How wild are we? Insights into your gardens

© Adam Humphrys

In Spring 2020, we launched our citizen science program - “How Wild Are We?” You told us what wildlife you could see from your windows, who visited your balcony and what creatures were living in your garden. This is the first of three blogs sharing the results.

    We asked our followers from across our two counties to fill out five different surveys to assess the biodiversity in their local spaces. Residents spotted birds and flying insects from their windows with the Window Wildlife Spotter; they dug around in nooks and crannies outside to find some Invertebrate Insights; they looked at a square in their garden and drew all the plants they could find in the Plant Plotter survey; for our nightlife survey, some even went out with a torch to discover our nocturnal wildlife; and for those who had ponds, we asked them to take a closer look and report back on the pondlife they saw.

Here are the results from what you told us were in your gardens.

Top wildlife gardening activities

With 15 million gardens in the UK at a combined size of around 270,000 hectares, gardens are a vital and significant habitat, providing food, water, shelter, breeding and nesting areas and a way to travel from one place to another.

There are many very simple ways to welcome wildlife whatever the size of land you have in towns or in the countryside. We asked our participants what actions they take for wildlife at home and the top five actions were;

  1. Bird feeding station 
  2. Insect shelter
  3. Planting nectar rich plants for bees and butterflies
  4. Planting shrubs and bushes with berries
  5. Watering with water from a watering can, not a hose.

All of these actions, and more, when put together can attract a whole variety of wildlife. 

Bar chart of percentage of people taking action for nature.

Plant Plotter Results

We asked you to go out into your gardens and balconies and draw us a picture of what plants you could see within one meter squared. We wanted to know how much grass, how many flowers, and how many trees were in your area. The more diverse and varied the plants are in your garden, the better.

Flowers

Thirty eight different flowers were reported to us in the survey results. 65% of them were native flowers. Native flowers are always best because they are well adapted to the climate here and their natural pollinators and herbivores are already well adapted for consuming them. 

Trees

Just under 50% of people reported a tree in their plant plot. Here are some of the trees that people had.

Willow tree - Native
Young oaks  - English or common are native
Crab apple - Native
Acer – Native (field mape)
Orange jubilee – from Argentina.
Mountain ash - Native
Argentea Marginata (Holly) - Native
Goat willow – Native

For further reading

Do check out How Wild Are We? on our website here. We are excited to develop our citizen science program and watch how Hampshire and the Isle of Wight become wilder in the years to come.

Other organisations have citizen science initiatives, if you want to do more! Check out the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch and Butterfly Conservation's Big Butterfly Count.