As you clear the gar­den for win­ter spare a thought for the wildlife

SARA MILNE, of the Royal Hor­ti­cul­tural So­ci­ety, ex­plains why you might start see­ing more birds in your gar­den in the com­ing weeks

Ashbourne News Telegraph - - GARDENING -

NOVEM­BER is main­te­nance month in the gar­den, get­ting ev­ery­thing ready for win­ter.

Clear­ing leaves and cut­ting back dead growth is the or­der of the day. But be­fore you cut back dead seed heads and berries, and start bed­ding your out­side space down for the win­ter, just spare a thought for some of the gar­den wildlife that rely on you be­ing just a lit­tle bit lazy when it comes to gar­den main­te­nance.

Short win­ter days mean that the birds are ex­tra ac­tive in the day­light hours to en­sure they get enough food to sur­vive the cold nights.

Scarcity of nat­u­ral food means that sup­ple­men­tary feed­ing in ad­di­tion to what they can find in the gar­den can re­ally help – so your bird feed­ing sta­tions are likely to be ex­tra pop­u­lar.

Re­mem­ber to keep them well topped up or cre­ate new ones. Fat balls are a par­tic­u­larly good source of calo­ries in win­ter, when birds use huge amounts of en­ergy to stay warm at night – and you can make a sim­ple feeder by us­ing small ter­ra­cotta pots packed with fat balls. Just fol­low these sim­ple steps from Gar­den­ers’ World…

You will need: Small ter­ra­cotta pots (11cm in di­am­e­ter); Wire (ap­prox­i­mately 50cm long); Wire cut­ters; Twigs; Se­ca­teurs; Fat balls (roughly three per small pot).

And then: Use the se­ca­teurs to cut a piece of twig that will fit across the base of the pot. Wrap a length of wire around the twig, leav­ing enough to hang the pot with later. Clean the pots with a weak dis­in­fec­tant so­lu­tion and rinse thor­oughly. Feed the wire through the drainage hole in the base of the pot, en­sur­ing that the twig fits snugly in­side. Turn the pot over and pack the in­side tightly with fat balls. Fold the wire and loop it onto a longer piece, hang­ing from a branch. Hang the feeder singly or group it with oth­ers.

So that’s the birds seen to, now for the rest of the gar­den.

If pots and con­tain­ers are just part of your out­side space then here are some gar­den­ing tips for this month from the RHS (Royal Hor­ti­cul­tural So­ci­ety) then: Clear up fallen leaves espe­cially from lawns, ponds and beds; Raise con­tain­ers onto pot feet to prevent wa­ter­log­ging; Plant tulip bulbs for a spring dis­play next year; Prune roses to prevent wind-rock; Plant out win­ter bed­ding; Pre­pare the green­house for win­ter; In­su­late out­door con­tain­ers from frost – bub­blewrap works well; Stop win­ter moth dam­age to fruit trees us­ing grease bands around the trunks; Put out bird food to en­cour­age win­ter birds into gar­den; Use a sea­sonal bon­fire – where this is al­lowed – to dis­pose of ex­cess de­bris un­fit for com­post­ing.

Birds are ex­tra ac­tive dur­ing the day as they look to get enough food for win­ter. In­set, wrap up plants and pots that could be dam­aged by the cold.

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