There can be few gardeners who have not experienced the thrill of a close encounter with some form of wildlife in their garden. Birds and butterflies are an absolute joy to watch flying among the trees and flowers, and there are many hidden creatures that scurry and slide underneath the plants, which also have an important role to play.
This book, written by award-winning authors Christine and Michael Lavelle, is aimed at gardeners who want to encourage wildlife to take up residence in their backyards, stemming from the idea that creating a wildlife-friendly area is not only exciting and fun, but also improves the overall health and wellbeing of the garden.
The first part focuses on the more common types of wildlife found in a variety of habitats, describing their role in gardens and the plants and supplementary food that will attract them. From birds, butterflies and bees to lizards, frogs and dragonflies, the creatures' main characteristics and life cycles are described and their habitat preferences and feeding strategies outlined.
The next part covers one of the most exciting aspects of garden design: how to choose the right plants to attract backyard wildlife. A directory of 280 species makes the process clear and simple. Each entry explains how to grow the plant, where to locate it, how to propagate it and which types of wildlife will benefit. For example, knautia is a perennial that grows well in full sun in a naturalistic planting, and will attract bees and butterflies in summer and birds in autumn; and hawthorn is an excellent hedging plant with spring blossom for bees, dense branches for birds' nesting sites, and autumn berries for mice and birds.
Whether your backyard is small or large, and whether you live in the town or the country, this book is ideal for anyone wishing to create a wildlife garden. Its wealth of information and 400 beautiful photographs will help gardeners and wildlife enthusiasts alike to create exciting outdoor areas that not only look beautiful but also help local species at the same time.
Michael Lavelle studied horticulture at Askham Bryan College in York and environmental management at Wye College in Kent. He has designed and constructed several educational exhibits at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, achieving prestigious gold medals in 1999, 2003 and 2005, and winning a silver medal for his specialist wildlife garden in 2007. He currently works as a senior lecturer in landscape management at Writtle College in Chelmsford. Together, Christine and Michael have won the Garden Media Guild Practical Book of the Year Award twice, in 2003 and 2008.
Christine Lavelle is a lecturer in horticulture and ecology at Writtle College, Chelmsford, and an external examiner for the School of Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. She trained at the National Trust for Scotland's Threave School of Practical Gardening and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, where she was awarded the Sir Joseph Hooker Prize by Sir David Attenborough and the Kew travel scholarship by Professor David Bellamy to study plant conservation in the Galapagos Islands. Christine was assistant Head Gardener at Levens Hall topiary gardens in Kendal and Hardy Ornamentals Team leader at Askham Bryan College in York. Her main areas of work are in organic growing and wildlife gardening.