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.
On the weekend of 30 – 31 January it will be your chance to take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch. David Hall was one of half a million people who took part last year, recording a vital snapshot of nature in the UK.
Begun in 1979, and promoted by the RSPB, the survey results show which species may be at risk and need attention. Last year's data indicated that the numbers of starlings and song thrushes in steep decline. They are now on the 'red list', the highest conservation priority requiring urgent action.
Participation in the survey is free. All that's required is for you to take an hour noting down what species of bird there are in your garden and how many. If you don't have a garden, the local park or any green space can be an alternative location.
To get started, register your interest on the RSPB website and request a free information pack. You then choose one hour over the weekend to record the birds you see before submitting the results.
More than eight million birds were spotted in 2015 and this information is added the RSPB data bank. Over thirty years of figures can then be analyzed to determine trends and help our understanding of what is happening to our bird life and how we can help.
Take for example the decline in greenfinches that was highlighted last year. This was likely due to trichomonosis, and now the RSPB urge people to clean their feeders, bird baths and tables regularly to halt the spread of this disease.
For the last couple of years, non-bird activity has also been recorded with hedgehogs, squirrels, foxes included in the survey. Nature relies on all these inter-dependent animals and birds, together with insects, plants etc to be successful and create a healthy environment.
This winter has been mild but there is always the chance of a cold snap when birds and other wildlife need our help, so visit Wildlife Care on GardenSite and do your bit by installing nest boxes for hedgehogs who have declined by 50% over recent years, bug and insect hotels, as well as feeders and bird baths.
For information on the Big Garden Birdwatch go to rspb.org.uk/birdwatch
Read our blog if you are particularly interested in hedgehogs.
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.
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