A vivid memory from my childhood is putting out cat food in the garden for the hedgehogs and then creeping out into the dark to spot them munching away. I haven’t seen this iconic mammal in the wild since then. The photo above was taken when we handled one from a Dorset Hedgehog Rescue Society and, alas, is not from our garden.
The Hedgehog Street Garden at this year’s Hampton Court Flower Show aims to help increase hedgehog populations by asking people to take some simple steps to make their garden more hedgehog-friendly. A third of hedgehogs have been lost in the last decade.
Your first step is to talk to your neighbours. Hedgehogs need to be able to move across garden boundaries to find food and partners to mate with. So passageways, at ground level, between gardens are particularly important. You need a hole in and a hole out 5 inches by 5 inches, that’s about the same size as a CD cover is all you need. The average range for a hedgehog in an urban area is about 500 gardens. So that is a lot of holes that need to be created for just one spikey creature. Whilst at the Show I spoke with the Chair of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) about how to deter foxes from using these holes. His answer was to create a hedgehog tunnel the same diameter as the hole which will deter foxes and cats using them as a highway.
The garden created by Tracey Foster for the Show includes long wavering grasses and leaf piles which are perfect for hedgehogs to collect for bedding. The water features, although very shallow and easy for the hedgehogs to drink from also include escape routes and ramps for hedgehogs should they slip into the water. This would also work for other animals, such as frogs. Food for them will come from fallen fruit from the cherry tree and from all those creatures that nibble away in the vegetable and flower borders. They are an organic hoover for slugs, beetles and caterpillars. Additionally it isn’t just snakes that like log pile houses. They are a perfect home for hedgehogs.
The garden is part of the BHPS’s Hedgehog Street campaign to combat the decline in hedgehogs. Please take a look at their website and join the campaign to make your street a hedgehog street in a city of wildlife.
I am pleased to report that the garden was awarded a well-deserved gold from the RHS’s judges.
A little while ago my son read the Children’s classic story about a hedgehog ; the Hodgeheg by Dick King-Smith . I’d love it for my son and other children to have the same hedgehog childhood experiences as me.