By Chloe Harrison
Community Support Officer, Wilder Horsham District
All photos are credited to Piers and were taken in his garden.
While the main focus of the Wilder Horsham District project is to work with community groups and landowners, you as individuals are just as key and valuable to helping to develop a Nature Recovery Network. We wanted to share with you a recent communication we had with Piers, a local Horsham resident, who got in touch asking for a few ideas on how to create a wildlife-friendly garden. The work Piers then went ahead and did, and the results he has achieved are so wonderful, that we hope it might inspire you too (it certainly inspired us!).
Pier's front garden in February 2021, before its transformation.
When Piers moved into his new home a few months ago in February 2021, he took this photo of his front garden. Just a few months later in July, and the space is looking rather different...
After the dip in the grass near the birch trees was filled in and leveled, wildflower seeds were sown and have blossomed into life, providing a great nectar source for pollinating insects (and a gorgeous display for us).
Three raised beds for fruit and vegetables have also been added, and with the help of friends, yet another new habitat – a pond! It has been dug to a maximum depth of 35cm, with two shelves at 12cm and 20cm to create a variety of habitats, plus a shallow section with pebble stones to allow bees and other insects the chance to use the pond to drink from.
The wildflowers and raised beds.
The pond and wonderful wildflowers.
To help provide a home for any invertebrates, spiders, and minibeasts passing through, or newts from the pond, Piers has also introduced stones and small logs for even more habitat variety.
And Piers not only transformed his front garden but the side garden too, planting more plants to provide a haven for insects.
The side garden - before...
And the new plants have been very gratefully received!
Following the Lawton Principles, a set of principles detailing how best to create a “coherent and resilient ecological network”, as a project we are trying to make areas for nature recovery ‘bigger, better, more and joined up’. As an individual, it can be easy to feel like you can’t make a difference, but as Piers proves, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The spaces around our houses or in our gardens may seem small, but if they provide valuable habitat, they play a major role in helping to achieve the ‘more’ and ‘joined up’ areas for wildlife that are so vital for nature recovery. This is especially true when we live in urban or built-up areas, where corridors and safe spaces for wildlife are needed more than ever.
Piers’ garden is a perfect example of this in action. How wonderful it would be for even more gardens like this to pop up all over the district, connecting and linking and providing value for wildlife. It was a wonderful email to receive – if anyone else has or is planning on doing something similar, we would love to see your results too.
Piers would also be delighted to be put in touch with anyone who is particularly interested in what he’s done in his garden to have a chat/trade tips. If you would like to be put in touch, please do contact us on [email protected].
If you are interested in creating a space for wildlife in your garden/outdoor space, here are a few of our top tips for some inspiration:
- Create a wildlife pond – arguably the single best thing you can do for wildlife in your garden.
- Create a wildflower meadow – insects, especially pollinators, are in decline and this can really help.
- Use native plants – generally native plants are better for wildlife. For example, planting some alder buckthorn is great for brimstone butterflies. Richard, our Wilder Horsham District Landowner Advisor, says “If you plant native shrubs as a hedge it can be great wildlife habitat and also provides a route for creatures to move without being seen. I’ve planted a hedge in my own garden which contains hawthorn, common dogwood, hazel, elder, dog rose, field maple, and spindle. It gets flowers in the spring and berries in the autumn and provides lots of cover for birds.”
- Don’t be too tidy – nature likes it when things are a bit messy! Leave some of your lawn unmown and leave some piles of rubble or wood around. Dead and decaying wood is particularly good for wildlife.
More blogs, step-by-step guides, video tutorials, and more information on wildlife-friendly gardening can be found at In your garden | Sussex Wildlife Trust.