Gardening for Wildlife

Speaker: Alan Edmondson
24th September

Alan Edmondson

Alan Edmondson


Alan is a highly experienced and talented horticulturist, former National Mastermind of gardening, past president of the National Primula and Auricula Society, award winning conservationist and regular gardening expert on BBC Radio Solent. He founded Bowercot Garden Design in 1999 and is available for planting design and horticultural consultation.

He lectures countrywide on a range of gardening topics and writes a regular gardening column. He illustrated his very professional power point presentation with the slides listed below. Some contemporaneous notes are also added. The final slide showed us what to be aiming for!

Slide Title Comments
1 January –  Feed The Birds Bird table, Fat balls, Sunflower hearts, Peanuts, Think CAT
2 Use a selection of Food Coconut, Fat balls, Peanuts, Mixed seed, Bird cake, Niger seed
3 February – Put up the Nest Boxes Hole nest box, Blue Tit, Coal Tit
4 Open Fronted Nest Boxes Robin, Spotted Flycatcher
5 Special Nest Boxes Treecreeper, Swallow
6 February / March – Garden Pond Poor and Good Examples
7 Dragonflies Broad Bodied Chaser, Southern Hawker, Blue Tailed Damselfly
8 March – Mixed Native Hedge Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Holly, Grey Dagger moth
9 April – Early Butterflies / Nectar Wood Anemone, Hose-in-Horse Cowslip, Small Tortoiseshell
10 Orange tip Butterfly Male & Female, Honesty, Lady’s Smock
11 April / May – Dawn Chorus Chaffinch, Song Thrush, Wren, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Spotted Flycatcher
12 Trees & Shrubs – Caterpillars Guelder Rose, Vapourer moth, Buff Tip moth
13 Wooded Area & Climbers Hop, Hart’s Tongue fern, Male fern
14 June – Native Border Plants Musk Mallow, Jacob’s Ladder, Meadow Geranium, Anthemis tinctoria
15 Native Plants for the Rockery Anemone pulsatilla, Pontentilla ruprestris, Rock Rose, Creeping Thyme
16 Encourage Native Insects Shield Bug, Lacewing, Cicindela Beetle, Weevils
17 Hawk Moths Lime hawk moth, Eyed Hawk moth
18 Hawk Moths Elephant Hawk moth & larva, Humming Bird Hawk moth
19 July – Cut the Flower Meadow Red Fescue, Cocksfoot, Smooth Meadow grass
20 Life of the Meadow Marbled White, Gatekeeper, Cricket, Common Shrew
21 August – Insects in the Garden Bush Cricket, Tachinid Fly, Merodon species, Currant Clearwing,
22 Bog Garden Meadowsweet, Purple Loosestrife, Peacock, Painted Lady
23 August – Garden in Bloom Knautia macedonica, Verbena bonariensis, Poached Egg Plant, Buddleja
24 More Insects to be seen Magpie moth, Earwig, Glow worm larva, Dot moth larva
25 September – Autumn Approaches Goldfinch / Teasel, Sedum spectabile, Sparrow / Rosa rugosa, Ivy
26 October – Food for the Birds Jay, Malus transitoria, Sorbus Hupehensis, Waxwing
27 Winter Tasks – Not Too Tidy Sites for Grass Snakes, Stag Beetles, Longhorn Beetles
28 Take Care Warning!

Alan’s first most important rule was to get rid of any spraying equipment!  He told us if we got the insects right, and birds, beasts and bats will follow. The biggest killer in the garden is THE CAT! The enemy of birds and small mammals.

Nest boxes attract different birds as the hole size is varied. A metal plate around the hole will discourage woodpeckers. He gave us examples of good and bad garden ponds. The depth should be varied and a means for frogs and adventurous (or careless) hedgehogs to get out should be installed. Iris and reeds would attract dragon and damsel flies.

He advised the native hedge should consist of 65% hawthorn as well as holly blackthorn, beech, hornbeam, dog rose and guilder rose. 143 types of insects depend on hawthorn, second only to the oak tree. Trees and shrubs support caterpillars

Nectar rich flowers should be planted for early butterflies emerging in April. A rarity now is the hose-in-hose cowslip. Alan encouraged us to plant native flowers in our borders and rockeries which attract native insects including the Hawk Moths.

Our flower meadow would need cutting down in July after we have observed the insect life dependent on the flowers. Other insects proliferate in August when the garden will be in full bloom. He also recommended plants for a bog garden if we have the space.

As autumn closes in ivy will be in bloom; the autumn food plant of the Holly Blue butterfly which it uses in addition to holly flowers in the spring.

October brings the harvest of berries including crab apples and rowan which provide food for birds.

Alan was keen for us not to tidy up too much in the winter; tree stumps provide sanctuary for stag and long horn beetles. Also beware of grass snakes holed up in the compost. His final slide was a warning was about the cutting back of shrubs, not to let them take over the garden.

An altogether fascinating and insightful talk, well presented and well-illustrated.

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