How wildlife friendly can you make your garden?

Something BIG is stirring and I don’t just mean Spring!  Over the Winter, a hard-working group from WildMaidenhead and WildCookham have been germinating a plan!  It’s a plan that they hope will help get the village all fired up and even more enthusiastic about our local wildlife and in particular, what we can do in our own little way to help nurture it at home. 
Over the coming weeks you will start to see the group introduce the “Wild About Gardens” scheme.  It will be open to ANYONE in the Cookhams with a private garden – no matter how large or small.  Now it’s not a traditional competition, there is no winner as such, but I am told there is a party planned where they will be awarding special certificates, and there will be a Priceless Plaque (think of something that is definitely, almost certainly like the FA Cup or even better), that they intend *cough* will be handed down through generations to come in the village. 
So here’s the scoop, ahead of the press and directly from Cindy of WildCookham: Wild about Gardens is really, really easy for you to get involved with.  It’s a “certification scheme based on a self-assessment check list”.  Let me translate that; WildCookham will publish a checklist of wildlife friendly garden features in four different categories – 24 features in all.  If you have at least one feature in each of the four categories, you can declare yourself to be a Bronze level garden.  I shall be doing this by standing in Cookham Dean with a mega phone.  Two features or more in each category and you will be allowed to call yourself a Silver garden.  And those of you lucky, lucky people with three features or more in each category, will be a Gold garden and stand a chance of receiving the Priceless Plaque.  Remember, “size does not matter”!!  Your garden can be large or small, we all know it’s what you do with it that counts!  So here’s an example from Cindy:

“One of our four categories is WATER.  Having some sort of pond in your garden will help attract all manner of insects, birds, reptiles and even mammals.  It could be a wildlife friendly, natural swimming pool like I have (see here) OR it could be any water-proof container, like a washing up bucket even, that you turn into a mini-pond.  Either way it is going to work for the wildlife, and that is what we want to encourage.”

Whilst the main point of the scheme is to literally improve the gardens in the village for our wildlife, sharing knowledge and getting people talking and learning is also important.  The organisers will be visiting some of the gardens to take lots of photos of your lovely bug hotels and hedgehog doors and toad palaces so they can pass on your ideas.  Cindy says:

“We are hoping that this will inspire and motivate people.  Maybe a group of neighbours will all enter and that will create a little wildlife corridor that might not have been there before.  Or maybe when we visit the schools, the children will then help their parents understand what they need to do to become a Golden garden, and the family will spend some time over the summer doing it”.

The scheme will be piloted from April to June 2018 and will be limited to the Cookhams initially and to those gardening private gardens.  However if all goes well, in subsequent years, it is hoped to extend the scheme to a broader location and to open the entries to community gardens, balconies and business grounds.

You can join the WildCookham Facebook group here to keep up with all of the information about Wild About Gardens and the groups other activities.  WildMaidenhead Facebook group is here.

Garden mini-pond

A bug hotel!


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