Did you know that 6th to 12th June is Garden Wildlife Week? We’ve come to appreciate our green spaces all the more over the past year or so, but what about the creatures we share those spaces with? Garden Wildlife Week is about encouraging us to think about the wildlife all around us and how we can help it to flourish. With that in mind, we’ve come up with some activities that you might like to try, including ideas for those of us who don’t have gardens.
Make a wildlife corridor
If you’re able to (and as long as it’s okay with the owner of your property) make a small gap of around 13cm square in the base of your fence to create a place for wildlife to travel through. Especially helpful to hedgehogs, who are often prevented from roaming in search of food, it may mean that you get visits from these adorable creatures as they sniff out snacks. It’s mutually beneficial, too, as one of their favourite foods is slugs, so you’re less likely to find that your plants have been munched! Remember, if you fancy leaving out food for hedgehogs, make it wet cat food. Unfortunately, the traditional habit of leaving out bread and milk can actually make these carnivores very ill and so should be avoided.
Make a garden jungle
One that will come as a blessed relief for some of us who struggle with keeping on top of the lawn: let a corner of your garden grow wild without mowing it! Doing this will provide a perfect sanctuary for nature to thrive. Make it even more attractive to our little friends by adding a pile of sticks and logs and a few large stones for all the creepy crawlies to make their homes in.
Once it’s well established, it’ll provide the perfect location for our next activity...
Go on a bug safari
Most kids love bugs, it’s a fact. Give them a magnifying glass and it’s all the better, as they’ll be able to see the intricate structures of these amazing creatures. Find something you’re not familiar with? Just look it up. Some of the more unusual mini beasts may not be recognisable, but there are plenty of places on the internet that can help with identification, such as this guide from The Woodland Trust.
Feed our feathered friends
A great activity for rainy days, as it’s mostly indoors, making fat balls to help the birds along in their search for food. There’s a great recipe here!
After that, you can sit back and see what visitors you get and, if you like, find out a bit more about them using the RSPB site.
A great option to connect with nature for those of us without gardens, nature scavenger hunts are easy to do and don’t have to cost a penny. You could choose specific types of things according to the season, such as an acorn or a conker, or go more abstract and challenge everyone to find something hard, something tickly, something pink, etc. It’s a great way to add another level of interest to walks, which can sometimes feel like a chore to children. The Woodland Trust has some great inspiration if you’re short on ideas, take a look here.
Build a bug hotel
The beauty of this bug hotel is that it can be made without having to buy any special materials and children can feel a real sense of achievement that they’re helping nature. All you’ll need for the bug hotel is an empty 500ml bottle, washed out so it’s no longer sticky, a bunch of small twigs, some moss, pine cones, dry leaves or grass and some string.
Carefully cut some holes in the side of the bottle (about the size of a 2 pence piece) to give the bugs a way to get in, then stick twigs through the holes while stuffing the bottle with the leaves, moss and grass until it’s full. Use string or garden twine to hang the bottle up from a tree or against a fence, then keep an eye out for any little visitors!
Plant some seeds!
Many companies now do seeds specifically for attracting wildlife and they’re often the easiest to grow. Prepare a bit of ground in the garden, sprinkle the seeds and care for them according to the instructions on the packet. Thanks to our weather, that often doesn’t include having to water them! If your garden’s a bit too small to give over space to a wildflower area, why not plant up some old wellies? Just fill them with compost and then plant bubs or sow seeds. They make really lovely, colourful planters and the children will love the novelty value of it.
No garden at all? Not a problem. If the children are keen to try growing something then go for an indoor plant. Cress is a great one to grow from seed and it’s especially fun to grow in a half egg shell with a face drawn on it. Just fold up a bit of moist kitchen paper, sprinkle a few seeds on it and your creation will soon have a lovely head of green hair!
For a slightly more grisly option try a Venus Fly Trap. Kids love how the leaves of the plant snap together when a fly (or often a little finger) tickles the tiny hairs on the inside of the leaves, triggering the plant’s jaws.
If you’ve got kids who are into crafts, then involve them by appealing to their artistic side. Take a pad of paper and a pencil along for them to record their findings. There are loads of great tutorials on YouTube for how to draw pretty much anything.
Another option is to collect some natural materials, perhaps as part of a scavenger hunt, and then make some art with them when you get home. It’s a lovely way of bringing nature into your home and creating a memento of a fun day out. For younger children, bark rubbing is a really easy activity and all that’s required is some paper and crayons, then just put the paper up against the trunk of the tree and lightly scribble over it with a crayon.
Ever heard of this? It sounds a bit quirky, but it’s really just the idea of being completely surrounded by nature as a way of relaxing. No swimsuits needed as it’s just the forest you’ll be immersed in and funny as it may sound, it’s actually been proven to be really beneficial to mental health. We’re lucky here in South Yorkshire to have loads of places where you can experience the great outdoors, so why not give it a try and see how you feel?
Get out and about
Gardens and parks are amazing places to see nature day-to-day, but sometimes it’s worth going a bit further afield. The Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust maintain a number of nature reserves in the local area, ranging from large moorlands to small, city-centre nature parks. Most are free to visit. For more information on how to find them, check here.
Alternatively, if you’ve got a particular animal in mind that you’d like to spot, Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust have this useful guide to when and where you can see various creatures.
Is your garden just a little bit special? Then why not get the recognition you deserve by entering the Rotherham in Bloom Gardening Competition 2022? Closing date for applications is 7th August, so you’ve got plenty of time to primp your peonies and groom your gerberas! For more information about categories and to enter, go to https://www.rotherham.gov.uk/gardencompetition There’s even a category for best wildlife garden – awarded to gardens that provide sanctuaries to birds, insects, hedgehogs and other local wildlife.
For more ideas on how to welcome wildlife into your life, check out this amazing list of family-friendly activities from Wildlife Watch.
If you feel inspired by this blog and would like to find out more about becoming a foster carer why not book a call with one of our fostering team?
Learn more about fostering in Rotherham
If you have any questions about fostering in Rotherham, book a call back with a member of our experienced team at a time that suits you. All our call backs are confidential.