Wednesday, 3 December 2008

untidiness is good

If I can be honest with you, one of my myriad faults as a gardener is that I am just too tidy. I have this tidiness driver that takes hold and before I know it the garden has had a 'short back and sides'. Seed heads and straggly foliage have been removed and there is a sense of control imposed again.

This is a fault because it's important not to be tidy if our gardens are to be friendly places for wildlife.
Untidy gardens provide vital shelter and food during the winter months for a range of native birds, insects, mammals and amphibians

We had a cracking Sunday this week and walked in the hills above the small Peak District town of Bakewell in Derbyshire. Really, stunningly, beautiful.

As we walked through woodland, there was a flock of redwings moving by. They are winter migrant scandinavian thrushes, similar in size to our song thrush but with a marked red underwing and face markings vaguely similar to those of the American robin. They have a distinctive high pitched call as they pass overhead.

The birds were clearly feeding on the plentiful berries of the native shrubs: hawthorn and wild privet berries were there in abundance.

Which brings me back to my garden. I have a large wild privet grown from a hedgerow cutting and I gave it a haircut in August. This, of course, was a stupid thing to do because the flowers are at the growing tips - as will be the resultant berries. So, my privet has no berries. Which will be no use to wildlife.

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