From street herbs to mini wildflower meadows. Creating wildlife habitats in NW3. Why it matters?

From street herbs to mini wildflower meadows.  Creating wildlife habitats in NW3. Why it matters?

From street herbs to mini wildflower meadows.

Creating wildlife habitats in NW3. Why it matters?

 

We have all heard the stats by now, that bees - which pollinate one in three mouthfuls of our nosh, are in decline; that over 95% of UK wildlife meadows have been destroyed as a result of intensive modern farming (DEFRA). How the UK has lost 44 millions birds since 1966 (equiv to the current adult population in England & Wales!) including 60% of house sparrows - of particular concern as they’re one of the few species that thrive in the city (RSPB). Not forgetting to mention the ongoing deterioration of suitable butterfly habitat: butterflies not only being totally beautiful, but of value for their importance as an indicator of the general health of the environment around us.

 

So the question is what can we do about it here in NW3?

 

Of butterflies and bees is a new social enterprise set up by a mix of local Transition Belsize bods, and RHS trained gardeners, who are on a mission to green our hood. We think that every garden in London; every window ledge pot of herbs; clump of native wildflowers on the doorstep, links into a complex neighbourhood habitat network, providing an important part of the food chain and vital pollinator corridors. We say out with the herbaceous border and in with the pollinator border!

 

It’s easy and inexpensive to create a wildlife area, offering limitless habitat opportunities for everything from the smallest bug upwards and encouraging diversity even into the smallest space!

We’d be happy to either offer you some free advice and resources for turning your outside space, no matter how large or small, into a mini wildlife habitat, or come and design/maintain the area for you. Our gardens will be enjoyed by both you and your friendly local wildlife, without compromising aesthetics or practicalities.

 

Here’s a final bit of science – it has been shown that as little as three minutes in a wildlife garden delivers measurable stress relief!

 

Convinced? Here are some tips to get you going:

 

1. For early Spring nectar to attract solitary bees, plant Winter Aconite, Lesser Celandine, Lungwort. For Summer nectar how about the beautiful purple Anise Hyssop, Marjoram, Liatris Spicita, Red Campion. In Autumn bees love Sedums and Verbena Bonariensis.

 

2.When planning a garden to attract butterflies, think too about food plants for caterpillars and plan a year round food source. By planting Primroses, Sweet Rocket,  Thyme or Michaelmas Daisies you are providing opps for butterflies to feed for over half the year..

 

3. Even grass can have structure: short or long filled with drifts of beneficial grassland species. How about an aromatic mint lawn? A lawn filled with Clovers and Birds Foot Trefoil. Grasshoppers and meadow butterflies, crickets and skippers love long grass!

 

4. Water is especially important. Even the smallest pond is great for invertebrates and amphibians. We recently built a wildlife tank in an old wheelbarrow! You can visit it at The Fruitery, one of Transition Belsize’s food growing sites.

 

5. Don’t forget the value of dead wood in Winter. A perfect nesting site for many species. Leave leaf litter to float above your Snowdrops and Hellebores during Winter, it’s the equivalent of an insect duvet!

 

6. Birds love Devils Bit Scabious, Buckthorn and Teasels. Hoverflies love Bronze Fennel. Ladybirds love Yarrow. Echinacea and Rudbeckias are loved by early Autumnal pollinators, Sedum’s seedheads are later enjoyed by finches. 

 

We also run food growing clubs at Camden schools, and talking of food, Feb is the time to start chit those potatoes (yes, we did say chit) and pop in those broad beans which enjoy a good frost. Check in for our weekly food growing tips.

 

Come n meet us at Parliament hill farmers market on Saturday March 9th 10-2pm where we will be running a kids free lettuce seed sowing stall, or at our nettle soup/pesto making workshop at the city farm on Sunday March 24th.