JOHN’S JOURNAL

Make Your Garden a Haven for Winter Wildlife

Winter can be a tough time for the wildlife, with the return of the frosts it’s great for us, the ground firms up, we can soon throw on another layer but all of our animals and feathered friends are left to their own devices, but there’s lots of things which we can do to help them out over the Winter months.

Encouraging wildlife into your garden is always a good thing and it will also help you win the battle against other unwanted wildlife, for example, mice and rats, slugs, snails, and all the little bugs like greenfly and whitefly! So it’s well worth investing some time in helping the friendly wildlife out. With many plants lying dormant for the winter months food can be few and far between so any plants in your garden with berries on will have great appeal, Skimmias, Hollies, and Cotoneaster are just a few which produce a crop of fruit not only looking attractive, but also providing a larder for our feathered friends.

Around the garden try not to be as tidy, it sounds a bit strange but leave lots of areas untouched after the plants have died down in the Autumn and the leaves have fallen, then you can add some twigs to the mix and this is the perfect place for hedgehogs to nestle down, allowing them to keep nice and warm without the worry of being seen by others, yes keep tidy around your house but anything away towards the fence lines leave be until the Spring months. 

Bird boxes and feeders are a very easy addition and you can easily make your own, or they’re never too expensive to buy, positioned around the house where you will see them is also an added attraction, keep them topped up, especially during the colder spells, don’t forget the butterflies and Bumblebees bees as well, simple bug houses will keep them nice and happy giving them somewhere to hibernate for the Winter months.

Bird baths can also make a great feature or focal point along with being practical so keep these topped up, the addition of a ping pong ball will stop them from freezing over and the same applies to your pond, keep it uncovered so any frogs and pondlife can freely move in and out and an old football will help prevent this from freezing over. 

Evergreen bushes and hedges are a great home for birds to also build nests, giving them the security and privacy from prowling cats and four-legged friends! They can also make a valuable screen from neighbouring houses and also help keep the garden he green through the dormant months, however there are some late flowering perennials, Schizostylis are still in full bloom with their showy white, pink or red flowers!

So there’s a few things to think of there and all of them don’t take much work and the results will help bring your garden to life throughout the Winter months and make it a haven for wildlife!

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Here you can send in and find out the answers to those gardening problems?

 

Do I need to protect pot plants from frost?

Any hardy plants will be absolutely fine, even winter bedding is used to the frost, it will however see some plants off like Winter Cabbages or Bedding Cyclamen as these aren’t fully hardy, however they do look great up until that point! Make sure you give some frost protection to any Bay trees or Olive trees in pots, simply wrap some insulation/fleece around the roots and you can then dress this off with Hessian.

Should I stay off my lawn when it’s frosty?

Yes thats very true, walking over a frosty lawn can damage the blades of grass and cause them to snap and break, and it will then turn a little brown, it won’t kill it but it just looks a little unsightly.

Can I trim off old Hellebore leaves?

Any of the ones where the flower stems come directly form the ground then yes you can now trim off the old leaves, this will then help the flowering stems stand out and the old leaves can also look a little tarnished at this time of year anyway, if they’re covered in black spots and marks put them in the wheelie bin rather than the compost heap.

JOBS FOR THE WEEKEND

1 – EMPTY TERRACOTTA WATER FEATURES

If you have any feature terracotta pots converted into water features now is the time to empty them before the hard frosts arrive

2 – PLANT FRAGRANT WINTER SHRUBS

There’s lots of varieties which have highly perfumed flowers, Sarcococca, Hamamelis, Jasmine and Lonicera to name a few

3 –PLAN NEXT YEARS CROPS AND SEEDS

It’s a good time to sit down and begin a plan for next years vegetable crops, it’s still fresh in your mind and it’s the best way to succeed

4 – CHECK TREE TIES

Check any newly planted trees are securely tied ready for any Winter gales and storms

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Picea albertiana ‘Conica’

A delightful conifer which has a lovely bushy habit and is perfect for a miniature Christmas Tree. You can simply wrap the pots in hessian for a more decorative touch and then place them either side of doors, on tables or simply in a corner, they will be happy inside as long as you water them regularly and then place them back outside again in the New Year.