Did you know that 13% of Britain’s freshwater and wetland species of wildlife are under threat of extinction? That includes species such as frogs and toads, water voles and insects. Britain is losing ponds, streams and wetlands due to development, drainage and intensive farming, and it’s having an effect on our wildlife. This year, the Wildlife Trusts and the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) have put their heads together to try and help, and they’ve come up with the 2019 Wild About Gardens challenge – put in a pond! As well as helping birds, insects and other wildlife, this is a fantastic project for the school holidays and will help children learn about ecosystems.
Even if you don’t have much space, you can try a mini container pond or a little garden pond – even filling a waterproof container outside the back door means hedgehogs and squirrels have somewhere to drink in hotter weather. All ponds – large, small, dug or container – are good news for bats, damselflies, dragonflies, other insects.
The Wildlife Trust say: “All you need to do is fill an old sink or washing-up bowl with rainwater, plant it up with pond plants and make sure that wildlife can get in and out safely, perhaps by providing a ramp.”
As well as helping wildlife, ponds are a focal feature in any garden and can be cheaply made from recycled materials. The project launches on 12 March and you can download a help guide from the Wild About Gardens website.
Building a pond is a great family project. Get everyone involved and nurture your budding Monty Dons with these children’s gardening and wildlife ideas.
Children’s gardening tools range, Dobbies
Garden superstore Dobbies offer a range of children’s gardening tools which are proper, miniature versions of the real thing. This kids’ digging fork by Kent & Stowe is £19.99, while the hand fork is £5.99. Both are aimed at children aged four and above, and to be used under supervision.
Children’s Big Bird box set, boxwild
This contains all you need to get a child interested in feeding the bird, including a ‘paint your own’ nesting box. There’s also two regular sized seasonal seed blends, a bird feeder and a little seed scoops for smaller hands. £28, available from boxwild.
Live butterfly garden, the National History Museum
Here’s one we really like the look of – after all, the world can always use more butterflies! Your children can watch the magic of metamorphosis right before their eyes with this live butterfly garden. Once they’ve arrived, the caterpillars will grow up to 10 times their original size, spin a chrysalis and transform into beautiful butterflies ready for release into your garden. £22, available from the Natural History Museum.
Butterfly house, Idyll Home
Once you’ve got your butterflies, you’ll want to provide them with a des res of their own! Attract beautiful butterflies to your garden and they will help pollinate your garden flowers and plants. In return for their hard work you can provide them with a protective home with this 100% FSC-certified wooden butterfly house.. £9.95, available from Idyll Home.
Wildlife camera, House of Bath
Monitor the activity in and around your new pond using this unobtrusive 1in camera. The camera produces a live relay direct to your TV screen complete with sound. Simply fix the tiny camera where you want it using the clip supplied and plug the other end into your television and that’s it – no film is needed. The camera relays in colour or black and white infrared and offers two lenses – standard and wide angle. Suitable for dry/sheltered environments only. £49.98, available from House of Bath.
Main image credit: Common blue damselfly (c) Zsuzsanna Bird 2019