With the arrival of Autumn and the sudden change of weather, many of us are turning our attention to tidying the garden for winter. Here are some tips that will help hedgehogs, insects and other creatures survive the coming months.
1. Safe Haven for Hedgehogs
To help this most endearing of creatures which has suffered a rapid decline in recent years, create a Hedgehog Highway through your garden by making a hole through fences or boundaries so hedgehogs can roam freely to find food. To provide a safe place for hedgehogs to hibernate, cut an entrance opening in the side of a plastic storage box, place upturned in a corner of the garden and cover with leaves. If later on you hear a loud snore, you can be sure a hedgehog has taken up residence!
In Bishopstone, hedgehogs are seen regularly, enjoying meat-based cat/dog food put out of an evening as seen here in the garden of Scaldback where Dennis and Rosemary live.
2. Leave a corner of the garden untidy
When you’re dead heading and tidying the garden, leave a wild patch so bumblebees, beetles, spiders, voles and other creatures can over-winter among the twigs and fallen leaves. It’s important to keep a bowl of water on the ground (eg a stone birdbath) as small mammals like a drink, and larger birds like blackbirds prefer to use a bath on the ground rather than in a more exposed higher position.
Fieldfare birds, seasonal visitors from Scandinavia, enjoy wind fall apples and can be coaxed into the garden when apples are left on the ground. Insects too love fallen fruit, leave some for them to feast on.
3. Plant bee friendly winter-flowering plants
Bumblebees, moths and other insects can struggle to find enough food to get through the winter so having plants that flower and provide nectar at that time of year is invaluable. Here are some autumn and winter-flowering plants that brighten the garden and provide an important food source:
Bulbs: Cyclamen Coum, Winter Aconites, Snowdrops, Crocuses
Perennials: Hellebores, Pulmonaria, Doronicum
Shrubs: Mahonia, Viburnum Tinus, Viburnum x bodnantense
Daphne Bholua, Daphne x odorata
Wintersweet – Chimonanthus, Winterbox – Sarcococca
Witch Hazel – Hamamelis, Winter Jasmine – Jasminum Nudiflorum
Winter Honeysuckle – Lonicera fragrantissima, Winter Heathers
Osmanthus, Winter flowering Clematis, Ivy