Creating my mini-wildlife garden (part 1)

As I’d moved into my new home in early January, it wasn’t until mid April before I finally started to tackle my tiny back garden in earnest. Given that there wasn’t a single shrub, tree or herbaceous border already there, I was effectively working on a “blank sheet”.

My first task, after cutting back the overgrown and very patchy bit of “lawn”, was to organise and set out the galvanised metal buckets and planters which I’d brought over with me from my old flat (where they had previously been located on my balcony) . I simply relocated them on to the wooden decking which was already in the garden when I moved in.

Fortunately, most of the planters already had a good mixture of pollinator friendly flowers and bulbs growing in them which had been planted in order to provide good sources of nectar and pollen throughout most of the year . These included lots of spring flowering bulbs such as crocuses , daffodils, snowdrops and grape hyacinths. For early and midsummer nectar sources I had foxgloves , yellow flag iris (in a bucket pond) , honeysuckle, fastia japonica, “bears breeches” (acanthus) , meadow crane’s-bill, goldenrod , elecampane, welsh poppies and teasels as well as several herbs including chives, mints and rosemary .

It was great to have these basic “building blocks” to add to the garden right away and which I could easily place on the east facing wooden decking, where it was lovely to have my morning coffee surrounded by the constant hum of nectar foraging bees .

As half of the garden area was covered by a concrete driveway (which wasn’t possible to dig up), I was determined to still find a way to add lots of greenery to it and so decided to get a couple of cheap metal raised beds off the internet and locate them on the unforgiving concrete slab. I then simply filled them both using a 50 – 50 soil/compost mix which I’d managed to get delivered from a local soil merchants.

The metric tonne bag of soil/compost blend was very good quality and even after filling the 2 raised beds, I still had enough left over to fill several galvanised metal dustbins which I later planted up.

The next task was going to be my favourite one . To actually plant up the raised beds. As I wanted to encourage wildlife and also get my toddler (who lives with me half the week) actively involved with gardening too, I decided that I was going to concentrate on growing a mixture of edible fruits , herbs and plants. This way , I could let my little boy enjoy the fruits of our labour (literally!) as well as providing good sources of nectar and pollen for bees, butterflies and other pollinators when they were in flower – and also leave plenty of fruits and berries to feed the visiting wildlife.

As the raised bed was only 100 cm x 100 cm square and 30 cm deep( and placed directly on to a concrete drive), I decided to plant a plum tree with a dwarf rooting stock which was ideal as it wouldn’t need much space for it’s roots, will fruit much sooner than a non-dwarfed fruit tree of a similar age and will only grow to 4 – 6ft in height. Ideal for a tiny garden such as mine.

In the second raised bed, I planted a Jostaberry Its a vigorous shrub which is a hybrid between a blackcurrant and a gooseberry shrub. Growing up to 8 foot in height , it would give a a bountiful supply of juicy berries in the summer , provide cover and perching sites for birds(important if you want to attact birds into the garden) as well as a bit of privacy when I was sat out.

Jostaberry planted in the front raised bed with the plum tree planted in the raised bed at the back

Once I’d got the Jostaberry Bush and Plum Tree planted into their respective raised beds, I under-planted them with a variety of herbs and edible plants including anise hyssop , borage, curry plant, chives, fennel , globe artichoke mint, sage and marjoram These nectar rich plants knitted together to form a mass of weed suppressing foliage and flowers and, as you can see from the images below, attracted endless numbers of pollinators including bees, moths, hoverflies and butterflies


*click on images to enlarge*

Creating my mini-wildlife garden (part 2)

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