Wildlife gardens are increasingly popular, and you don’t need acres of land to encourage birds to feed and nest in your garden – simply plant varieties they love!
Many bird species are declining in Britain because they are losing their natural habitat, but you can help. There are 15 million gardens in the UK, covering 270,000 acres – that’s more than all the country’s nature reserves put together!
Choose plants that flower and seed at different times, so birds can eat natural foods all year round. Climbing plants also provide good cover for birds to roost. My top 10 plants are:
A stunning cotoneaster
In autumn this plant will offer birds masses of fruit. Big fans include thrushes, finches and blackbirds, as well as more exotic birds like waxwing.
The catkins and early growth of twisted hazel are ideal for chiffchaff and spring migrants.
It’s a great climber for birds, offering berries and cover for them to roost. Thrushes, warblers and bullfinches love it.
Malus Golden Hornet
Fruit from this plant will decay if you leave it untouched, exposing tasty seeds for great tits and greenfinches.
Pyracantha Orange Glow
This plant provides winter berries for thrushes and blackberries.
Big rowan tree and ripe berries at golden sunset light
This is a great, compact plant for small to medium gardens. Different species will give berries from July to November, providing a feast for blackbirds and starlings. The white berries however are not as popular!
Goldfinch and Linnet love this plant’s seed heads.
Its flowers attract insects, which birds love to eat, and its winter black berries are a firm favourite of thrushes, waxwings, starlings, jays and blackbirds.
Bidens Solar Garden
Its yellow flowers attract insects that are ideal food for tits, robins and warblers.
Other ways to help
Don’t be too keen to tidy your garden – those leaves, stems, twigs and debris make great nest material for birds!
You can install nest boxes for almost every garden bird you can think of, including owls, robins, sparrows and house martins. Site them away from feeding grounds, as the activity can disrupt mating pairs, and be patient – it can take a couple of years for birds to fill your box!
Finally, place a bird bath in your garden and keep it topped up with fresh water. Birds will flock to it for drinking and bathing. Put it somewhere you can see it from your window, so you can watch the birds without disturbing them.
For more garden wildlife ideas, check out my blog:
David Domoney is a Chartered Horticulturalist, Broadcaster, and Author. David has worked with a number of the UK’s leading garden retailers as a plant buyer and strategic consultant. With more than 30 years experience, in horticulture, David is as passionate about plants now as he was when he bought his first plant at a village fete.