Blackrow Nurseries, Shorthorn Rd. Stratton Strawless, Norfolk Tel: 01603 754 878
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Woodland Trust Native Tree Shop
It is an order made by a local planning authority (in Norfolk this is done by the District Councils) which makes it an offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully damage or wilfully destroy any tree protected without obtaining permission from the local authority. Its purpose is to protect trees which make a significant impact on their local surroundings. The order can cover anything from a single tree to woodlands, including hedgerow trees, but not hedges, bushes or shrubs. Further information is available from www.communities.gov.uk
Any hedge is beneficial to wildlife but a mix of evergreen and deciduous planting is good with plants that have autumn berries. Some suggestions could be holly, hawthorn, blackthorn, hazel, field maple and beech. Thick hedges and thorny hedges provide the best protection for nesting birds and cover at the base of the hedge such as long grasses may encourage hedgehogs and small mammals.
You don't need a huge garden to attract wildife, any open area can be managed for the benefit of wildlife. If you have a patio area why not plant some low growing plants in the cracks and gaps. By doing this you will be providing a valuable habitat and food for a variety of small animals. Bellflower, cranesbill, herb robert, purple saxifrage and thrift are just a few plants that will happily grow in such an environment.
Plants provide three essential resources for wild birds.
The first, often overlooked, is cover. Birds need shelter and protection from predators and weather for themselves and especially for their nests.
Secondly, wild birds need invertebrates, such as tiny caterpillars, aphids, beetle and sawfly larvae, etc., to feed themselves but most importantly to feed their chicks. Even house sparrows, which eat almost entirely seeds as adults, require huge numbers of invertebrates to survive their first few days after hatching.
Thirdly, the seeds, berries and fruits of plants are vital food for birds in winter. It follows that to attract and help the most birds; your plants should offer all three of these resources.
Cover means hedges and bushes, dense, preferably thorny and absolutely not pruned in summer when thrushes and finches are rearing late broods.
Robin boxes, by the way, are useless in the open but readily used if hidden behind a spiny shrub pyracantha and hawthorn are ideal, not only excellent at concealing nests but being native it supports invertebrate larvae and provides the added bonus of autumn berries.
Other plants that tick all three boxes include ivy, holly, yew (females for berries), blackthorn and bramble.
For invertebrates, native plants are best, but be tolerant; cotoneasters feed moths as well as providing cover and fruit, buddleia from the Himalayas feeds the butterflies while they search for native plants to lay eggs on.
Of course, starting from scratch it’s far better to plant native species; barberry, thyme and marjoram, an oak if you have room. For autumn fruit, elder is the king with enough berries for us to share. Apple trees (unsprayed, of course) are also excellent for both invertebrates and fruit. Don’t forget seeds: teasels for goldfinches, honesty for bullfinches, sunflowers for greenfinches.
Planting for wildlife can become an absorbing hobby; butterflies and moths, for example, require specific food plants which are easily researched in books or on the Internet. Many of these plants are attractive; a garden that provides a healthy food web for wildlife, rather than a sterile display of alien curiosities, can still be a beautiful garden to enjoy.
Mistletoe can be successfully grown from berries but this is by no means easy and it may take many attempts before you succeed.
To increase your chances of success it is best to collect the mistletoe berries in February or early March not at Christmas! You may need to cover a few berries on an existing plant with a net or you run the risk that birds will have eaten them leaving none for you to collect! The seeds will stick to the bark of the trees when the berry is smeared onto a branch. In the wild this is done by mistle thrushes and other birds which are fond of eating the white mistletoe berries but discard the sticky seed by wiping their bills on a convenient branch in the process spreading mistletoe from tree to tree. Mistletoe will only grow on certain tree species and apple trees seem especially receptive. Hawthorn, lime, poplar, whitebeam, pear, field maple and ash are also suitable trees to try.
Chose a young branch with thin, smooth bark and wipe the seed in a shady position such as the north facing side or underside of your chosen branch. There is no need to cut the bark with a knife. You will need patience. It can often take a couple of years before the first pair of mistletoe leaves appear. Prior to that you may if you look carefully spot the fragile green root which is the first sign that your berry has germinated successfully. Remember while mistletoe does not kill trees it is partially parasitic so you may not want to plant it on your best fruit tree! Once it's established it is fine to harvest some each year and both the mistletoe and the host tree should survive for decades.
To be wildlife friendly it needs to provide a combination of shelter from the elements and predators, a supply of food and good breeding sites. A good hedge will be composed of a mixture of native species to encourage a variety of wildlife. Consider using 50% hawthorn in with a selection of three or four other species to add diversity. Other good species to use are blackthorn, field maple, dog wood, common alder, hazel, crab apple and holly. Once the hedge is established you can introduce climbers such as dog rose, honeysuckle and ivy all of which will increase the value to wildlife of your hedge
Plant your hedge by creating two staggered lines with plants spaced 30 to 45 cm (12”-18”) apart with the second row about 45cm (18”) from the first.
New hedges are best planted during autumn and winter (October – February). Avoid periods when the ground is frozen or water-logged. Dig over the area for planting, one spade blade deep and remove any grass or weeds. Bare rooted trees and shrubs (whips) will be cheaper than pot grown and are better for establishing a hedge. Most hedgerow trees or shrubs do not require any compost unless your soil is sandy or heavy clay.
You will need to weed around the base of your new plants for the first couple of years and water in dry periods during the growing season.The hedge can be lightly trimmed in the autumn every other year but remember to leave some of the hedge uncut to provide plenty of berries for winter and avoid cutting your hedge during the nesting season of birds (March to late July).
To provide more homes for wildlife; leave the grass long leading up to the hedge and leave leaf piles and log piles at its base to provide a variety of habitats for invertebrates and small mammals. Flowers such as snowdrops, primroses, red campions, dog roses, honeysuckles, foxgloves and violets can be planted at the base of your hedge – these will encourage insects to visit. Foxgloves are especially attractive to bees and honeysuckle will attract moths at night.