Late flowering plants are essential sources of nectar for insects including butterflies and bees who are still foraging at this time of the year. Martyn Loach suggests five plants that will make your garden wildlife friendly into the autumn.
Hedgehogs are a lot like people, they love a dry, cozy place to live and in the colder months prefer to shut the winter out and hibernate. Martyn Loach explains how to make a house that they can call home.
In the wild hedgehogs will collect leaves, grass, bracken and all manner of other material to build nests under hedgerows or logs. In the garden they may set up home under your shed or compost heap.
To encourage hedgehogs into your garden, you could buy a hedgehog house but with a little effort and a few bits of wood, they are not difficult to make.
The hedgehog house should be located in a quiet part of the garden, preferably against a wall or fence. The entrance should face south to avoid cold northerly winds.
A stout wooden crate perhaps 18ins square is a good starting point, but don't use any wood that has been creosoted.
Take a jig saw and cut an entrance at the base of one side measuring about 6ins x 6ins.
Drill a hole wide enough for a hose at the top of one side.
Place the box on two bits of wood or something similar to raise it slightly off the ground.
After lining the inside with dry leaves and newspaper, secure a removable lid to the top, this can be made of anything that is weatherproof.
Attach a tunnel made from timber and about 12ins long to the entrance.
Put a length of hose through the hole that you drilled for ventilation.
Give the box protection from the elements by covering with leaves and plastic sheeting (keeping the entrance clear and with the ventilation hose going through the plastic and pointing down).
It might be a while before any hedgehogs take up residence. If you have had no luck for a couple of years, think about re-locating the house to a more favourable place.
In the spring any hedgehogs should emerge looking for food. After they have checked out of the hedgehog house you can clean up after them using Pyrethrum, sometimes called nature's insecticide.
The hedgehog house will then be ready for its next family to take up residence.
With Christmas rapidly approaching, our New Oscott Garden Centre has just taken delivery of that most seasonal of plants – the Poinsettia. These are David Hall's tips on to how to keep these beautiful plants at their colourful best.
Our garden centre has been part of the local community for over 60 years, so when one of our partners, David Coton, received a request to donate a Christmas tree to a nearby hospice, he had no hesitation in helping them out.
Many people believe that Christmas would not have the same festive feel without the scent of a 'real' Christmas tree. They're naturally fresh, giving off a lovely aroma, and here Martyn Loach gives advice on which ones to buy..
There's a huge selection of Premier Christmas Lights, and it's no wonder why they are market leaders judging by the variety and innovation that's on offer. This is Andy Taylor's guide to their range of top quality lights and decorations.