Help Wildlife Feel at Home This Winter; One in Three People Is Now Taking Measures to Attract Wildlife into the Garden, According to New Research. Hannah Stephenson Finds out How We Can Give Animals and Insects a Winter Haven

Article excerpt

ATHIRD of us are actively trying to encourage wildlife into our gardens - an increase of more than 30% compared with four years ago, according to research by the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA).

More products targeted at the wild bird market are available in garden centres and we can choose feeding regimes which will attract birds that we most want to see in our gardens, says the HTA, the trade association for the UK garden industry.

Indeed, some 62% of us now regularly feed the birds in our garden and nearly a quarter provide nesting and breeding habitats.

But birds are not the only wildlife we can look after during the winter months and beyond.

By making leafy habitats and cosy corners, we will provide shelter for small animals who need to hibernate uninterrupted and for beneficial insects who will stop the nuisance ones such as aphids in their tracks.

Leave stones laid over hollows for toads, newts and even slow worms, as well as centipedes which prey on slugs. Pile up a few logs, which don't need to be massive, in a quiet, shady spot and soon stag beetles, spiders and bees will be making a home out of this damp log cabin.

Log piles may also be housing slugs and snails, which in turn will attract blackbirds and wood mice looking for a meal, while hedgehogs may also forage for insects and slugs.

Try not to make your garden too tidy if you want to provide shelter for wildlife. Areas of long grass and piles of leaves, stones and twigs provide shelter for many beneficial insects and small mammals. Always check carefully for signs of life by gently turning over autumn bonfires before igniting them.

Ladybirds gather in large clusters to overwinter on dead plant stems, particularly in more sheltered parts of the garden. …