Winter can be challenging for wildlife with food sources and shelter to protect against the harsh winter weather in short supply. Adding winter evergreens which sustain wildlife through these demanding months will both benefit birds and insects and create an inviting landscape to your garden.
Holly (Ilex aquifolium)
Winter evergreens are perfect for the winter garden with their welcoming warm greens and many provide food and habitat. Holly is a familiar plant used at this time of year, with its glossy leaves and vibrant red berries, to decorate houses over the festive period. Holly is also a great plant to have growing in the garden. It can be grown as hedging or in pots as a stand alone feature plant. The holly berries provide an important food source for our native birds.
Ivy (Hedera Helix)
Ivy is another evergreen often used merely as decoration. Contrary to popular belief, this self-clinging climber does not do too much damage to walls, buildings and trees when correctly managed. The benefits of growing ivy can provide added protection to your walls, will create a year-round plant of interest and the dense foliage provides continuous refuge for birds and small animals. In autumn the yellow flowers provide nectar for a variety of insects including bees and butterflies. Throughout the winter months the dark berries provide food for sheltering birds.
Firethorn is an evergreen often grown as boundary hedging but can also be grown in pots or as a small shrub or tree. With rich green leaves and clusters of delicate white flowers, this shrub provides an abundant of yellow, orange or red berries in the autumn for garden birds to feast on. Firethorn can be used to create structure in the garden and will give garden wildlife food and shelter throughout the year.
Honeysuckle is a must have shrub in any wildlife friendly garden. This climbing plant is important to many wildlife species. With green oval leaves and yellow trumpet flowers, which release an enticing fragrance, honeysuckle attracts bees, butterflies and moths. In the autumn, juicy red berries attract birds and squirrels. Insects are attracted to this nectar-rich shrub. It provides a food source for predator species such as ladybirds, garden birds and bats. The climbing stems also provide valuable nesting sites and material for birds and small mammals.
Our gardens are the perfect environment to provide food, shelter and natural corridors for local wildlife to flourish and thrive. During the cold winter months our frequent visitors need our help more than ever. With thoughtful planting choices we can both enjoy the visual beauty of our gardens while also supporting local wildlife all year long.