This week: Doing a few key tasks now will get your garden ready for spring, suggests
to explore and interact with the environment at College Lake – as we found out when we tested the trail last weekend!
The QR trail starts in the Visitor Centre with fossilised remains of mammoth tusks that were found in the chalk quarry at College Lake.
The trail continues to the Woodland Theatre where families can play Wildlife Charades and then spend a few minutes watching birds on the feeders outside the Barn.
Although children are likely to run between each of the 10 posts where the QR code is displayed, I’ve created space for them to stop and listen to the natural sounds of rustling leaves, birds singing and the wind in the trees.
Many of the BBOWT volunteers at College Lake helped me to design and create the QR trail, making recordings of the bizarre sounds of bats, and researching and taking beautiful and vibrant photographs of the birds here.
The QR trail will be launched over half-term with a free College Lake QR Quest on 17, 18 and 19 February, and there’s a chance for the person who solves a mysterious puzzle to win a prize.
Discover the QR trail and more at College Lake: www.bbowt.org.uk/collegelake AIM to finish pruning hedges into shape this month before birds start looking for nesting sites, so as to avoid disturbing them. Most deciduous and hardy evergreen hedges (including yew) can be cut back hard now, if necessary.
However, it is better to trim other conifers little and often as they don’t respond well to hard pruning. Overgrown or poorly-shaped deciduous shrubs and trees can also be pruned back into shape now.
February is a good time to prune shrubs that flower late in the summer.
Examples are the butterfly bush (Buddleja) and hardy fuchsias that flower in summer on stems that have grown since the spring. Cut down almost to the ground, just leaving one or two buds to each stem. This will create a neater plant with plenty of flowers.
If you have a clematis that flowers late in the summer, prune now to about 30cm from the ground, just above two buds. Handle the stems carefully as they are quite brittle.
Perennials and ornamental grasses that were left to provide winter interest can be cut down now.
Bulbs and tubers for summer flowers such as lilies and dahlias are available now in garden centres. They can be planted in pots of compost and grown in a cool, light place under cover and planted outside once the danger of frost is over.
If you are planning to grow vegetables this year, you can start planting earlier if you warm the soil first by covering with polythene or cloches.
It is more important than ever to provide food for garden birds this month as their natural food becomes scarce.
New bird boxes can be put up now, giving the birds time to get used to them before the nesting season begins. Kathy Vivian is a local garden designer with an interest in gardening to attract beneficial wildlife.
See www.kathyviviangarden design.com or KathyVivgarden on Facebook and Twitter. Kathy also writes a regular blog on her website.
Children enjoying the QR trail