Wyevale Garden Centres’ ‘Garden Trend Report’ published earlier this year reveals that more than three quarters of the British public want to attract more wildlife to their garden.
The survey of 15,000 garden-lovers from across the UK found that Brits are putting wildlife high on the gardening agenda, with 82% saying they want to attract more wildlife to their gardens and help the birds, bees and hedgehogs.
Meanwhile, 86% of gardeners said they try to feed or provide a home for the birds in their garden, with 37% deeming wildlife to be the most appealing garden feature.
Wyevale has teamed up with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) to provide gardeners with tips on how to start creating safe, sustainable and environmentally friendly havens for wildlife to flourish through the cold season, suggesting other retailers can capitalise on the growing interest in the category.
Wyevale GC head of horticulture Mark Sage said: “Protecting wildlife over the cooler seasons is extremely important – it’s also a great way of getting children excited about, and closer to, nature. Whether it’s a mammal, bird, insect or amphibian, nature enthusiasts can use our tips to turn their gardens into a wildlife haven for winter.”
The colder months are a key time for gardeners to feed and protect wildlife, including birds, for whom food is scarce, and hedgehogs who are preparing to hibernate and need to boost their weight to make it through the winter.
RSPB national account manager John Capper said: “Although feeding birds is important all year round, it can be life-saving during the winter – when food is scarce and the cold can take its toll.
“Birds need high-energy foods such as suet balls or cakes during the cold weather to maintain their fat reserves to survive the frosty nights. Sunflower seeds and nuts are also high in fat, as are small black nyjer seeds, which are favourite of goldfinches and siskins, though you will need a special feeder as they are particularly small. Peanuts should be fed in a secure Nut & Nibble feeder to avoid birds choking. They can also contain a natural toxin which can kill birds so make sure you buy your peanuts from a reputable trader.”
However, he does advise that certain food mixes are better than others – something retailers should take note of if they want their customers to have success with attracting birds to their garden.
“Avoid bird seed mixtures with wheat and barley grains, split peas, beans, dried rice or lentils. These are added to some lower seed mixes to bulk them up but only attract the larger birds such as pigeons and doves. The better mixtures contain plenty of naked oats, sunflower seeds, and peanut granules.”
Meanwhile, Wyevale is advising gardeners to keep gardens untidy, so that hedgehogs, dormice and other wildlife can use the fallen leaves, twigs and dead vegetation in unkempt areas to build their nests. A wild area also provides a home for insects that hedgehogs and birds can feed on. Consumers may also look to purchase hedgehog homes and feeding stations during this period, as well as hedgehog food in the lead up to a cold snap, creating opportunities for retailers.
Brambles Pet and Wildlife sales director David Tracey told DIY Week: “It’s really important to feed hedgehogs in the lea d up to November because they might not be at the weight to last through the winter.”
Wyevale Garden Centres also advises customers: “Shelter is essential for a hedgehog’s survival during the winter so choose a quiet spot that is unlikely to be disturbed from November to March when they will be hibernating. Compost heaps also provide another cosy location, so check for signs of wildlife before turning it and try not to empty your bin before April to avoid evicting any hibernating wildlife.
It is also important to educate gardeners about the risk posed to wildlife during bonfire night. Many wildlife charities and organisations are currently trying to raise awareness about the issue. Wildlife World sales and marketing director David van der Meulen told DIY Week: “It’s a huge campaign for us. People tend to build up their bonfire before the big day. We are trying to raising awareness about the risk for hedgehogs that climb into a nice pile of leaves and then they light the fire the next day and they are killed.”
Read more about opportunities in the category in DIY Week’s Pet & Wildlife range review in the October 12 issue.