(Above) One of the hedgehogs in Emma's garden (below) Emma Godden
Meet, Emma, one of our Make Wildlife Welcome Heroes!
Emma is our very own Wildlife Supporter Officer - you might see her out and about at various venues and events around the county. She has a real passion for wildlife and gained plenty of knowledge and experience from our Skills For The Future programme. Read how Emma has been making wildlife welcome....
What kind of wildlife have you spotted in your garden?
Emma: I’ve only recently been lucky enough to have a garden again, although I did have an allotment to make up for it for a few years. Since June 2014 I have spotted…
Birds include House Martin, Green Woodpecker, Blue & Great Tit, Sparrows, Pied Wagtail, Robin, Starling, Blackbird, Goldfinch oh and a Barn Owl flew low right over our heads but that was pretty special and not an every day occurrence, although we do hear them!
Mammals: Well it’s all about our hog recently. Having spotted a hedgehog in our garden we decided to make it more than welcome! We’ve built two hedgehog houses (it seems to use both!) and we are feeding it dried hedgehog food and ensuring a supply of fresh water every night. Having sat out on ‘hogwatch’ for many nights now, I have found that they drink a huuuuuge amount of water. We’ve also seen a wood mouse.
Other creatures: A slow worm and a great variety of butterflies, moths, bees and occasional dragonflies, green shield bugs and ENORMOUS spiders!
Gardening is good for wildlife, but why do you think it is important for people? Why is it important that we encourage our children to appreciate wildlife?
On the whole we all love a garden think about our Great British barbecues for example! They tend to be social places where we spend time with those that we enjoy spending time with. They can be of enormous value in terms of our physical and mental health too. The therapeutic benefits of gardening have long been recognised in this respect and the rewards and satisfaction from the labour of love that goes into growing fruit and veg or tending wonderful plants cannot be matched when it comes to tucking into something tasty and home-grown or watching your garden change colour through the seasons and hearing it and seeing it buzzing and fluttering with life.
Gardening, and what it means to have a garden, is a really personal thing and that’s one of the reasons I think it is so important. A garden can mean different things to different people and different people have different styles but often a garden will serve many functions at any one time and I think that’s the key thing about the Make Wildlife Welcome campaign.
One of those functions can unobtrusively be making wildlife welcome too. You can Make Wildlife Welcome in a way that fits with your type of garden and gardening style. You may see your garden as an entertaining space, an extension of your indoors, a play area for the kids or animals, a great place to grow to stuff and be green-fingered, or a place to unleash your inner designer (that you might be too scared to unleash when it comes to DIY in the house!). It can also be a super place to escape to and unwind listening to nature’s sounds our gardens are the perfect place to reconnect with nature and the childish wonderment that survives in us all and remind ourselves that we are very much part of the natural world and not separate from it.
The Dorset Wildlife Trust campaign, Make Wildlife Welcome, is all about doing something extra for wildlife, with whatever outside space is available to you. What is the most unlikely place you have used to benefit wildlife?
Emma: I do like to recycle. I have made some small hanging baskets using old baked bean tins and milk bottles and they have worked really well. I am also in the process of giving a new lease of life to a tired old wooden chair to create a sort of “seat for nature” type thing. These are google-able for anyone interested in doing the same. It would look beautiful in any garden. Simply search something like “chair planter ideas”.
The 2013 State of Nature Report states that 60% of UK species are in decline. We’re suggesting that the 15 million gardens in the UK can help tip the balance if we use them wisely. But this is a huge challenge. How can one person with a small garden really believe that they can do something to help?
Emma: Size doesn’t matter. It can be as simple as creating a bucket or [old!] saucepan pond or having a small patch of nectar- and pollen-rich flowers all year round whether in pots or window boxes if you have limited space. Be a nosey neighbour! If your neighbour looks to be attracting wildlife to their garden, have a chat with them. There’s no reason the pollinators for example won’t visit your garden too if you’ve got a butterfly or bee buffet on offer! You can also ensure creatures can travel between gardens by ensuring that there are a few gaps small enough for small mammals (but not your dogs) to get in and out. A hedgehog, for example, will travel through approximately 15 gardens a night if able to and will provide you with natural slug control!
Why should people join the campaign to Make Wildlife Welcome?
Emma: Our gardens can help change the state of nature if we all do a little something to help the wildlife on our doorstep. If we work together, this huge resource that our gardens undoubtedly are will provide immensely important corridors for wildlife and a vital link between them and our protected spaces. After all, our gardens can represent mini sanctuaries for wildlife individually, but collectively they total more space than all of Britain’s nature reserves! Nature is all around us and I rather like to think of it as a big patchwork blanket. If we all work on our patch, when put together we can make a stunning blanket and a huge difference. Nature isn’t just on nature reserves; it can thrive in your own back yard and together we can be ‘blooming’ marvellous.
Would you like to become one of our Make Wildlife Welcome heroes and join us to help garden wildlife?
We'd love you to be part of our campaign to make wildlife welcome in garden's throughout Dorset. There's a special pack of goodies for non-members (and a members only starter pack) plus we'll be providing tips to help you realise your wildlife gardening dreams. Find out more here