October is the time when many of our garden wildlife species start preparing for hibernation including hedgehogs, amphibians, bees, bats and butterflies.
Hedgehog: Kevin Sawford (rspb-images.com)
There are many things we gardeners can do to help our garden wildlife survive the winter. We can offer the right kind of supplementary food and keep feeding stations clean and well stocked! Even when there's plenty of rain, clean drinking water is essential so ensuring there are natural troughs or dishes available with safe and accessible clean drinking water will be greatly appreciated by mammals and birds. "Leaving" the right kind of habitat around whether that's piles of logs, twigs or garden leaves for wildlife to shelter and forage amongst is much more beneficial than cutting and clearing everything away. Deliberately creating a dead wood pile or leaf mould pile in a corner or at the back of the border can be a way of tidying up a bit and creating a new home for wildlife.
If you have seen hedgehogs in your garden recently, try offering them some supplementary hedgehog food or meaty cat food. In addition to their natural diet, it could help them in these last weeks of feeding to gain enough weight to last them through their hibernation.
Blackboard Tip at the Flatford Wildlife Garden: Shirley Sampson.
Frogs and froglets could still be about feeding on insects, slugs and worms; putting a ping pong ball in the water can help to prevent total freeze-over keeping an entry and exit point as well as allowing oxygen into the water. Making your own frog home, can be done quite easily with logs and stones from around the garden, and I like to put a layer of damp leaves in the bottom for added moisture and cover.
October can feel like the last fully active wildlife month of the year in the garden before creatures gradually seek their winter shelters so any help we can offer with food and habitat can ultimately make a difference to their survival. We have lots more ideas at the Flatford Wildlife Garden which is open now until the 1st November if you'd like to come and visit us.
The Flatford Wildlife Garden is now open daily from 10.30am- 4pm, 1st October until1st November 2020. Entrance to the garden is free, it’s push-chair friendly and dogs on leads are welcome. Parking is £5 in the National Trust Car Park next door.
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