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
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.