Our wildlife gardening expert, Gill, is here with her top tips for making your garden wildlife friendly this autumn.
This year summer has merged slowly into autumn with both days and nights staying warm, with temperatures on average being 5 degrees above normal for this time of year. The spells of very wet and stormy weather in the latter part of October mean problems for wildlife as they prepare for winter.
This is one of the most untidy times of the year in the garden. Resist the temptation to go out and clear everything up. At this time of year wildlife will mainly need shelter from wet and windy weather. Providing easily accessible food after prolonged periods of bad weather is also important.
Resist too much cutting back of hedges and conifers as they provide good shelter in poor weather. The same applies to shrubs. Aim to have some mature Ivy in your garden. It flowers now and provides food and shelter for many species of wildlife. Ivy is also much easier to keep under control once it has matured.
Clear fallen leaves from paths, lawns and gravel areas and place right at the back of flower beds where the worms will dispose of them, nourishing the soil. Insects find shelter amongst the leaves and they will be a source of food for birds.
Autumn is a good time to clear debris from ponds and cut back vegetative growth. Leave the cuttings beside the pond for a day or two to allow creatures to escape back into the water. Make sure bird baths are clean and freshly topped up and remember water for mammals too.
Flowering plants often leave wonderful seed heads, providing much needed shelter for insects and in some cases seed for visiting birds. Time taken with a carefully tied in stake will protect the seed heads from all but the worst windy squalls. Keep dead heading flowers which encourages new ones, providing nectar for late insect stragglers. Get down to your local nursery and buy some autumn flowering perennials to fill in any gaps. Time also to think ahead and plant some bulbs for flowers for insects emerging in the spring.
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