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Gardening with wildlife in mind - English Nature's CD

For those of you who feel strongly about gardening alongside nature, you will be interested in a CD that English Nature have produced for gardeners. This page gives further details. The following description is from the Cumbria newsletter of English Nature and the foreword by Chris Baines, whose wildlife gardens have been prominent exhibits at the Chelsea Flower Show since 1985.

Gardening with wildlife in mind - CD Rom by Steve Berry of English Nature

Gardens play an important role in keeping people in touch with wildlife. They also now contribute significantly to the conservation of some species. The common frog has benefited from the construction of thousands of garden ponds, as have dragonflies and other aquatic invertebrates. Birds have a better chance of surviving cold weather thanks to food provided for them by householders.

Most gardeners enjoy seeing wildlife on their plot but may not know how to attract it, other than by hanging up a peanut bag. They don't want to turn their garden into a wilderness, but want the best of both worlds: garden-worthy plants which are also attractive to wildlife.

It's for just this audience that English Nature has produced the Gardening with wildlife in mind CD, published by the Plant Press. The CD has information on - and stunning photographs of - some 800 species of plants and "creatures" - from bumble bees to birds and butterflies. What plant seeds are goldfinches most likely to eat? Click on goldfinch to find out. How can you increase your chances of getting the orange tip butterfly or the spectacular privet hawkmoth in your garden?

The CD will tell you. It explores the complex relationships between predators and prey: what eats what. It also has information on plants providing the best sheltering and nesting areas for birds as well as what to avoid in order to maximise the wildlife potential of your garden.

The Foreword is by writer and broadcaster Chris Baines and the introduction by Sir Martin Doughty, Chair of English Nature.

There are thought to be 15,000,000 gardens in Britain. If many more people gardened with wildlife in mind, they could make a personal and a really significant contribution to nature conservation - and have the bonus of a more interesting and stimulating garden.

The CD is planned to be available around Christmas 2003 direct from The Plant Press, 10 Market Street, Lewes, BN7 2NB, 01273 476151, or from major computer software retailers and garden centres, price £9.99 (plus £1.50 post and packing if ordered from the Plant Press).

Foreword to English Nature Gardening with Wildlife in Mind CD Rom Chris Baines

It's important for all of us to find ways of gardening with nature, whether we have a tiny town garden or a rolling rural estate. I have always enjoyed the wildlife on my doorstep, and it is quite obvious from the public reaction to my books, radio and TV programmes, that enormous numbers of people in the UK feel the same. As a horticulturist who learned his craft in the 1960s, I spent years being taught how to kill things. In those days, wildlife in gardens was generally seen as one of three kinds of problem - a pest, a disease or a weed - but I soon learned that a good gardener can turn that attitude on its head and work with nature to create a garden that is beautiful and full of life. By choosing plants carefully, avoiding poisonous chemicals, and tolerating a little decay, even the smallest of gardens can become a safe haven for all manner of native plants and animals. Provide a further boost to the garden habitat with extra food, some nesting boxes and a dependable source of unpolluted water and even more wildlife will visit regularly from the surrounding neighbourhood.

It has always seemed obvious to me that wildlife in the garden brings benefits for people, and now there is scientific evidence that close contact with nature close to home can reduce stress and really make us feel better. Equally important is the growing recognition that the way we garden can make an important contribution to the wellbeing of the wildlife itself. Whilst post-war farming practices have seen loss of habitat on a massive scale, in the towns and villages where most people live and work, many kinds of wild plants and animals are doing rather well. The half million hectares of domestic gardens are a major factor in the fortunes of a whole range of species. Garden ponds have been the salvation of the common frog, the toad and the newt. The colourful flowers in our borders, tubs and hanging baskets boost supplies of nectar and pollen for the bees and butterflies. Suburban hedges, worm-rich lawns, chemical-free slugs and snails and piles of autumn leaves are all a hedgehog needs to make it happy. Where a neighbourhood network of flowery gardens is set beneath the canopy of trees, like glades in an urban forest, then spectacular species such as sparrowhawks, green woodpeckers and tawny owls are thriving.

Gardening with nature is well worthwhile for the most selfish of reasons. It brings real personal pleasure, from the first song of the dawn chorus to the last bat of the evening. Now, thanks to the advice offered in this CD Rom, it's possible for all of us to see how just a little extra effort can also make a really significant and lasting difference to the fortunes of the nation's natural heritage.

Chris Baines is the author of the best selling book How to Make a Wildlife Garden and he built the very first wildlife garden at Chelsea Flower Show as long ago as 1985. Chris is a national vice president of the Wildlife Trusts, a trustee of the Heritage Lottery Fund and works as an independent adviser to industry and to central and local government. He has a small garden, full of wildlife, in inner city Wolverhampton.

© 2003 English Nature

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