With an unmistakable drop in temperature, the leaves turning golden and brown, and the clocks turning back next weekend, autumn is definitely now upon us.
And whilst keen gardeners may look forward to a slower pace over the next few months, this is no time for our garden wildlife to rest.
Autumn welcomes a myriad of activity for birds, insects and garden mammals, as preparations for winter begins.
This can be a difficult time of year for our favourite garden visitors, so here are a few easy things that you can do to support your local wildlife over the next few months.
October is a quiet month for garden bird enthusiasts. Swallows and nightingales leave British shores for warmer African climes, where their daily diet of insects is available in abundance. They are joined by house martins, swifts and garden warblers, that promise to return in spring and summer.
Autumn’s hedgerows brim with blackberries and other ripe fruit, encouraging waxwings, starlings, jays and thrushes to migrate (albeit a somewhat shorter distance!) from our gardens in search of our countryside’s bounty.
But, once the cold snaps begin and the berry crop dwindles, our feathered friends will be back in our gardens in search of sustenance.
To help see your favourite garden birds through the coldest of seasons, always keep your bird feeders and bird tables stocked up with high-energy, high-fat winter fuel.
A bird bath is also ideal for providing a wide array of birds with a raised space away from predators, in which they can safely drink and bathe. Garden birds rely on clean, fresh water throughout the whole year and a stone bird bath will comfortably withstand even the harshest conditions that winter may bring.
Finally, don’t be tempted to chop back the dead seed heads of your once glorious sunflowers. These make a tasty, autumnal snack for hungry garden birds.
Giving your garden a thorough tidy-up before the winter begins may feel tempting. But avoiding cutting back and pruning too much will positively support your garden wildlife at this time of year.
Decaying plants and fallen autumnal leaves provide a safe and cosy shelter for garden mammals such as hedgehogs, voles, shrews and mice. Insects will also appreciate the the hollowed stems of attractive perennial flowers such as alliums, hollyhock and lupins, where they will seek refuge from frosts and rain.
Generous gardeners can offer 5* treatment to creepy crawlies of all kinds by installing a bug hotel. This doesn’t need to be anything fancier than placing a pile of dead wood in a quiet garden corner and covering it with fallen leaves and branches. But if you have time, why not build a simple, bespoke bug hotel yourself. Read our Easy Activities To Do With The Kids Today blog for inspiration:It's a Bug's Life
Container planting brings many benefits during autumn. As well as offering low maintenance, cheery garden interest after the summer, it provides hard working gardeners with a slow segue into the depths of winter.
With nectar and pollen starting to become short in supply, opting for insect-loving container plants is a great way of supporting your garden’s eco-system. Not only will over-wintering pollinators such as bees, butterflies and moths benefit as flowering plants dwindle during the autumn, but they will in turn become food for garden birds when they return to the British shores.
Late-flowering nectar plants including winter heather, cyclamen persicum, sedum, purple aster, pansies, winter aconites and Christmas rose are perfect autumn container plants. What’s more, planting hellebores, muscari, anemome, crocus and snowdrops in your planters, troughs and urns during the autumn will provide a haven for pollinators the following spring.
Ivy is also a great addition to the garden and your containers at this time of year. The flowers of this robust plant begin to blossom in autumn, providing nectar for pollinators. What’s more, ivy’s ruby red berries offer a calorie-rich source of food for garden birds as well.
Providing fresh, clean water throughout autumn and winter will help your garden wildlife to thrive.
If you have a pond or pool surround it’s important to remove any garden debris or fallen leaves. Left unchecked, these will rot and overload the nutrient balance of your water feature with harmful substances, which are toxic to fish and garden wildlife alike.
Cleaning your bird bath regularly will prevent a build-up of unsightly grime, which can also be harmful to your garden birds. But, beware of using chemical cleaners, which are poisonous to our feathered friends, so keep your bird bath clean using a non-toxic cleaner or vinegar instead.
To ensure your garden birds have a continuous supply of fresh water during mild periods of frost, simply place a tennis ball into your fountain bowl or bird bath. This will prevent the water from freezing by gently and continually agitating its surface.
Haddonstone’s wide range of bird baths, bird tables and planters work well in any garden setting, whatever the time of year.
Our friendly and experienced team are available to help you choose the perfect designs for your outside space.
Request a call back with a member of our team and we will be in touch with you as soon as possible:Request a call back
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