When I was a kid, we regularly used to have hedgehogs in our back garden - they always used to make the dogs bark when they went out just before bedtime - and I remember my grandad poking around in the bottom of the Guy Fawkes Night bonfire before he lit it to get rid of any wayward hedgehogs. In recent years, their numbers have dwindled though. According to Hedgehog Street, a joint initiative led by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and People’s Trust for Endangered Species, their numbers have dropped by about a third in the last 10 years alone. With bee-friendly plants and wildflower beds to attract butterflies all the rage, it was about time someone came up with a campaign to help out our prickly friends !
That's exactly what hedge growers and suppliers Best4hedging have done, launching a ‘Hedges for Hogs’ campaign, just as the school holidays get underway and many families turn their attention to the garden during the summer months. So, what can you do to help?
Gareth James, Nursery Manager at Best4Hedging, says: “Just picking the right plants can make a big difference to your local hedgehogs. We’re urging everyone to think about what they plant this summer, and especially to consider replacing restrictive fencing with hedging. You could have the best hedgehog habitat in your garden, but as many modern houses are enclosed by fencing, hedgehogs just can’t get in. Now’s the time to help. Hedgehogs need our assistance with food and shelter sources now so they’re ready for hibernation later in the year.”
Gareth adds: “We’re promoting all of the native species of hedges which hogs love this month, such as Blackthorn, Dogwood and Hawthorn, as well as providing tips and advice on how to help hedgehogs in your garden to our customers. Even if replacing fencing, or part of it, with hedging and plants isn’t feasible, just cutting a small hole in your fence will help as you’ll open your garden up to hedgehogs. Helping the hedgehogs is an activity everyone can get involved in whilst the kids are off school – it’s free, it’s fun and gives great satisfaction when you welcome your first prickly visitor.”
Fay Vass, CEO of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, says: “As the name implies, hedgehogs love to hog hedges! Hedgerows provide ideal locations for hedgehog nesting sites as well as shelter for them to move safely from place to place. People can help hedgehogs by planting a mix of native, British-grown hedging trees or shrubs in their garden, which provide useful sources of food and shelter for the species as well as many other creatures such as insects, bats and birds.”
For more advice on choosing the best hedgehog hedging, visit Best4Hedging’s blog, where you can also learn how to be in with a chance of winning a wildlife-friendly hedging bundle for your very own garden. For child-friendly hedgehog-helping activities, including becoming a Hedgehog Champion, visit Hedgehog Street – a campaign created by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and People’s Trust for Endangered Species to encourage hedgehog conservation action at a neighbourhood level.
As you can see from all the photos dotted throughout this blogpost, we've been lucky enough to have a couple of close encounters with hedgehogs (you can find out more here and here). The kids got really excited both times so this really is a lovely project to get involved in.
Disclosure : We'll be receiving some hedgehog food so we'll hopefully have some more cute spiky visitors to tell you about soon !