A little while after folding away all the tarpaulins at the weekend, and standing surveying my handiwork, I was aware of an odd movement out of the corner of my eye. Focusing in on the centre of the plot I thought I spotted a lizard, but my Dad reliably told me it was in fact a smooth newt. Turns out he (the newt that is!) had been wallowing in a muddy area on top of a tarpaulin where water had gathered. I immediately felt guilty for having accidentally turfed him out of his home.
After settling him in a nice shady, damp spot under the water tank I realised I really should be doing more to encourage a healthy mix of wildlife to the plot.
When I first took over, it was an ungovernable, lawless state and I decided the only way I was really going to get on top of it was to clear absolutely everything and start afresh with a blank canvas before me. This required cutting down a large buddleia (which blocked out the sun and consisted mostly of dead wood), some fruit bushes which had gone to wrack and ruin and swathes of nettles.
While this riotous environment was useless for growing fruit and veg, it was great for wildlife, and I do feel bad that various creatures had to up sticks and find homes elsewhere as a result of my zealous clearance programme.
But, two years to date, I’m now able to see the wood for the trees, and feel in a position to help wildlife play its crucial role again, so I have a few plans in mind.
Following on from the newt discovery I’ve now decided to create a small wildlife pond, I will be allowing nettles to grow in two places so butterflies and other insects can flourish and I will be finding an area on which to scatter some wildflower seeds for bees and other buzzy wonders.
I still have the stump from the buddleia which is now a trendy insect ‘hotel’ (complete with all the latest mod-cons and room service!) and at some point I will also be planting an apple tree so the branches of the cherry tree will have someone to wave to. I will let you know how I get on!
Bees, or the lack of them, have been making many headlines recently and we should do all we can to look after them. After all, insects pollinate our food and we ignore them at our peril!