From a blank canvas lawn to a wildlife sanctuary, Clarke Joss is leading the way in a revolution to turn new-build gardens throughout the north and north-east into horticultural havens.
Ladybirds, honeybees and butterflies are just some of the daily visitors Clarke and his fiancée Lucy now welcome into the garden of their townhouse at Barratt Home’s Westburn Gardens in Aberdeen after transforming their outdoor space into a nature-friendly paradise.
Inspired by Nature on Your Doorstep, a campaign run by wildlife charity the RSPB in partnership with Barratt Developments Scotland to encourage homeowners to give their garden a mini-makeover for nature, the couple now regularly see birds including robins, finches and blue tits, while their plants attract honey bees, hoverflies and bumblebees.
“We’ve planted a maple tree in the corner, with a bird feeder at the top to attract wildlife, as well as three buddleias (butterfly bushes), one in each corner of the garden, which have already started attracting butterflies to the property,” said Clarke.
“I also introduced ladybirds to the garden.”
It was during lockdown when Clarke, 41, who works as a wedding photographer, first started getting green fingers.
“I’ve always been interested in the natural world, growing up in Indonesia where I was fascinated by the wildlife and scenery, but had never had the time to cultivate my own gardening skills,” said Clarke.
For the birds, as well as a still water bath, Clarke has also added a waterfall to the garden for birds to access fresh water.
Keen to encourage other homeowners to do their bit for nature, Clarke says people can start by creating a bug hotel or by putting dead leaves and mulch behind borders to create as many habitats as possible for a variety of wildlife.
Together with Clarke’s advice, the RSPB has produced a handy new guide with simple, low-cost hints and tips on how to make a space great for people and nature too.
David Palmer, who is the managing director of Barratt and David Wilson Homes North Scotland, hopes Clarke will inspire more homeowners to do their bit for nature.
“One of the easiest ways to help wildlife is on your doorstep,” said David.
“This is why we give new homeowners lots of information and guidance on how they can turn their blank canvas gardens into something wonderful that will look beautiful and help nature too.
“If we could harness every garden in the country to look after wildlife more it would make a massive difference.”
Sarah Brompton, RSPB Actions for Nature project manager, is appealing for homeowners like Clarke to share their mini garden makeover stories and experiences using the hashtag #NatureGardenChallenge on social media.
“There are so many ways we can all be using our outdoor spaces to give nature a home, whether that’s by planting plants for pollinators or making a bug hotel,” said Sarah.
“And the great news is that it makes these places such a joy for us as well – a visit from a hedgehog is bound to bring a smile to every face, and there’s something quite special about seeing a robin foraging in the snow.
“Together we can make our outdoor spaces a true haven for us, and for nature.”