This week: Do­ing a few key tasks now will get your gar­den ready for spring, sug­gests

Kathy Vi­vian

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - GREEN SPACES - Mike Iseard works as a De­vel­op­ing Green Tal­ent trainee with the Berk­shire, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT)

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

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