Wildlife gardening tips

Centre for nature and green living

Making space for nature

Jane Thurlow
Jane Thurlow's garden

We had planned a Ta(l)king Action workshop on wildlife gardening for 21st March 2020 but, sadly, had to cancel it due to the coronavirus pandemic. As a substitute, here are some tips shared by several of the would-be participants. We hope you find them useful and look forward to hearing about your efforts to make space for nature in your garden, or even just a window box. A lot of wildlife is having a tough time due to the pressures of habitat destruction, climate change and other factors resulting in the sixth mass extinction. What we can do as individuals may not seem like much but (according to the Wildlife Trusts) the 16 million gardens across the UK form an area for wildlife larger than all our National Nature Reserves. Together we can give home to a lot of species and have great gardens to enjoy – wildlife gardening is good for your wellbeing and for the planet.


Growing in Acomb

Jane Thurlow is a very experienced gardener, co-owner of The Nursery and member of York Organic Gardeners Association. Here you can watch an introduction to the amazing suburban organic garden Jane manages with Tony Chalcraft in Acomb. As well as being a micro ecosystem of its own, this 1-acre wildlife haven supplies veg to local wholefoods shops and neighbours.

Jane’s main tips for growing veg while giving space to nature are:

A wildlife friendly and productive garden can still be a very attractive environment for you too. So make sure you cultivate your crops AND get your wildlife working for you. Creating space for and watching wildlife is immensely rewarding and good for the mind – you might not want to be inviting slugs for dinner but seeing one share a meal with a hedgehog is delightful.

Wildlife Gardening, by JaneThurlow

Phil Taylor’s wildlife-friendly gardening tips

Phil has over a decade’s worth of experience of delivering wildlife education in the form of workshops, writing and photography. He is also one of our Ecotherapy tutors and has dabbled with wildlife gardening. The video below was created primarily for the Discover Nature participants but in it Phil also shares his successes and mistakes with making space for nature in his garden. There are lots more interesting videos and wildlife advice on his youtube channel as well as on the Discover Nature page, which includes the written version of the video as a PDF and pollinator flower charts such as the one on the right, which we will keep adding to.

Ivana's wildlife garden: second summer

Second summer of the new garden (the bird feeder is straighter now…)

Wilding a suburban semi

Ivana Jakubkova, St Nicks Outreach Officer: Having grown up in a rented house and not been instilled with the presumption I’d ever own one, I’m still rather surprised to have actually bought a house in Tang Hall in November 2017. The fact that the footprint of my then new garden was bigger than the house I’d rented also took a while to sink in (and then there’s a front garden too!). I felt no right to be a master of this land and still don’t believe than anyone can truly own it. I know that laws disagree and the idea of the commons is supposedly tragic but we’re just borrowing land, and all that’s on it, from future generations while sharing with many others in the present.

Wanting to be a good co-habitant I soon set about making the whole garden more welcoming to other creatures. Here are a few things I’ve done and learnt along the way:

My wildlife gardening efforts haven’t always had the intended results but it’s been hugely rewarding using that pretty much blank green lawn canvas to create something a lot more exciting and diverse. I’m still getting to know my neighbours (both human and more, or less, legged ones) and we don’t always get on – I have been squashing aphids while their predator populations are slowly rising – but it’s been well worth the effort. One day the garden may even become a truly balanced ecosystem, which will require very little interference. I’ve been practising for those days by just sitting around and watching the comings and goings whenever I get a chance. I think we could all do with getting a bit wilder, sitting back and tuning into nature, both around us and within us…


Wildlife garden diagram by Buglife

Wildlife garden diagram by Buglife. Click the image to go to their page for further wildlife gardening tips.

6 April 2020 | Categories: Inspiration, One Planet Living | Tags: climate, ecotherapy, growing, one planet living, pollinators, wildflowers, wildlife gardening