Last weekend, I had the pleasure of staying with my good friends the Walker’s (or was it they had the misfortune of having to put up with me?).

Their garden is a comfortable enough size to be manageable around a busy life. They have a good number of birds come to visit, from the commoner blue and great tit, blackbird, greenfinch and chaffinch to the exciting coal tit (sorry but I luv coal tits!), as well as reed bunting, brambling and blackcap among others. Who dares say the only wildlife in Milton Keynes are the concrete cows?

Saturday morning was lovely and the garden buzzing with birds - two male reed buntings stealing the show. Graeme took the opportunity to pick my brains on improving the gardens wildlife pheromone levels. Not that it needs much, Graeme being very interested in dragonflies; they have a superb little pond to accommodate.

Some of the cover is a little sparse though and the birds tend to congregate in two splendid winter flowering honeysuckles when making their way to the hanging feeder at the edge of the lawn.

The main tree in the garden is one of those cultivar hawthorns which birds drop into from the neighbouring willow, before going to the feeders. Hawthorns normally develop dense tangled crowns, but this specimen seems to be growing ever up and out! Graeme was looking at possibly reducing it to contain its height.

I suggested maybe a 25% reduction, cutting back to bias inward facing buds and shoots. And so it was, while Mrs W had popped to the shops and armed with a very good retractable pole lopper, Graeme and I decided to take the opportunity and quickly nip the tree in the bud! A stiff neck and few snips later, the job was done. All being well, the tree will start to thicken giving the bird’s more cover and with luck improve fruiting.

As for the cuttings, like any good habitat provision, I dumped them at the back of the border!

Luckily for us, on her return from the shops, the wonderful Mrs W was satisfied enough with our handy work not to want to nip us both in the bud!

Thanks both for an enjoyable weekend and even more for putting up with me.

Graeme is an occasional contributor to the Homes for Wildlife Forum. But those of you who appreciate good humour and want a light hearted read guaranteed to brighten your day may like to take a look at Graeme’s own blog account of the days events.