Did you know that the hedgehog population in the UK has fallen by 30% and there are indeed, only about 1 million wild hedgehogs now roaming the hedgerows of our countryside? With the focus very much on preserving and protecting the environment, it’s worth considering what we do and how we can help increase bio-diversity to protect our spiky little friends!
The hedgehog (erinaceious europaeus), is a native of the UK, but there are around 14 different species globally. They can travel up to 2km in search of food and are cracking little swimmers too!
As they are nocturnal and hibernate in winter, it’s quite a rare treat to see one. When they emerge from hibernation around Easter time, they naturally gorge on food ahead of the mating season, from April to September.
Their main diet comes in the form of snails, slugs, berries and invertebrates. It stands to reason then, that if we pay attention to where the hedgehog typically resides, we can help them survive and thrive. Our thorny little friends live mostly in hedgerows – hence the name hedgehog – they live in hedges and grunt like pigs!
So, what are the best edible hedge varieties that we can grow to keep our hedgehogs happy, well-nourished and ready for a bit of ‘va va voom’?
Here’s our top 11 best hedges for hedgehogs:
These hedge plants will provide shelter, security and sustenance for not only hedgehogs, but other wild mammals that inhabit our countryside. The Hawthorn, for instance, will grow very densely and is good for the hedgehog to build their nests. The Autumnal flowers produce juicy berries which the hogs will feed on.
The Elder produces black elderberries that are highly nutritious and the sea buckthorn provides an important source of winter food. The crab apple produces sour fruit in Autumn.
All of these hedges produce beautiful flowers in the Spring and Summer, which is another great bonus for your garden, and then in the Autumn, their beautiful, multi-coloured array of big fat juicy berries provide a complete and nutritious food source for our wildlife.
Because hedgehogs hibernate in winter, it’s important that we’re vigilant as to where their nests may be situated. Common places for hedgehogs to nest are under garden sheds or in log stores. If you have a compost heap, you may well find them snuggled up, all warm and comfy in it! That’s why it’s important to look carefully before you set light to any garden debris in the winter time.
When planting hedgerows for hedgehogs, it’s always a good idea to dig a shallow ditch along the planting line. This enables the hog to be able to drink from the ditch without the sides being too steep for them to climb back up again. Also, another tip is to try and build a sort of ‘hedgehog runway’, so that they can have free access to all of the hedgerow without having to ‘run the gauntlet’ and fear being caught by predators.
So, if you’re considering getting rid of your garden fencing in favour of a more sustainable, eco-friendly and hedgehog protective alternative, then planting a variety of wild hedging will offer up so many solutions.
We are HedgePlants – suppliers of container-grown, ready for planting hedging. We supply a large range and variety of hedging for your garden, from low maintenance hedging to topiary. Take a look at our website www.hedgeplants.com where you’ll find much information that will help you choose the right hedging for you and your garden.