Felicity Lloyd

My wild success

It’s just one of the rewards that can come when you stop being a control freak in the garden

I’ve just tripped over the damned hedgehog for the second time in as many days. He has retreated into the greenhouse and is glaring out at me from under the workbench, rigid with indignation. I suspect he has learnt this expression from my cats.

Truth be told, after 14 months’ acquaintance, with time out for hibernation, we’ve got each other’s measure by now. My two elderly rescue moggies barely spare the drama king a second glance.

I’ve worked hard to acquire a hedgehog. And a great spotted woodpecker, goldfinches, greenfinches, chaffinches, grey squirrels, dunnocks, tits of every persuasion — you get the picture. But Mr Hog is my triumph to date, proof of a project that is nearing fruition. In short, in under two years, my garden is well on its way to becoming a wildlife sanctuary.

When I moved to the south coast, the first thing I did was sneak down my 125 x 85ft garden at dusk and excavate a 5in square corridor under the fences on either side. That’s the minimum size for a hedgehog to squeeze through (the other option would have been to cut a hole in the panels). Hedgehogs travel up to a mile and a half a night, particularly when looking for a mate, and they need to pass through an unimpeded run of gardens if they are not to be forced out — and squashed — on the road.

So that was hedgehog sex and exercise sorted. Next up was shelter. That expensive bespoke hedgehog house with its lovely nest of dried grasses? A waste of money, though it did nicely for a field mouse. A much better idea was to fell a couple of dull, light-blocking conifers and use the wood to create a sizeable log pile in an undisturbed corner of the garden.

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