It has been a little while since I have mentioned hedgehog visits in my garden. I have continued to put food and water out but it hasn't always been taken. The nights are getting colder and I am very aware that our hedgehog may be preparing to hibernate for the winter. We had planned to make a hedgehog house but our time has been limited over the last couple of weekends.
Today I looked at a Hedgehog House in a pet shop but I couldn't bring myself to buy it - I still wanted to make our own. If we couldn't build one with wood I wanted to use materials already in my garden and had an idea how it could work. I am delighted to say that today I managed to do exactly that and I am absolutely thrilled with the finished result. Naturally, I hope any passing hedgehogs will be too!
Step 1 : The hedgehog would need to keep dry over the winter so why not use the plastic box I used as a feeding station. You can see in the photo above, taken on September 25th, that the hedgehog is happy to go in it. I am guessing there should be enough room for it to make a warm space to hibernate.
Step 2 : The Hedgehog needs to keep warm so I swept up dried leaves and tucked them around the sides of the box as a layer to trap air as you can see in the photos above. I also chose a sheltered spot so harsh winter winds shouldn't cool the box. I tucked it along to the end of a very small path leading into the original rockery of my garden. I originally made this path for my children to explore when they were toddlers! The large keystone at the front on the left was intended for them to sit on. I will guess that any passing hedgehogs will climb over it!
The photo below, taken in 2000, shows the layout of this area although the planting is a lot different now with small yak rhododendrons, grasses, penstemons, euphorbia, hostas, a pine tree, ferns and a lush ground covering of alpines. You can still see how the hedgehog could explore or climb over and along the edges. You can also see the hedge were it will get cover and too the wilder area in the background behind the trellis - this is where my Gunnera grows.
Step 3 : The fun part! I love being creative in my garden and although I want to encourage wildlife I do not want a totally wild garden. I like to create spaces that look interesting too - well at least to me anyway! The hedgehog won't be very fussy anyway as it doesn't have such good eyesight.
The top photo below shows my finished Hedgehog House. Not exactly a design I have seen in any books but I am really thrilled with how it blends into this area of my garden. I never planned to leave my box exposed and I had a spare strip of turf in need of a good home which I knew would make a great looking natural roof for my Hedgehog House. It would also keep the box warm.
I finally covered my box with three layers of turf and expect that the top layer will grow perfectly well. I let some pieces drape over the entrance and added two mossy rocks at either side of the entrance to lead the hedgehog in. I also added branches over the entrance to give it a bit of extra protection. I had one final thing to add - a generous scattering of sultanas at the entrance!
Extension required - well not exactly an extension but more of a porch. The last photo above was taken six days later when I added a tunnel to the entrance of my hedgehog house. I already had stones at the entrance then added a brick on the right side to hold a much larger flatter rock across the entrance. Why did I do this? Well, on reading my comments on this post about cats perhaps using my house I thought this was a worthwhile precaution. I also scattered lots more leaves around so now the hedgehog will have a bit of search to find it - may it will be more successful that way!
I have absolutely no idea if we will get any hedgehogs looking for a home now - perhaps they are already sorted. However it has been fun creating this area and I am certain some kind of wildlife will find its way in - I just hope it will be a hedgehog!
All photos above, unless otherwise stated, were taken in my garden on November 1st 2007.