to dig the pond followed by liner,stones & planting.
Now for the preachy bit ! A well-designed and maintained pond is a haven for all sorts of plants, birds and animals. It is a complex habitat full of algae and plants, scavengers, predators, herbivores, decomposers and parasites. Some species spend their whole life in the pond, for instance water snails and small crustaceans, while others use it for only part of their life cycle, such as pond skaters.
A pond provides essential drinking and bathing water for birds and mammals. If you plant a range of plant species around the edge, you’ll encourage an even greater diversity of wildlife.
Habitat & Nesting Boxes
Next stage was to plan where I would put the Log piles as plenty of wildlife makes its home in dead wood, and other animals use it as a source of food. In woodlands, fallen wood occurs naturally and many species have adapted to use this habitat. But in our increasingly tidy countryside, fallen and dead wood is not so common.A pile of logs simulates fallen trees and is considered essential in a wildlife garden. You can usually find somewhere to put a pile of logs, even in the smallest backyard. It is best placed in a shady spot, so that it remains cool and damp.
As well as nesting boxes for a variety of birds,Bees and Bats .
Log pile with holes drilled in for Leafcutter Bees and Invertebrate's
House Sparrow Terrace Nesting Box
Bumble Bee Nester
Blue Tit Nesting/Roosting Box
Bumble Bee Nester which is being used by a Mouse !
I wanted to have as many native species as possible as well as plants that produce food for insects and a habitat,but avoid cramming too much in . A lawn, trees and shrubs, flowers and water are key habitats. I was also looking to create smaller micro habitats within these.
- Long grass provides habitat for egg laying and over wintering of caterpillars and leather jackets. Blackbirds and starlings search for leather jackets (cranefly grubs) in short grass.
- Different species of tree and shrub and flowering plants provide nectar and other food sources through the year.
- Rotational shrub cutting creates different structures and ages of growth, benefiting different wildlife at different times.
- A water feature with different depths is great for wildlife. Shallow areas are used by bathing and drinking birds, emerging dragonflies and somewhere for amphibians to lay eggs. Deeper areas help aquatic insects survive cold spells and are good places to watch newts swimming.
Once I had completed the work and the plants were getting themselves established I contacted the Kent Wildlife Trust’s volunteer gardening advisor to inspect my garden in July and was told I would be contacted in September.
As promised in September I received the letter and was awarded a Silver and collected my Award at the Pines Calyx on the 14th October 2011.
If you have the time and the space its definitely worth the effort as I have noticed a dramatic increase in the Wildlife that visits my garden.
Receiving the Kent Wildlife Trust Silver Gardening Award at The Pines Calyx
Some of the Award Winners from the Thanet Area
Mr & Mrs John McAllister & Myself