Use your garden to help attract some of the wonderful wildlife of Britain.

butterfly on violet scabiosa
Wild butterfly on a violet scabiosa

By allocating just a little bit of time and space to your garden this Autumn, you can easily attract various wildlife to your garden all year around. For many people wildlife is a welcomed addition to the garden providing extra character and also the knowledge that they are doing their bit to help with British conservation.

Online now you will find many varieties of plants and shrubs which will help you along the way, by both attracting and providing food/shelter for various forms of wildlife. Composting and letting a few patches of your garden grow a little wild will help to encourage visitors (and what gardener needs to be told the virtues of compost!).

If you have the space grow trees and big shrubs. By devoting even the smallest part of your garden to attracting wildlife you can turn it into a paradise for beneficial birds, mammals and insects.

bird hanging under peanut birdfeeder (goldfinch)

Birds are attracted to areas where they find both food and shelter. A good way of doing so in the autumn/winter is by planting up shrubs and trees which produce berries, such as Ilex (Holly), Pyracantha or Gaultheria. Not only will they produce valuable food but they also produce some much needed ornamental value in the Winter months. A bird table is also a fantastic way of enticing birds into a specific area of the garden. Ornamental grasses are also a popular way of making the garden appealing to seed eating birds.

Butterflies will visit most gardens, especially if they find plants in sunny or sheltered locations. The secret here is to make available nectar rich, fragrant flowers which are colourful and from which they feed.

Perennail strip for Blog pollinatoors
Lavender, Buddleia, Syringa, Forsythia and Echinacea are just a few fantastic garden favourites for attracting butterflies and all look great in the garden!

SquirrelSquirrels of course are fascinating wildlife to watch as they scurry around during the day. They feed off acorns, buds, nuts, berries and seeds. They will initially appear scared and frightened but with regular feeding they will soon feel at home in your garden. They are easily found around

Insects need water too! You can create your own insect water bowl – make sure you use stones or glass beads to prevent the insects drowning!
Insects need water too! You can create your own insect water bowl – make sure you use stones or glass beads to prevent the insects drowning!

woodland areas, large trees, beech tress and are especially attracted to your bird feeders, although take caution as they can damage them over time.

Provide water and shelter for Toads! These are great for keeping unwanted pests at bay and if you have a pond or one nearby its likely you already have Frogs and Toads living nearby. (If you have a dog remember Toads will release skin secretions which are toxic to dogs.

A pile of old logs or bricks, some overgrown grass or turned over empty pots can all help with providing shelter for animals – Hedgehogs will happily take advantage of your hospitality and thank you by eating pesky slugs and snails – an ideal natural defender of you Hosta plants!


 

The amazing colour changing Hydrangea!

Hydrangea paniculata Vanilla Fraise. Pure white cones of flowers, gradually maturing to a delicious shade of raspberry pink and then to red in autumn.
Hydrangea paniculata Vanilla Fraise. Pure white cones of flowers, gradually maturing to a delicious shade of raspberry pink and then to red in autumn.

These big beautiful shrubs are hugely popular and why not? Lush broad foliage with huge clusters of flowers that change colour in different soils – what’s not to love! Most Hydrangeas like the morning sun and will thrive if planted in a shady or partially shaded area – especially the big leaf varieties.

The big bold “flowers” on the mophead are actually colourful leaves so in a botanical sense aren’t flowers at all. Beautiful to look at BUT not as useful to anyone creating a garden with wildlife in mind. For that you need the lace-cap varieties which are loaded with pollen so great for bees, butterflies and other useful insects.

 

Colour changes:

 

Colour changes in hydrangeas occur naturally as the plants mature – but the PH levels of your soil will affect blue and pink varieties especially the big leaf varieties.

 

Back Camera
Simply put:

 

If the pH level of your soil is more acidic then Hydrangeas will turn blue, going mauve in neutral soils and pink in alkaline. (Neutral is pH 7.0)

Know your soils! – you can buy tests to check the pH levels of you garden soil from most garden centres OR if you’re lucky enough to be living next door to a keen gardener make friends with them and you might pick up a bit of local knowledge!

 

Hydrangea Mixed Collection Mophead 1005707

Urban myth or amazing fact?

 

Rusty nails will turn a Hydrangea blue!

 

Sorry but we couldn’t possibly go around dispelling advice passed down for generations here! However if you do decide to try this make sure you:

  • DON’T damage the root of the Hydrangea when you add your nails
  • DO plant the nails 8-10 inches away from the base of the Hydrangea
  • DO plant the nails at 8-10 inches intervals around the base of the Hydrangea
  • DON’T do it at all if you have inquisitive pets (or children) who might dig them up and hurt themselves!

Confusing fact!

White and green flowered Hydrangeas will generally keep their colour regardless of soil PH – although the pink and blue varieties that do change colour often will mature to white and green!

An easy way to keep your Hydrangea’s true to their colour is to grow them in containers or raised flower beds. Hard water from taps can also effect a change in colour so use rainwater to water your hydrangeas where you can. Saving and using rainwater has the added bonus of saving money on your water bills and being great for the environment!

 

Read more about creating an Eco friendly garden here.

 

 

HYDRANGEA TEXT

 

Spring 2016 Photography Competition – the results are in!

Firstly a MASSIVE thank you to everyone who submitted. This year the standards were truly excellent and it was extremely difficult to pick between the fantastic entrants!  A big congratulations to our winners. Our first prize of £100 will be going to Mr. Edwards for his eye catching Tulips. Prizes of £25 each will be going to our runners up Ms. Baird for her Narcissi Rip Van Winkle, Ms. Lee with her Crocus, Ms. Ralph with her Mixed Tulips and Ms. Hughes for the best garden picture.

Thanks again to everyone who entered, and keep checking back for more opportunities to win!