How can the industry better promote wildlife gardening?

HW asked the attendees of the Forum for Gardening with Wildlife in Mind last Friday.

- "There are lots of exciting wildlife projects being carried out but there is no holistic whole joining them together.

"The horticultural media has a role in bringing everyone together. We should be undertaking practical and community-based projects rather than working in individual gardens, as wildlife gardening is ideal for generating a community spirit. I also don't think organisations are engaging enough with local government. They need to think about how they fit in with local, regional and national strategy. This is the only way they will develop their projects."

Simon Davies, partnership project officer, Sevenoaks District Council

- "I would most like to see the horticulture industry working with us to avoid disappointment. There are lots of products available which don't actually work, including dormice or bumble bee boxes. Also wildflower meadows are much more difficult to establish than people believe.

"Another problem is that gardening programmes on TV focus on the big and spectacular, and sometimes make out you need to spend lots of money making over the garden. But you don't have to spend a lot of money and it would be better to get more people looking at little things in the garden, like insects."

Steve Head, trustee, Pond Conservation

- "My big bugbear with the horticulture industry is how nectar has been bred out of plants. It's particularly noticeable in new varieties of annuals and herbaceous border plants. Border plants used to be full of nectar but take Sedum spectabile as an example.

"The nurseries are now stuffed full of S. 'Autumn Joy' which is sterile and pretty nectar-free. I understand that they are bred that way so they flower longer but now there is nowhere for the hoverflies, moths and bees to feed in late summer. Bringing back the nectar is crucial. We need a well-delivered campaign to ensure this happens."

Matthew Oates, nature conservation adviser, National Trust

- "Last year at the conference we heard about an independent garden centre in Devon that was working in partnership with its local Wildlife Trust. The retailer was labelling products as wildlife-friendly, didn't stock non-native invasive species, provided advice, and a wildlife garden certification scheme had been set up. Clearly, both organisations were benefitting from the partnership.

"If you have a permanent partner who shares your agenda with expertise and money on board, like the connection between the Scottish Natural Heritage and Dobbies Garden Centres, then you're away."

Ken Thompson, senior researcher, University of Sheffield


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