This week’s blog is all about #WildAboutGardens week, combining two of my favourite things – Gardening and Wildlife #LoveIt
Please share this blog so we can spread the word about the importance of gardening for wildlife!
What is #WildAboutGardens Week?
#WildAboutGardens Week is an annual campaign run by the RHS and The Wildlife Trust, that runs during October half term (so 24th-30th this year) to raise awareness about the importance of gardening for wildlife! #TotallyMyBag
Each year they focus on a different type of wildlife to showcase how people can help protect them or improve their garden, to benefit them. Last year was hedgehogs and this year, with the help of the Bat Conservation Trust, it’s all about bats. There is a bit of information on what Wild About Gardens Week is all about and why we need to protect bats here
There are fewer wooded areas, ponds and grass space for bats to feed, so by making small steps to make our gardens more wildlife friendly we can make a big difference.
Here’s what we do as a family to help bats in our garden:
Bats need somewhere to live (roost), they literally hang upside down! They need a habitat, like hollow trees, caves or a shelter where they won’t get disturbed, like a roof space. They also hibernate over the winter because there are fewer flying insects around. We think we have 1 – 2 bats living in the roof space over our bathroom. We see them most dry nights between spring-autumn, therefore we must be doing something right in our garden!
BAT FACT – just like us, bats are mammals, yes that’s right, they are the only flying mammal around!
If you want to have bats in your garden you have to start at the beginning of the food chain with the plants and flowers that they feed on for example plants that attract caterpillars, which are great for birds such as blue tits. Caterpillars turn to moths and the moths are eaten by bats. In our garden, we planted lots of plants, shrubs and flowers such as buddleia and verbena that are popular with insects. There’s a list of bat friendly plants here
Plant a range of trees and shrubs which creates a haven for wildlife in general. Trees and shrubs provide a shelter for birds and a home for thousands of different types of insects and their larvae, which are in turn eaten by birds during the day and bats at night-time.
MY TOP TIP – If you want wildlife in your garden, learn to love insects!
Night-scented flowers such as the honeysuckle and jasmine we have in our garden, are great for moths, which in turn are good for bats
BAT FACT – bats are not blind – they can see, but at night their ears are more important than their eyes. They use echolocation (a high pitched noise called out to the environment and they listen to the echoes of those calls that return from various objects near them) to find their way and catch their food in the dark #wicked
We have Michaelmas daisy and sedum flowers in our garden, they provide nectar and pollen in late summer into autumn, when many other flowers aren’t around. Check out the Michaelmas daisies in the photos below taken just one week apart
Herbs and aromatic flowers like the lavender and borage we have are popular with a wide-range of insects too
Ivy is brilliant, it provides shelter for birds and insects and flowers in the autumn when there aren’t many other flowers about. When you sit near our ivy at night it’s alive with noise – it’s cracking
A Pond is great for attracting wildlife into your garden – such as frogs and toads; they eat the pests most gardeners don’t want, like slugs! We love to watch the birds, who like to bath in our pond. Mosquitos and midges lay their eggs in water, which the bats just love to eat #WinWin. We are building a more wildlife friendly pond this winter so I will be blogging about that soon
BAT FACT a pipistrelle can eat 500 tiny insects in one hour #Munchies
Compost areas are just a haven for different insects; they do some wonderful things to your compost and provide food for birds and bats. We have an area for our composting in the garden. Click here to find out how to make your own compost
Organic gardening allows insects to thrive, it’s one of the most beneficial ways to encourage natural predators. If you don’t use pesticides and herbicides, it dramatically increases the number of beneficial insects you will have in your garden, which in turn is food for other wildlife – bees, bats, birds, butterflies and hedgehogs We have never used either pesticides or herbicides in our garden
Make your own insect hotel – I’ve made loads over the years at school, wildlife events and at home. They are really easy to make, click here for more advice
Autumn is a great time to make a bat box for next year’s roost. For ideas on how to make one, click here. Make sure you never disturb a bat box though, once it’s up as they are protected!
Join a local Bat group to find out more about bats in your area. Do a spot of bat watching at a bat haven close to your local area. Check out the Big Bat Map. Or why not count bats in summer, as part of a national survey for the National Bat Monitoring Programme
Most importantly tell people that bats are AMAZING and share ideas about how to make more green spaces bat friendly
How to get involved in #WildAboutGardens Week
You can organise an event in your school or community group to raise awareness of the cause to others and then submit your event via the Wild About Gardens Week website which will be promoted by the RHS to others who may want to join in. The event doesn’t have to be focused on bats, it can be gardening for any type of wildlife.
There are lots of resources for people to use either at home, at school, in their community group, which will help them make their garden more wildlife friendly
You can enter a photo competition to win some bat goodies. You just have to take a photo of plants that attract insects (which are then food for bats) and upload it to the Facebook page. Info for that is here
You can also get involved via social media by tweeting using the hashtag #WildAboutGardens
It would be great to hear from you about how you are helping wildlife in your garden – please leave a comment below, answering any of these batty things!
- What is your favourite bat experience?
- Why do you think bats are great?
- What are you doing to help them in your garden?
- What is your favourite UK bat species?
Part 2 of this batty blog will be live on Tuesday 25th October
It’s half-term for me this week and I’ll be blogging and using social media all week about the #WildAboutGardens campaign. I’ve also got a special trip planned to RHS Garden Wisley – I can’t wait for that I’m #WellExcited