The Wild Roof Garden

There’s many benefits of growing food at home on a balcony or window sill. One of these can be the chance to get a bit closer to wildlife. The variety of insect and animal visitors can be amazing! Here, writer Helen Babbs shares some of her experience and tips for encouraging wildlife to your small urban space. Thanks Helen!

My veg patch is a three metre square flat roof in Holloway, north London.  Once a blank grey square, I’ve turned it into an aerial, edible garden packed with various potted plants.  Knotted with climbing peas and beans, and scented with herbs and dotted with flowers, it’s a true living room where I can pick salad for lunch, and sun and moon bathe for hours. Read full post here.

Helen's food and wildlife balcony © Helen Babbs


I share the space with various creatures.  There are havoc-wreaking squirrels and hungry slugs and snails, but also welcome beetles, bees, butterflies, birds and even bats.  Bugs like undisturbed areas that are allowed to grow a little wild, while other creatures are attracted by specific plants or the promise of nesting materials and food.

Pollinators are drawn in by the nectar-rich likes of lavender and sweet-pea.  Runner bean, strawberry and potato flowers are also loved.  I’ve planted night blooming flowers like evening primrose and tobacco in a bid to attract moths.  Ladybirds eat my aphids, birds eat my slugs and bats pick off any biting mosquitoes.

My favourite visitors are a dishevelled blackbird and his lady wife.  He sits and sings on my fence posts, while she steals string from my bean poles.  Their efforts mean a space that’s sandwiched between the Camden and Holloway Roads is sound-tracked with birdsong as well as bus hum.

There’s something extra special about the wildlife and wild places found within a city sprawl.  The fact that nature can be vigorous and that a range of creatures can survive and even thrive in such a seething, heaving place as London is brilliant.  I love the fact my tiny rooftop kitchen garden has become a nature reserve of sorts.

Helen's notorious blackbird



Helen has just written a book about the glory of growing things and urban ecology.  It charts a year spent on her Holloway rooftop and adventures off into London’s wildernesses.  My Garden, the City and Me – Rooftop Adventures in the Wilds of London was published in June.  Read more at and

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