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Create your own Garden Nature Reserve (GNR)

Wildlife Article - February 2023

Lackford Lakes, Minsmere, and Knettishall Heath are well-known large nature reserves in Suffolk that visitors flock to see birds, butterflies, flowers, and mammals. Having these large oases within our landscape is important for the survival of our wildlife but sadly the continual declines in these populations show that these places are just not enough. Government reports have shown that as a nation we need to create ‘Bigger, Better and More Joined Up’ spaces when it comes to wildlife and that’s where GNR’s come in! Because by joining up our better and improved wildlife friendly gardens we can create bigger spaces together for our wildlife to move freely and thrive with in.

To create a ‘better’ wildlife-friendly garden, put yourself in the ‘shoes’ of the animals you want to attract by asking yourself (children love this) questions like, “If I was a hedgehog, how would I get into this garden?” or “If I was a Tree Sparrow, where would I nest” and by looking at your garden in this way you can create the perfect GNR. Below is a short recipe list of what’s needed to create a GNR, but once these features are installed there are lots more things you can do, just use your imagination and think like the wildlife you love!

GNR recipe list:

1. Set aside a wild patch – having a patch at the bottom of your garden or yard that is left alone for insects to shelter over winter, hedgehogs to forage and birds to eat is essential in a GNR

2. Plant flowers for every season, which will benefit bees and other pollinators all year round. Risby Eco Church suggests planting: Spring plants (e.g. Crocus, Pulmonaria, Fruit trees, Bluebell, Rosemary); Early Summer plants (e.g. Comfrey, Delphinium, Foxglove, Honeysuckle, Lavender, Poppy, Sedum, White deadnettle); Late Summer/Autumn plants (e.g. Cornflower, Globe thistle, Ivy, Scabious); Winter plants (e.g. Heather, Mahonia, Viburnum x bodnantense, Strawberry tree, Snowdrop, Winter honeysuckle).

3. Add water – having a pond, whatever size, small or large, is a critical part of a nature reserve. You can make a mini pond out of a kitchen washing up bowl or a plant pot, basically if it can hold water it’s useful to wildlife for drinking or living in.

4. Connect with your neighbours – one of the problems hedgehogs have is that they cannot access all the gardens they need to in order thrive and all it takes is a small 13cm x 13cm hole at the bottom of a fence or garden gate to make it accessible. If we can make a hole/gap with our neighbour’s fence or wall, we can let these animals move freely and easier between our gardens and can therefore join up our mini nature reserves.

5. Erect nest boxes – there are loads of different nesting boxes for our favourite animals, you can make or buy: bat boxes, bird boxes, bee boxes, hedgehog houses etc. and even if your intended creature doesn’t nest in it this year, it doesn’t matter as you can guarantee a spider, or beetle will use it and they are all important in the local ecosystem.

So to make a difference, all it takes is a few ingredients and an active imagination and you could have your very own mini Minsmere on your doorstep!


Wildlife Working Group News

What is Nature Recovery Workshop, Saturday 18th February 2023, 10am to 12pm Risby Village Hall - come and find out about Nature Recovery and what it means to our community and other communities in Suffolk. All welcome.

Hedgehog Campaign – we have been given more Hedgehog Street booklets from the PTES on how we can help hedgehogs in our gardens, if you would like a free booklet please email us.

Mapping Project – we are collaborating with other organisations including Risby Eco Church, to create maps that can help us see where we have wildlife friendly habitats, more information on the development of the project to come in next month’s Stile.

If you would like to join our group please contact:

Blackbird in Our Garden Nature Reserve

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