A stinker or not?

Homes for Wildlife

Homes for Wildlife
If you love the creatures in your garden, you'll love our Homes for Wildlife project. This is the place to ask and answer questions about making your backyard wildlife-friendly.

Gardening for wildlife

Follow the adventures of Adrian Thomas, our wildlife gardening expert, and be inspired to create your own wildlife haven on your doorstep. Adrian posts here every Monday and Friday without fail, so make it a date and drop by!

A stinker or not?

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Woohoo! Yesterday I was able to put in a whole day in the garden, which always brings such a feeling of fulfilment.

It would have been lovely to have done something very 'wildlifey'. But even the most ardent wildlife gardener must still turn their hand to all those structural and functional things that need doing, so myprimary task of the day was to dig in stepping stones all around my Woodland Garden.

I'd much prefer a bark path, but I have such a problem with cats toileting that to walk without having to watch every step will be so much more pleasurable.

The one splash of intense colour left in my Woodland Garden are the unfurled seedpods of Iris foetidissima. The bright orange berries seem to glow from their 'candied peel' pods

But here's the thing. My instinct is to see something with berries and leap to the conclusion that it must be good for wildlife. But the berries on Iris foetidissima are often there ALL winter until they shrivel. Birds and mice must surely notice them, but they're clearly not a great favourite.

It makes you realise that the best berry-bearing plants for wildlife are those where you hardly ever see the berries because they are gobbled up so quickly.

And even though this Iris is native to most of the southern half of Britain, it has another aspect that may make you think twice - snails seem to find a perfect home deep amongst the strap-like leaves.

So is it actualy a stinker for wildlife? Well, I continue to love it for two big reasons.

1) It grows where almost nothing else does in deep, dense, dry shade, the leaves looking fresh all winter.

And 2) the delicate, elegant, understated midsummer flowers are enjoyed by bees and ants. Here are four ants enjoying themselves in June this year 

And I don't find it stinks the place out either, so I'm going to continue to stick with it, and with its alternative name of Gladdon!


  • You're right! And I bet I have some fearsome centipedes too, knowing my garden!

  • Perhaps you did do something ‘wildlifey’, I bet you will have an ants nest under at least one of your stepping stones next year.

  • Perhaps you did do something ‘wildlifey’, I bet you will have an ants nest under at least one of your stepping stones next year.