The primroses pushing their heads above ground are a sign that it’s time to start planning your gardening calendar for the year. As well as considering the plants and shrubs that need your attention before they blossom into life, spare a thought too for the amphibians, insects and small mammals that inhabit your garden.
WWT London Wetland Centre is holding a Festival of Gardening on the weekends of March 26 & 27 and April 2 & 3. TV gardening presenters and authors Gay Search and Matthew Wilson will be attending the Festival, together with local gardening experts.
Follow their top five gardening tips to create a haven for wildlife in your own urban oasis, however small it may be. Even a window box can be planted with nectar rich flowers for insects to feed on.
(1) Leave seed heads for the birds
Leave seed heads of grasses and perennials such as Phlomis and Verbena bonariensis on during the winter. Small birds such as blue tits love the seeds and the plants are just strong enough to bear their weight.
Gay Search: garden expert, TV presenter and author
(2) Find out which habitats are missing, and fill the gapDon’t try to replicate every possible wildlife habitat in your garden. For one thing it’s impossible and for another will leave your garden looking a terrible mess. Instead look to the area around where you live and try and put in your garden something that is absent from your surroundings. So if there are no ponds in the area – make a pond, no old log piles – create a stack of logs, and so on.
Matthew Wilson: Channel 4’s The Landscape Man.
(3) Make the most of rain water
Think about capturing and using rainwater in your garden rather than letting it run off into our struggling drainage system. Install water butts to store water ready for use or utilise water directly in the garden by creating a rain garden. For ideas and inspiration come and see our new RBC Rain Garden here at WWT London.
Alwyn Craven: London Wetland Centre’s gardening warden.
(4) Green your roof
If you have shed, garage or small extension – put a green roof on it. Make sure it has native wildflowers on it.
Dusty Gedge: Green roof specialist, naturalist and campaigner.
(5) Bring the streets to life
Think of our pavements and transport arteries as corridors for wildlife, particularly bumblebees. So plant what they love. My favourite is lavender, because it’s great for us and for bees and surprisingly well suited to London’s streets.
Richard Reynolds: Guerrilla gardener.
As part of the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) Festival of Gardening, London Wetland Centre is holding a full programme of events and activities, including:
• Sunday 3 April The Healing Garden: a talk by author Gay Search
• Sunday 27 March ‘Ask the Gardeners’ celebrity garden panel, including Matthew Wilson and Dr Nigel Dunnett
• Saturday 2 April Guerrilla Gardening and green roof planting talks
• Pond planting, compost, willow and ‘Support your vegetables’ demonstrations. Find out more: Festival of gardening