Your Wildlife Gardening Gateway

Books and Websites

...bringing nature closer to home

By Steve Head                            Reviewed by Forum Trustees


For transparency, books and sites by Forum Members are in dark red.



Garden Science

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


General Guides

RSPB Gardening for Wildlife.  Adrian Thomas 2010.  The best overall introduction at present


How to make a wildlife garden. Chris Baines. 2000 Frances Lincoln. Chris 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 scientific analysis


Wildlife Gardening for Everyone. Malcolm Tait (ed)  2006  Think Books. Backed by the RHS and wildlife trusts, lots of good stuff


The Naturalist’s Garden. John Feltwell 1987, Ebury Press. Interesting historical take



The Biology of Lakes and Ponds. Christer Brönmark and Lars-Anders Hansson. 1998 Oxford University Press. pp216. Readable introduction to the ecology of still fresh waters.


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


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


Personal account

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.


Identification Guides

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 on the same theme, 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




Wild about Gardens website  Probably the best general garden wildlife site to date, by the RHS and Wildlife Trusts


BUGS project results


Garden wildlife website


List of local natural history societies:


Flora Locale's list of reliable sources of native plants .


The Pollinator Garden. Marc Carlton’s excellent compendium of advice and plant lists


Wildlife Gardening with Jenny Steel . Beautifully illustrated, useful sections and a blog. Jenny also runs courses and has published several short guides.


Ispot 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) A great web-based organisation helping ordinary people become citizen scientists and explore nature in their own area.  Lots of guides and projects.


Field Studies Council Lots of natural history courses and identification guides.


Garden BioBlitzThere is lots of helpful advice on this site and a very complete list of species identification resources in Richard Comont's list of useful