Ever since man has cultivated the ground, there has been wildlife alongside him, taking advantage of, and making the best of, a new and varied habitat. Not always have the two gone comfortably hand in hand. Britain is a nation of gardeners, on a mighty scale in Victorian times, and of necessity during the wars. We also love our wildlife.
At first it was as hunters we learned about it, then as our knowledge grew, our wildlife was appreciated in its natural, undisturbed habitats, and studied there. However, until quite recently, our gardening and our wildlife were kept apart. We went to the countryside to see animals and wild flowers, and our gardens were kept tidy, and carefully mown, clipped and weeded, leaving few opportunities for wildlife to flourish.
Now, with more information available to us, and because of the efforts of the conservation groups, our awareness of nature around us has improved, with the result that we have made huge steps towards creating whole new habitats for wildlife in our gardens. Curiously, much of the same countryside we used to visit, to see wildlife, is now farmed for food production, often at the expense of wildlife habitats. Our gardens, therefore, are invaluable as havens for wildlife, be it fauna or flora, because they provide massive resources by way of trees, plants, grassland and waterways. Importantly, too, these are often in heavily populated urban areas, where, otherwise, wildlife would struggle to maintain an existence.
Moves by conservation groups, the wildlife trusts, and other organisations, have promoted wildlife friendly gardening, and there are structured methods by which we can maintain cultivated ground in tune with the needs of animals, birds, insects, and wild plants. Natural England is one such organisation, offering advice, on its website, on wildlife friendly gardening. Many of the Wildlife Trusts have structured courses on gardening for wildlife, and there are other sources of information on the subject.
Over the last several years, following efforts and action by various concerned groups, the attitude of people towards our environment, the whole world over, has changed immensely. Some groups are more crusading than
others, and might have had greater immediate effect. Established large organisations such as the RSPB, although always prominent, plugged away steadily, with support from noted naturalists to promote their message. More radical groups, e.g. Greenpeace, steered boats in front of whaling ships to raise public awareness of the plight of one of our more spectacular animals.
Gradually our whole attitude towards wildlife changed, and we started to seek ways to preserve its status. Membership of conservation organisations increased. Some people became involved in groups near where they lived, and took positive action, assisting with tasks to improve their local neighbourhood. Others, more passive, joined groups in name only, but at least lending their support financially. As the movement gained impetus, more people sought to learn how to help wildlife around them, and the most obvious places were in their own gardens.
In the next post in the series we will discuss how these changes in attitude manifested themselves and the impact it had on our gardens here in the Uk.
In the meantime should you have any gardening related issues then feel free to pop along to Worthy Plants, the number 1 Hampshire Garden centre and provider of Hampshire Plants. You will be assured of a warm welcome.