Sometimes my aim of getting a blog out every Friday goes for a burton - life just gets in the way. It's that time of year when I get home from work, rush a meal through, and then get into the garden until the last vestiges of light force me in to flop.


Never mind - what there is at this time of year is just no end of stories to be told from the garden. And I don't just mean from MY garden.


For example, I was sent these photos by Caroline French from her garden in Emsworth in West Sussex.


And there is not only one. There is a whole family of them, with the youngsters (below) looking a really good size already, which bodes well for their survival this winter.


I asked Caroline what she does to help her Hedgehogs.


"I feed them. I have been putting out two flat saucers with dried mealworms and broken pieces of peanut (not whole or salted!) I also sometimes put out some meat-based (not fish) cat or dog food.


"I understand that food should be out in moderation as hedgehogs can become overweight! Apparently high-protein, low fat is key, as this most closely replicates their natural diet - so mealworms and meat-based cat/dog food are probably best.


"The most important thing, though, is a shallow bowl of fresh water.


"We're surrounded by fences so we cut holes, only about 12 by12cm, at both sides of the garden. Although the garden is only about ten metres square, I don't use any pesticides in my garden and I do allow a few areas to get a bit 'wild' with Ivy, Woodruff, Enchanter's Nightshade, clovers etc.

"And we have a simple but solid Hedgehog House, which is well hidden underneath a Viburnum. It feels really important that it is tucked away somewhere shady and quiet."

Here is a picture of Caroline's box, taken when not in use, of course!


Given the terrible decline in Hedgehog populations, it's good to know that gardens can still be a haven for them, if we do the right things. For me, just waiting for one to pass through is the first challenge, given how scarce they are these days, but if and when they do, I'm inspired by Caroline to be ready for them, with everything they need to encourage them to stay.