School children are being encouraged to gt involved with this year’s national Wild About Gardens Week and help save one of the countryside’s most well known characters, the hedgehog.
The week runs from October 26 to November 1 and TV presenters Twiggy, Ben Fogle, Bill Oddie and Chris Beardshaw are all backing this annual celebration of garden wildlife hosted by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and The Wildlife Trusts.
And this year, they have joined forces with Hedgehog Street to highlight what gardeners can do to help this much-loved yet fast-declining species.
And children are also being encouraged to get involved and make their school more hedgehog friendly.
Hedgehogs are in trouble. Research by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species shows that hedgehog numbers have declined by 30 per cent in the last 10 years alone and there are now thought to be fewer than one million left in the UK.
To help encourage people across Britain to think about how to make their gardens, schools and community spaces hedgehog-friendly, this year’s Wild About Gardens Week will be a call to action and a celebration of the humble hedgehog, packed with events, competitions and opportunities to get stuck in.
“I can honestly say that I have not come across a wild hedgehog anywhere – whether in the woods or countryside or garden or my garden – for something like three or four years,” said Bill Oddie, vice-president of the Wildlife Trust.
“That is really sad because, let’s face it, they’re one of these little creatures which everyone knows.
“Hedgehogs also do a fantastic job in your garden munching up worms in particular, the odd slug occasionally and, I dare say, they’ve been known to crunch open a few snails.
“Basically the hedgehog is the gardener’s friend. There’s no two ways about that and we need them.”
Events will include a national call to action to create hedgehog holes in fences – a handy template can be downloaded from the Wild About Gardens Week website.
There will also be a competition to design the best hedgehog home with three categories: individual, group and school.
The prizes will range from a trail camera to a visit from a hedgehog expert. The closing date is Monday, November 9.
“Everybody loves hedgehogs and it’s a tragedy that they are disappearing so quickly particularly when it’s so easy to help them,” added Ben Fogle, who is a patron, British Hedgehog Preservation Society.
“We can all have a go at planting a native hedge, creating gaps in fences for them to pass through, leaving leaf or log piles and allowing parts of the garden to grow wild to give them a home.”
“As gardeners, we often forget that the garden is a refuge for our smaller visitors,” continued Chris Beardshaw, a presenter on BBC2’s Gardener’s World.
“Thanks to starring roles in children’s poetry and prose, the likes of bats, owls and squirrels have all played a part, not just in opening our eyes to our gardens and landscape, but as a major connection to our childhood.”
A host of hedgehog-themed events will be taking place around the UK, from talks and workshops to community activities.
Add your event or search for those happening near you at www.wildaboutgardensweek.org.uk/events