by Rebecca Ferrier
There are a number of plants poisonous to dogs, including clematis, daffodil bulbs, lupines, hyacinth bulbs, hibiscus, holly, primroses, rhubarb, hellebores and foxgloves. The Dog’s Trust has a long list of plants on their website, giving pet owners information about what to avoid in their garden and the effects each plant can have on a dog.
As much as we love our cats, they had wreak havoc on vegetable patches and it is not hygienic to let felines use them as litter trays. There are a few ways to deter cats from these patches, and strong smelling-things like orange peel and coffee grinds, are recommended to keep them clear. However, these do need replacing often, especially after rain. There are even commercial variants of strong smells, which contain the scents of fox or lion waste. There are ultrasonic devices available which can scare away any unwanted cats by emitting a high-pitched sound.
One effective way to keep vegetable beds protected, is to ensure it has a sturdy cat-proof barrier around it. There are some plants which are supposedly unattractive to cats, such as lavender, but do remember that if your own cats are the problem, sending them packing to a neighbour’s garden is not the solution and nor is it neighbourly.
Away from the domestic animals we know and love, wildlife should always be encouraged in a garden to keep it thriving. Wildlife shelters – such as the ‘Bug Hotels’ which have been cropping up in a number of National Trust properties these past few years – encourage a plethora of interesting and colourful insects which can help a garden grow. We all love to catch sight of a butterfly or two fluttering past and if you have an unruly patch of nettles lingering down the back of the garden shed, you might find that those colourful insects love it. A few nettles, kept in check, can be a great way to draw them in.
A new guide has recently been published by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), listing the best plants which bees and similar pollinating insects adore.
“Gardens are now increasingly recognised as important environments for maintaining biodiversity,” said Jim Gardiner, RHS Director of Horticulture. “By planting a broad diversity of plants gardeners can do a lot to encourage pollinating insects which, in turn, will bring in other forms of wildlife into their gardens such as birds and hedgehogs.”
The two ‘Perfect for Pollinators’ lists can be found on the RHS website.
There are some creatures we would rather not see, which chomp and crunch at our beloved plants, leaving them munched into tatty ribbons. The recent wet weather has brought all the slugs and snails out of hiding and they can cause serious problems for gardens. After looking after a neighbour’s bright and flourishing garden, I couldn’t help but notice that the secret to his slug-free space was slug pellets: a lot and spread out regularly. The prime concern when using these is ensuring that any pets do not eat them (though there are varieties which are not harmful to dogs or cats) and to ensure the pet does not ingest a slug (as they can be harmful).
Hedges, as well as providing shelter for vulnerable parts of the garden, are fantastic habitats for birds and a variety of creatures. If you need more birdsong in the garden or a way to keep down a few of the more destructive insects buzzing away in your borders, plant a few hedgerows. You’ll have a happy, busy, wildlife-friendly garden in no time.