Habitat Creation | Window boxes & Container gardening
Your garden doesn't have to be BIG to attract and appreciate wildlife in your neighbourhood.
You may be able to have a mass of flowers from May to October. Commercial buildings usually nowadays have shrub boxes, climbers and other perennial species.
Many annuals will attract bees and other insects, as well as providing flowering colour. To avoid too much expense, various recycled containers can be used, and many plants can be grown from seed.
Even your window boxes will have their own seasons and habitats if tended to properly, wherever they are placed. In the Summer, you will have a satisfying display of colour and scents. During the Winter, the containers with dying plants, not that attractive will still provide cover for a range of "mini-beasts", amphibians or small mammals.
Anything that is sturdy, waterproof can be used, provided there is drainage at the bottom. Plastic, clay, metal, and glass containers can all be used regardless of shape, e.g. sinks, chimney pots.Generally the larger the container the better, but make sure you can move it with the compost in, otherwise plant up in situ. Also remember you must have access for daily watering in Summer for most types of planting. If you are mounting or hanging your basket make sure the brackets can support the weight if the container.
If you have a paved area in your garden why not remove a couple of slabs and plant low growing plants in the gaps. Herbs such as thyme and chamomile are especially suitable as their leaves give off a scent when crushed, but most compact rockery plants will do well too. Of course, you can plant up any size of plants in the gaps and attract wildlife successfully
Avoid buying peat based composts, because of the destruction of natural habitat caused by the peat industry. For bulbs or annuals peat free substitutes are suitable. Soil based compost is better for long term shrubs or climbers. Ordinary garden soil is not usually suitable for any container planting, and it will give disappointing results as it will harden to a solid mass, uninviting to plant roots. Why not try making compost from your garden refuge as a cheap alternative? This will contain some weed seeds, but these can be eliminated by covering with a top layer of sterile commercial compost, about 5cm deep.