MORE gardeners today are aware of the need to create both habitats but also places of refuge for insects and wildlife.

Even in the 20 years or so since I was a student I’ve noticed a step change in the level of importance many people place on the need to create a wildlife friendly garden, both from the point of view of reining in their use of chemicals but also plants that are great for pollinators.

Running alongside this shift in attitudes has been the prevalence and popularity of bug or insect ‘hotels’ If your local school is fortunate enough to have a garden then there’s a strong likelihood a bug hotel of some form would make an appearance, for many of us (myself included) this was where I first saw one.

In recent years they have been integral parts of highly designed show gardens for the major flower shows in the UK and further afield.

The design of a bug hotel is entirely personal, you can seek inspiration from a whole raft of designs. In fact, spend more than a few minutes trawling social media or the web at large for images and you’ll be bombarded with a tsunami of construction ideas ranging from the humble to the extravagant.

There is no right or wrong, some are far easier to replicate but irrespective of the demands of the design, the fundamentals of what you’re creating remain the same; namely to provide a dry, covered space in which overwintering insects and small mammals can take cover either individually or in groups.

A little over two years ago we built a vegetable garden made using new ‘railway sleepers and the layout of the beds suggested the need to have something as a focal point at the far end of the garden. After a typically energetic conversation with our kids it was decided that a bug hotel would look good. I was determined to make something using the surplus off cuts from the beds and utilise material we had lying around on site including old roofing tiles, wire mesh, terracotta pots and various sections of redundant irrigation pipe.

The resulting ‘hotel’ is grandiose in appearance but was pretty simple to assemble using the angles you find marked on panel saws to create the pitched roof. The frame is sandwiched (and secured) between two raised beds making it incredibly stable. After that, the world is your oyster to create a collage of textures and pockets for nature. It was such fun to build and has made a truly unique focal point.

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