Help your wildlife

9 October 2020

It’s Autumn and so many of us like to get busy cutting down all our fading perennials. But please think about your wildlife, tidiness is not good for your wildlife! Leaving perennial and herbaceous plants intact over winter can become a refuge for small mammals, birds and insects. Clumps of ornamental grasses for example can become the perfect snug for a hibernating hedgehog, while seed heads are a rich source of food for many of our garden birds and hollow plant stems are perfect shelter for many invertebrates.

Letting the grass and weeds grow is our first pledge for wildlife, see them all here.

16 October 2020

The hedges and trees seem to be heavy with fruit and nuts at this time of year, however with the constant loss of valuable habitat and ever increasing growth of urban areas, food can quickly become hard to find. Feeding the birds now and continuing through the winter gives our precious local birds a lifeline they can depend on in the harshest months when many of our tiny birds have to eat their body weight every day to survive the cold nights. Imagine having to eat around 24 burgers every day! If the local wren, blue tit and robin can depend on your well stocked feeder, they have every chance of surviving to the winter.

Feeding the birds is our second pledge for wildlife, see them all here.

23 October 2020

As the nights get darker and colder, a lot of our familiar wildlife enjoyed throughout the summer start to disappear. Some birds migrate, some mammals hibernate, but did you know many of our minibeasts also go into a type of hibernation known as diapause? The fantastic variety of minibeasts, including many solitary bees, ladybirds, as well as iconic butterflies like the Peacock and Red Admirals living in your garden need somewhere to hide away and snuggle up to survive. During this period of diapause, their temperature drops and their heart rate slows as they sleep, but shelter to safely do this can be hard to find in tidy gardens.

Building a minibeast hotel is our third pledge for wildlife, see them all here.

30 October 2020

Most of our garden’s perennials are fading but you can sow seeds now that will mature into nectar rich flowers in the spring and summer; Oxeye daisy, Papaver, Primrose, Red campion, Rose campion and Scabiosa seeds can all be sown in your borders now and feed butterflies and bees next year! Letting ivy thrive in your garden will also provide an abundant surprising source of nectar at this time of year for late flying bees, such as the carder bee.

Growing plants butterflies and bees will love is our fourth for wildlife, see them all here.

6 November 2020

If you don’t have a bird bath or other source of water, now is a great time to get one. The wildlife visiting our gardens need water, especially through the winter when natural sources such as streams and ponds may be frozen. Birds lose water through respiration and in their droppings, most small birds need to drink at least twice a day to replace the lost water. Most birds drink by dipping their bill in water and throwing their head back to swallow, whilst pigeons and doves are able to immerse their beaks and can drink continuously, either way it is great fun to watch. It is important if you do decide to provide a source of water through the winter, to make sure it stays defrosted, you could just pop out after your morning cuppa and poor on some boiling water. Water for wildlife is our fifth pledge for wildlife, see them all here.

13 November 2020

When the frosty nights get here, give a thought to our little garden friends. Bird boxes that were used to raise families in the spring, can become safe and warm roosts for our tiny birds like wrens, 100 of which have been recorded huddled together to keep warm. Though your nest box will likely accommodate less birds, it could be an important retreat from the cold. However most old bird boxes contain fleas and other parasites, which can remain in the nest through the winter and into the following spring. It’s therefore important to remove old nests and clean out nest boxes in autumn and before the frosts get here! Give birds a home is our sixth pledge for wildlife, see them all here.

20 November 2020

Along with our garden birds, live mammals from the big badgers and cunning foxes to the little shrews and nervy mice. You would be very lucky indeed to have one of big ones in your garden and anyway they tend to take care of themselves, living together in cosy burrows. Foxes will actually move in with badgers to keep warm through the winter. It is again our smaller friends we have to think of, hedgehogs at this time of year are working hard to fatten up before hibernation. When they are round enough they will retreat to their nests usually made of mosses, grass, leaves and other garden debris and found at the base of thick hedges, under thick bramble bushes, garden sheds or piles of rubbish. If you suspect you have a hedgehog nest, please don’t disturb it. An untidy area in the garden full of dead wood and leaves will likely house all kinds of small mammals for the winter, so please don’t be tempted to tidy your garden too much! Giving mammals a home is our seventh pledge for wildlife, see them all see them all here.

27 November

If you are replacing or planting a new barrier this year, please remember our little hedgehog pals who can roam between 1-2km each night! It is thought that one of the reasons for their sad decline has been our human obsession of fortifying our gardens and outdoor spaces with impenetrable fences and walls. Hedgehogs need only a 13 x 13cm (5 x 5”) hole, which is too small for most pets. Now is a good time to chat to your neighbours and if they are willing create a hedgehog highway! It is slightly easier to do this in winter when there are fewer leaves on the trees and shrubs. Then sit back wait for spring to wake up your local hedgehogs to discover your garden through your new hedgehog hole! Creating a hedgehog highway is our eighth pledge for wildlife, see them all here.

4 December

Please stop and think before using slug pellets, the slimiest ones of your garden are not the only ones that suffer. Slug pellets can appear appealing to cats and dogs, they contain many of the same blends of cereal (as bulk) that make up cat or dog food, all of which is not ideal when slug pellets are extremely poisonous! Birds and hedgehogs are attracted to slug pellets for similar reasons to those of domesticated pets, but because these animals tend to be smaller, even the slightest amount of exposure to the poisonous pellets can prove fatal. As well as this primary poisoning of our valuable wildlife, the main predators of slugs in the UK; hedgehogs, frogs and birds can suffer from secondary poisoning as the dangerous chemical, Metaldehyde (the active ingredient in slug pellets) enters the food chain. Back in 2018 it was announced that slug pellets containing Methaldehyde were to be banned, this decision was sadly overturned 12 months later, it remains therefore a decision we have to make. So please help protect our wildlife and do not use slug pellets, ’stop using weed killers and slug pellets’ is our ninth pledge for wildlife, see them all here.

9 December

It’s not likely that you’re still working in the garden at this time of year but spring will be upon us again before you know it. When you’re back in the garden centre, please look for peat-free compost, peatlands are incredibly important and an increasingly rare habitat in the UK and across Europe. Healthy peatlands are amazingly wild places, home to birds, insects and unusual plants that aren't found anywhere else! It this uncertain time of climate change, we all have to consider doing our bit. The UK’s peatlands store around 3.2 billion tonnes of carbon, carbon that would otherwise end up in the atmosphere and contribute to global climate change. Whats more there are lots of alternatives these days, so please buy peat-free compost, which is our tenth pledge for wildlife, see them all here.