Outside my back door I have my very own nature reserve. It’s about 20 metres by 5 metres and it’s not particularly even. It is lightly managed (I’m not green fingered) and has a mixture of habitats. There are great links to other nature spaces of a similar size and there is a neat wildlife corridor linking a range of mini nature reserves in my neighbourhood.
Yes I’m talking about my back garden. I admit that I’m lucky enough to have one. But it shows me every day that nature literally does start when I open my back door. The kids spend many a happy hour looking for ladybirds, raising tadpoles in a bucket or watching butterflies zig zag across the garden in summer; its our very own little oasis of wildlife.
Gardens are really important places for wildlife, whatever size (think how big an area would be filled if you added all of the gardens in the UK together). You can cram a lot in to quite a small space and you can experiment with different management regimes.
I’d say that our garden is a few levels below re-wilding. There is some structure to it, honest; however I’ve become more inclined to let it finds it way.
At the moment the lawn has a lovely sprinkling of primroses. We didn’t plant any of them, they just found their way by force of nature. The two mini fruit trees are great nectar sources for bees and butterflies as they pass on through and we have lavender and buddleia playing an important supporting role.
The grass is mowed but is far from being a green and pleasant lawn with lovely stripes. It has quite a bit of moss lurking.
Lichens cling to the walls and footpath coming in all shapes and sizes and the shed is a great place for spiders to spin webs and snails to keep out of reach of hungry predators. We get a pretty good number of birds in the garden from jays to goldfinches and the crowd pleasing blackbirds.
Much maligned weeds add a bit of space to the garden, creating a slightly wild feeling.
I like the idea of having an informal and slightly unstructured garden, which is loved but lacks detailed planning. With nature in retreat in many places and the vast majority of us living in towns and cities we all have a responsibility to carefully think about how our gardens, back and front, large or window boxes, can help nature find a home.