Kids love wildlife – and there’s not much to beat having your own private nature reserve right outside your back door – but there’s more to making your garden wildlife friendly than simply leaving an undisturbed area and hanging out a feeder for the birds.
So, how wildlife friendly is your garden? Take our quick amateur naturalist’s quiz and you’ll soon see how much of a wildlife haven you’re really offering.
Does Your Garden Have Any Nesting Boxes?
(a) Yes, we put a couple up last year.
(b) Yes, we’ve got a collection of different types – and a couple of bat boxes too.
(c) No – it wouldn’t be fair; there are just too many cats in the neighbourhood!
And What About A Bee House?
(a) No, but it’s on the list of things to get.
(b) Oh yes, we’ve got bee-logs and bumble-bee houses.
(c) You are kidding me, right? Everyone knows bees live in hives – I mean, who’d give a bee a mortgage to buy a house?
Which Description Best Fits Your Pond?
(a) Quite small, but we do try to keep it in reasonable condition.
(b) We built it with wildlife in mind.
(c) A fish pond, first and foremost; what’s the point of a pond without some good big fish?
How Do You Choose Which Flowers You Grow?
(a) The kids love colourful flowers and I like nice scents.
(b) We’ve got a really good wildlife gardening book – we look them up in that.
(c) Principally by the price tag!
How Would You Describe The Planting Scheme?
(a) I leave it to the kids themselves – so the colours clash a bit!
(b) Carefully arranged to give a succession of nectar rich flowers over the year.
(c) What planting scheme?
How Do You Deal With Autumn Leaves?
(a) We don’t really do much with them – we don’t have that many trees.
(b) We rake them up, shred them and add them to our compost heap.
(c) We rake them up into a big pile and then have a good old bonfire later in the year.
Do You Regularly Feed The Birds In Winter?
(a) Yes, mostly with bread and kitchen scraps.
(b) Yes, I always buy proper wild-bird seed, nuts and fat-balls for the kids to put out.
(c) Not regularly – we put out a few bits when we remember.
Your garden makes a pretty good home for wildlife. There are probably a few things you could do to improve things, but on the whole it sounds as if you’ve probably struck the right balance between the needs of native flora and fauna and your own family – and that’s no easy trick in itself!
You’ve really done your best to turn your garden into a regular wildlife heaven, never mind haven. Put the kettle on – you should be expecting Bill Oddie and a camera crew to turn up at any moment! It’s great that you’ve taken so much trouble to get things right and if your kids don’t end up running one of Africa’s game parks or making films for National Geographic when they grow up, it won’t be for lack of encouragement. Just try not to lose sight of the fact that there are other aspects to a kids garden too.
Wildlife doesn’t seem to play the dominant role in your version of a garden at the moment – but that’s not a problem; if you do decide that you want to encourage a few more wild visitors, there are plenty of ways you can go about it. The important thing is that you and your kids enjoy doing what you’re doing – and see how things develop. That’s half the fun of gardening, anyway.