Bird-friendly exhibit at Hampton Court

An exhibit at the world?s largest annual flower show will demonstrate how to attract, protect and feed birds in small city gardens.

With a number of garden species in decline, as highlighted in the latest ?State of UK birds? report, there is a growing need to create more bird-friendly spaces in cities.

Numbers of garden birds, such as sparrows and starlings, have been falling rapidly over the past few decades and a root cause of this is their loss of habitat, especially in cities.

Earlier this year, the RHS launched a new campaign called Greening Grey Britain**, after a survey found that three times as many front gardens are now paved over compared to 10 years ago ? more than 5 million front gardens, including half of all front gardens in London, now have no plants growing in them.

Designer Sarah Keyser, wants to demonstrate that small and inexpensive steps can be taken to help make urban spaces more bird-friendly, without compromising on style.

She said: ?Urban gardens need to include plants that allow wildlife to thrive. For example, the Sedum turf in the ?City Twitchers? garden is inhabited by bugs and wildlife which in turn feeds the birds. Plants providing seeds and berries are a plus, along with bird feeders and hedges that offer protection.

?We really need to act now to help our birds. RHS Greening Grey Britain has highlighted a key reason why numbers are falling ? because we?re concreting over our gardens so there?s nowhere for them to go, or find food.

?My garden is full of ideas to take home to your own garden. It doesn?t take much to make a big difference.?

The garden, called ?City Twitchers? and sponsored by Living Landscapes, contains a spherical bird hide, created from woven willow that provides a stylish bird-watching spot.

A Chamomile and Sedum lawn that attracts birds, as well as nourishing insects, and provides an ideal place to nest. There are bird boxes throughout the garden providing shelter, bird feeders and a bird bath.

The latest ?State of UK Birds? report, an annual piece of research led by the RSPB, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), revealed that starling numbers have dropped by more than half, house sparrows have decreased by 65%, tree sparrows by 90% and song thrush numbers declined by 58% between 1970 and 2012.

Harry Bellew, RSPB spokesperson, said: ?Many garden birds are in desperate need of our help and rely on us for survival. Throughout the year, birds need food and water, and as well as subsistence, a safe place to shelter and make their home can really give them a boost.

?Gardens that provide these things are an invaluable resource for birds and are likely to have a significant effect on their numbers, perhaps even playing a pivotal role in reversing some declines so we hope people are inspired by the ?City Twitchers? garden to give nature a home where they live.?

Also at the show, Professor Nigel Dunnett has created the RHS Community Street feature which is a walk-through, immersive experience championing Greening Grey Britain and highlighting the science behind the need to green up our grey spaces.

The RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show runs from 30 June ? 5 July. For further information or to buy tickets, please visit the RHS website at www.rhs.org.uk/hamptoncourt

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