Trees to encourage garden wildlife

Trees to encourage garden wildlife

Now that the majority of leaves have fallen from the deciduous trees, the berries are very conspicuous and it reminds us that they are there to serve a very important role over the winter months for our wildlife.

Over the winter months, our trees and hedgerows will provide a vital food source for our birds, insects and mammals. Planting an appropriate tree or hedgerow in your garden will not only benefit our wildlife to ensure its survival, but you will also be rewarded by being able watch the wildlife flourish in your garden. If you don’t have a large garden, you could consider planting a tree in a large container.

Trees benefit wildlife all year round

It is not only during the winter months that we should consider what a valuable asset a tree is to wildlife. During the spring and summer when the trees are coming into leaf, insects will be attracted to them. Birds raising chicks will pick off the insects to feed their young. This is a natural way of keeping the insect population down and it alleviates the need to use sprays. Over the years, we have erected many bird boxes at Arundel Arboretum to encourage bird life as much as possible. This method has resulted in us never having to spray our stock against an insect infestation.

Buying a tree to encourage wildlife

There are a number of things to consider when buying a tree to benefit wildlife. A thorny tree would be good as a nesting site, as this will provide extra protection for nesting birds from squirrels raiding their nests. It is always wise to consult your local tree supplier for the best advice on what would be suitable to plant. Here at Arundel Arboretum, we are passionate about wildlife and some trees to consider include:

Amelanchier ‘canadensis’ is a small deciduous tree with green foliage, which turns yellow-red with orange-copper tinges in the autumn. Amelanchier ‘canadensis’ has masses of small white, fragrant flowers, which appear in April and May. These are followed by red-green fruits in the summer, which eventually turn black. Amelanchier ‘canadensis’ is suitable for most soils, but it is best to avoid chalky conditions. It will thrive in full sun and partial shade.

Crataegus persimilis ‘Prunifolia’ is a variety of Cockspur Thorn. In our opinion, it is one of the most attractive of all thorns. It produces green, glossy leaves turning a blaze of orange, red and yellow in the autumn. Masses of white flowers appear in May, followed by bunches of large, rich, red fruit from autumn onwards. Crataegus persimilis ‘Prunifolia’ a small tree that can withstand heavy pruning, and is an exceptional wildlife tree – the ideal tree for nesting birds as the large thorns deter cats and squirrels from climbing the tree and disturbing the nests. A very hardy tree – “as tough as old boots”! It can withstand north, south, east or west positions and clay to chalk soils.
Malus ‘Evereste’ is a small deciduous tree, which is broadly conical in shape. It has an eventual height of approximately 16 feet.  Their large soft pink to white flowers emerge from scarlet buds in April and May and dark green leaves, which turn yellow in the autumn. It produces yellow-orange fruits that can be used for culinary purposes and if left on the tree, will often last until after Christmas. Malus ‘Evereste’ is great for wildlife, and is especially a hit with the bees. It can also withstand north, south, east or west positions and dry ground. In the past, we have witnessed fieldfares eating the crab apples when snow is on the ground!
Sorbus aucuparia is a small, native deciduous rounded tree with greyish-downy winter buds. They open to dark green leaves in the spring, which turn red or yellow in the autumn. Sorbus aucuparia produces clusters of white flowers in late spring, which are attractive to bees. Orange-red berries follow in the autumn and these have big appeal to the thrush family. Sorbus aucuparia is a good choice for a small-medium garden. It will also grow in difficult conditions, and can cope with polluted and exposed sites. It is a magnet for wildlife.

To encourage wildlife further, you could also consult your tree supplier for advice on planting a native hedge. Hedges provide food for many birds, animals and insects. Your hedge will provide a nesting place for birds, and hedgehogs can shelter at the bottom of the hedge. You may even be lucky to find wood mice further up in the branches.

We would recommend your native hedge mix include: Crataegus monogyna (Hawthorn), Acer campestre (Field Maple), Prunus spinosa (Blackthorn), Fagus sylvatica (Beech), Euonymous europaeus (Spindle) and Viburnun opulus (Guelder Rose). This mix will provide a good food source for wildlife.

Arundel Arboretum, your local tree supplier, will be happy to assist and advise you on the best trees and hedging plants to incorporate into your garden plans in order to encourage wildlife.

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