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.
Bats don't get the best press, Martyn Loach thinks that's probably because they're not cuddly, only come out at night and have an undeserved reputation for getting tangled in your hair. But they're fascinating mammals that reflect a healthy environment and in the UK face various threats to their habitat.
This is why every garden needs a bat box or artificial roost. You can build a bat box at home or buy one, bearing in mind that different bat species have contrasting requirements.
The Wildlife World Oak Bat Box is double chambered and will provide the perfect habitat for many bats. Solidly constructed to give good insulation and to protect from predators, there's an access ladder and hinged front door providing access for inspection and cleaning.
Locate the bat box as high as possible (at least 4m – 5m above the ground), or just under the eaves of a house, in a sheltered sunny place.
To make your own bat box remember that bats do not like draughts and prefer a well insulated environment in which temperature and humidity is constant. So make sure joints are tight fitting and sealed.
Rough textured wood is also important, giving the bats something to cling onto.
Use untreated timber for the bat box, as bats are very sensitive to chemicals. A bat ladder or similar landing area is essential and the entry slit should be wide enough (15mm – 20mm) for bats to get in but not predators.
Bat boxes are more likely to be populated if the are placed in areas where bats are known to feed. It's a good idea to face boxes in different directions, so providing a variety of conditions.
Interestingly, some bats use a line of trees or hedgerow to navigate, so placing a bat box near these features may help.
Don't hold your breath if bats don't immediately arrive, it might take several years for the bat box to be occupied. One warm evening though you'll hear chattering noises from the inside and you'll know that the wait has been worthwhile.
For more information on bats refer to the Bat Conservation Trust website.
With gardens becoming smaller, neighbours closer and roads busier, we all suffer from different types of noise pollution. But, as Andy Taylor reports, Forest have now come up with a new kind of fencing that minimizes this nuisance.
Although gardening activity in February may not be so frenetic as during the summer months, there's still plenty to be done and Spring is just around the corner. Nathan James Dodd suggests the jobs you should be tackling in the garden this month.
Dan Everton helps you look after your pond during the February with some tips on the precautions you can take to avoid the water freezing over, and advice on keeping fish at this time of the year.
Heating will be a deciding factor on the variety of plants you are able to grow in a greenhouse and the number of plants that can be kept over winter. Here, Robert Hall goes through the pros and cons of the different types of heating that are available.