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Gardens can be small privately owned areas of land, often adjoining other similar
areas as well as large formal gardens and Local Authority parks and gardens.
Gardens surrounding private houses are generally less than half a hectare and have a
variety of uses; open spaces for children to play, keeping pets, growing horticultural
plants, fruit trees and traditionally but less commonly for growing vegetables. Where
several gardens occur adjacent to each other, for example on a housing estate or in a
village, they can form a network of habitats which are more beneficial to wildlife,
especially bird and insect species. There are many simple steps that people can take
to make their gardens more attractive to wildlife and this in turn can benefit the plants
they grow there. Gardens provide a vital link for people to learn about local wildlife.
Current status
As a pristine biodiversity habitat gardens are of relatively low importance, however
they provide an important secondary refuge for birds and butterflies, many of which
are declining in the wider countryside. Garden habitats, particularly hedges and ponds
are also important for small mammals moving between isolated areas of wild habitat.
Many of our common birds are increasingly dependent upon gardens as a winter food
source, e.g. bullfinch and greenfinch. There is an increasing trend for smaller, low
maintenance gardens, those with fences not hedges, paving and gravel rather than
vegetation. This adds up to less wildlife habitat. The small but growing interest in
wildlife gardening must be encouraged.
119 Our Partnership with Nature: A Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Powys. September 2002
Species distribution
Much of our garden wildlife is now threatened in the wider countryside, for example
the bullfinch, songthrush, butterflies such as orange tip, the hedgehog, common frog
and common toad. Loss of wild habitats means that gardens are increasingly
important refuges for some of our more common species. The hotspots for these
species will be where gardens border good quality wildlife habitat or farmland. Lawns
over 50 years old, to which fertilizer has never been applied, can support waxcap
fungi and other important species.
Current factors affecting the habitat
Lack of awareness of the potential benefits of gardening for wildlife
Use of herbicides and pesticides such as slug pellets. Lack of awareness of
beneficial insects
Trends of horticultural industry for example imported bulbs, imported wildflower
seed, use of hybrid species which don’t produce pollen, nectar or seed and
excessive use of peat based products. Peat is damaging to the habitats it is
extracted from. Some excellent alternatives are available now.
Derelict gardens, especially old country estates, can harbour invasive species
such as Rhododendron ponticum and Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica)
Increased interest in gardening as a leisure activity. The National Botanic Garden
of Wales is encouraging people to take up gardening and promotes sustainable
Use of non-native and highly invasive oxygenating plants in garden ponds. This
threatens many natural water bodies and their associated species.
Japanese Knotweed is specified under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) as
an invasive non-native species. Several garden pond species are also a particular
cause for concern.
A register of notable gardens has been established by the Welsh Historic Gardens
Trust and 51 parks and formal gardens are notified.
The majority of gardens in Powys are privately owned, or under local authority and
independent charity management. There has been no countywide action for garden
wildlife in Powys to date although a number of small-scale projects are in place. Many
schools now have wildlife gardens within their school grounds.
Current action
Research into organic and sustainable wildlife gardening is carried out by the
Centre for Alternative Technology, Machynlleth.
A Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) scheme has been set up in Newtown
enabling local people to produce low cost organic vegetables.
The National Trust at Powys Castle are investigating alternatives to peat based
Information and advice on protecting indigenous wild plants and plant communities
is provided by national organisations such as Flora Locale and Flora for Fauna;
these aim to encourage gardeners to plant local native species to support local
A garden bird monitoring scheme is under way in Montgomeryshire and promoted
through Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust.
Our Partnership with Nature: A Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Powys. September 2002
Benefits of wildlife gardening
Improved quality of garden habitats for wildlife, particularly when food is scarce in
winter (birds)
Encourages people of all ages to become interested in local wildlife
Greater appreciation of the importance of sustainable land use and the role of
wildlife gardening in protecting biodiversity
Raises awareness of the damage to peatland habitats through using peat-based
compost products
Increased awareness of the importance of collecting biological records and the
role of the Biodiversity Information Service for Powys and Brecon Beacons
National Park.
Increased awareness of biodiversity value of gardens can coincide with
conservation of some of the best surviving grassland fungi sites.
Key species
Important species associated with gardens are; bullfinch, song thrush, goldfinch,
siskin, house martin, swallow, pied wagtail, coal tit, blue tit, great tit, willow tit, garden
warbler, blackbird, green woodpecker. Great crested
newts will occasionally occur in garden ponds but are
more likely in larger ponds and pools. Pipistrelle and long
eared bats will inhabit garden trees and occasionally
Review date for statement:
December 2007
121 Our Partnership with Nature: A Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Powys. September 2002