When we first moved from a flat into a house, having a garden was a main motivation for me. We’d been luckier than most in that our flat was on the ground floor and had a small patch of garden outside it, which had allowed us to have bird feeders.
After putting up the feeders I’d quickly become addicted to watching the birds come to feed every day. The flat was in a mostly industrial area right on the border between Manchester and Salford, but despite this there was an abundance of birds – Goldfinches, Robins, Blackbirds and Wood Pigeons were my regular ‘customers’. And not to mention the large flocks of tits comprising of a mix of Great Tits, Blue Tits and Long Tailed Tits which used to swoop through like a group of noisy, argumentative hooligans, attack the feeders and then disappear almost as quickly as they’d arrived – leaving suddenly half empty feeders in their wake.
So when we started viewing houses I suddenly realised that the garden had silently moved up my list of priorities, and when we viewed this one it was the garden that swung it for me. Sure, the roof seemed sound, the re-wiring had been done and cosmetically not much needed doing – which was good because I was working full time and studying on top meaning that any jobs or refurbishment required would either be in the hands of my husband solo, or simply have to wait until I was more available. But the garden! It was small lawn and two small patio areas – one at the bottom of the garden and one at the top, to catch the sun at both ends of the day. The rest was a large bed, which was a mass of flowers when we viewed. Fully enclosed – on two sides by trees and hedging – it was private and enclosed, and I knew that it would make a great haven for wildlife.
When we moved in, it looked like this –
The bird feeder was one of the first things to be installed!
Then for the next 12 months, other than keeping the birds well fed, the garden took a back seat as we sorted out the house and got back into the routine of work and study.
It wasn’t until Summer 2014 that I started thinking about the main elements that I wanted in my wildlife-friendly garden.