Promoting wildlife, reducing carbon footprints and becoming “biodiversity positive” are all part of RHS’ ongoing planet-friendly gardening campaign.
“We have a ‘positive biodiversity’ goal by 2025, reversing habitat destruction in parks and community green spaces across the country, protecting and improving conditions for pollinators and other wildlife and promoting cultivated plant diversity and conservation for the future,” says the charity’s new chief ecologist. Gemma Golding.
Golding will design and lead ecological surveys in the five RHS parks, creating data on wildlife and developing recommendations for increasing biodiversity in parks across the UK.
Here’s a closer look at how gardeners can get inspired…
Reverse habitat destruction
Disposing of peat, making your own compost and turning your fence into a green screen or green wall can all play their part.
“I look at how ecology and the environment can sit together in a mix of habitats and how the ecosystem works, when wildlife and other nature start to move in. An example would be to have a pond. Instead of looking at an individual of a species, if you improve the system the entire ecosystem, that’s when wildlife is most attracted,” says Golding.
“If you don’t have a pond, you might have room for an aviary or small water area, grow some wild animals on your balcony, or try to think of ways to make an environment suitable for wildlife,” she adds.
New infrastructures often have green roofs, which can also help enhance habitat and gardeners can get involved in this, she suggests.
Undated flyer photo of a garden pond. See PA Feature Gardening Nature. Image credit should read: Alamy/PA. Warning: This image should only be used to accompany PA Feature Gardening Nature.
Choose plants wisely
“It’s about mixing native and non-native populations,” says Golding, “with different types of winter berries like holly to prolong the period when a certain type of bird has food, for example, and it’s worth considering what types of trees and shrubs will benefit wildlife and biodiversity.” “.
Plant a tree in your community, school, workplace, or home to pull carbon out of the air, including perennials to help provide food and shelter for wildlife and help stop declines in bees, butterflies, moths, and other pollinators by growing plants that will attract them.
Helping threatened species
Birds on the Red List of the UK’s leading bird conservation and monitoring organizations include the Martin’s house and goldfinch. But there are things gardeners can do to help stop this decline.
“Some of that is due to disease being spread through bird feeders — so encouraging people to not only take out the food but think about how they can maintain and clean their bird feeders regularly, and the same with bird baths, is something people can do,” Golding explains. .
“Bats are losing their habitat. Older buildings may have more holes and natural crevices that can be inhabited. Newer buildings often look perfect with fewer holes, so bat boxes are useful,” Golding says.
“The right habitat is green spaces and linear features in parks and gardens, or a hardy wild habitat next to railroad tracks and rivers. In terms of flowers, growers can plant specimens with nocturnal-scented flowers to encourage prey.”
Help other threatened creatures
“Hedgehogs are big, big-crested newts are losing their breeding grounds as our pools diminish, and other birds including rafters have decreased,” Golding says.
Other threatened species found in RHS Gardens include the nuthatch in the RHS Garden Rosemoor, the stag beetle in the RHS Garden Wisley, the lesser redpoll in the RHS Garden Harlow Carr, the thrush in the RHS Garden Bridgewater, and the Cardier bumblebee in the RHS Garden Hyde Hall.
Undated flyer photo of a hedgehog entering a garden from under a hedge. See PA Feature Gardening Nature. Image credit should read: Alamy/PA. Warning: This image should only be used to accompany PA Feature Gardening Nature.
I noticed that the parks connection was overlooked. If properties provide continuous green spaces, or add plantings or other features that will give wildlife more scope, biodiversity will help.
“You may have a lot of green space and gardens may be nested in each other. You could have trees that birds use as landing nurseries. If you have larger trees and hedges in your garden, you are more likely to have birds nesting in them. This connective green habitat is no less The importance of having one good garden,” she explains.
“This goes all the way up to ground level, too. You have passages for the hedgehogs, with gaps in the fences to let them through.”
For people in cities, climbing walls such as ivy, which are present for most of the year, may take up less space than hedges and potentially provide a catchment area for wildlife.
More research is needed
Surveys of bees, bats and invertebrates by ecologists are scheduled for the next year, to understand what species we have, reproduction patterns, rare species and supportive habitats, while others encourage people to be more aware of their surroundings. Some of the terrestrial animals Golding will examine in surveys are amphibians, butterflies, breeding birds, bumblebees, and other terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates.
These groups are a good representative of the sites’ overall biodiversity levels, she says, and can help determine the health of habitats. The data collected will show trends and how actions in the parks are improving wildlife numbers.
For more information see rhs.org.uk/gardening-for-the-environment