Books and websites useful for wildlife gardeners
By Steve Head Reviewed by Forum Trustees
For transparency, books and sites by Forum Trustees or Patrons are in dark green.
No nettles required: the reassuring truth about wildlife gardening. Ken Thompson. 2006 Eden Project books A brilliant readable and funny account of the Sheffield University BUGS project. Highly recommended)
The ecology of a garden: The first fifteen years. Jennifer Owen 1991. Cambridge University Press Very important scientific analysis, it changed our perception of the importance of gardens for wildlife.
Wildlife of a garden: A Thirty-Year Study. Jennifer Owen 2010. RHS. Her more readable and well -illustrated follow-up. Pretty much required reading!
Urban Ecology: Patterns, processes and applications. Jari Niemelä (ed) 2001, Oxford University Press. Thorough technical analysis of all aspects of city ecology and environment.
Urban Ecology. Kevin Gaston (ed) 2010. Cambridge University Press. Stronger focus than above on biodiversity
The Living Garden: A Practical Guide to Gardening the Natural Way. Geoff Hamilton and Jennifer Owen 1992 BBC Books A general introduction to how gardens “work”, but with a good science base
RSPB Gardening for Wildlife. Adrian Thomas 2010/2017. The best overall introduction at present
How to make a wildlife garden. Chris Baines. 2000 Frances Lincoln. Forum Patron Chris Baines started it all, and this is still worth reading
Garden Natural History. Stefan Buczacki 2007 Collins New Naturalist. 324pp A bit dogmatic in places, but it is a full overall acount
Wildlife Gardening for Everyone. Malcolm Tait (ed) 2006 Think Books. Backed by the RHS and Wildlife Trusts, sections by many authors
The Naturalist’s Garden. John Feltwell 1987, Ebury Press. An interesting historical take
The Biology of Lakes and Ponds. Christer Brönmark and Lars-Anders Hansson. 1998 Oxford University Press. pp216. Readable scientific introduction to the ecology of still fresh waters.
The Pond Book: a Guide to Management and Creation of Ponds. P Williams et al. 1999, Pond Conservation, Oxford. The best science based advice
The Wildlife Pond Handbook. Louise Bardsley. 2003. New Holland. A very good book, well informed by the above, and more practical
Planting and management
Gardening for Butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects. Jan Miller-Klein. Saith Fynnon Books. Good on food plants and habitat creation by an ex-Trustee
Gardening for butterflies. Margaret Vickery 1998. Butterfly Conservation. Good simple introduction
Plants for Bees: A Guide to the Plants that Benefit the Bees of the British Isles. W.D.J. Kirk and F.N. Howes. 2012 International Bee Research Association. 311pp. Important in dealing in detail with the needs of bumble and solitary bees as well as honey bees.
The Book of Weeds: How to deal with plants that behave badly. Ken Thompson 2009 Doring Kindersley. Written in Ken’s inimitable style, a fun guide to garden weeds that makes you rather like them.
Wildlife Friendly Plants. Rosemary Creeser. 2004 Firefly Books. A starter book, but don’t assume plants not in here are not beneficial. These plants actively attract birds and nectar feeders
Creating small habitats for wildlife in your garden. Josie Briggs. 2002. Guild of Master Craftsman Publications Ltd 183pp
My Side of the Fence: The Natural History of a Surrey Garden. Jeremy Early 2013. Published by Jeremy Early. 30 Park Lane East, Reigate RH2 8HN. Substantial and interesting account of one person’s garden observations.
Insects of Britain and Western Europe. Michael Chinery, 2012 A & C Black; 3rd Revised edition The favourite book for most amateur bug-hunters
The Complete Garden Wildlife book. Mark Golley 2006 The Wildlife Trusts. A well-illustrated but rather basic introduction to the main groups.
Garden Wildlife of Britain and Europe. Michael Chinery 2001. Collins Nature Guides
RSPB Handbook of Garden Wildlife. Peter Holden and Geoffrey Abbott. 2008 RSPB
Guide to Garden Wildlife. Richard Lewington. 2008 British Wildlife Publishing.
(all these three are on the same theme covering all groups. I think Lewington's book is the best)
Garden Birds and Wildlife. Mike Toms and Dr Paul Sterry 2008 BTO/AA Publishing. Large and lavish, but very good indeed on birds, not bad on the rest
Small Freshwater Creatures. Lars-Henrik Olsen, Jacob Sunesen and Bente Vita Pedersen. 2001 Oxford University Press. Very useful basic guide.
Green infrastructure and health
Landscape and Urban design for Health and Well-Being: Using healing, Sensory and Therapeutic Gardens. Gayle Souter-Brown 2015. 318pp Routledge
Carbon footprint and garden sustainability
How to Garden the Low Carbon way. 2021 Sally Nex RHS/ Dorling Kindersley Ltd
Wild about Gardens website www.wildaboutgardens.org
Probably the best general garden wildlife site to date, by the RHS and Wildlife Trusts
List of local natural history societies:
The Pollinator Garden
Marc Carlton’s excellent compendium of advice and plant lists
Wildlife Gardening with Jenny Steel. www.wildlife-gardening.co.uk
Beautifully illustrated, useful sections and a blog. Jenny also runs courses and has published several short guides.
A web based community project backed by the Open University to help identify creatures you find, including in the garden
OPAL (Open Air Laboratories Network) www.opalexplorenature.org
A great web-based organisation helping ordinary people become citizen scientists and explore nature in their own area. Lots of guides and projects.
Garden BioBlitz www.gardenbioblitz.org/ID_help_gbb.html
There is lots of helpful advice on this site which promotes garden wildlife surveys. There is a very complete list of species identification resources in Richard Comont's list of useful websites
For American readers:
Thanks to Anabel for recommending this! Please let us know of other good American websites to add.