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Wild About Gardens is a collaboration between the RHS and The Wildlife Trusts aiming to help you encourage wildlife into your garden.

Wild About Gardens Newsletter February 2017


A brief, bright sky quickly raises our spirits, and we want to get back out into the garden. As the urge to look ahead gathers momentum, use that energy to plan a bumper wildlife season. First however, pause and spare a thought for what can be done now.

If you want to trim your hedges, do it soon, before nesting season begins. Plant bare-root trees before the end of March; the sooner the better, to give the trees time to bed in before warmer weather. If you would like a pond, now is a good time to dig one, to have the best chance of filling it with rain rather than tapwater.

When the ground is less sodden and you can start planting, plan a border for bees, or an insect cafĂ©. If you would like to explore more plants for pollinators, then sign up for the RHS’s Blooms for Bees Dahlia trial.

At the same time, there are also tasks to avoid. Hold back from cutting perennials or tidying up too much as it is still too soon. Wildlife needs those mini shelters throughout the garden. This includes insects that overwinter as queens such as hornets and wasps. They find holes and crevices in trees and buildings, and fold their wings tight against their body.

The passing seasons have a pattern – different flowers, different creatures visiting the garden. You can join thousands of volunteers in noting these events for Nature’s Calendar, and help record how wildlife is responding to changes in climate. For more inspiration, see Wildlife Gardening Forum’s list of other surveys and for a communal birdwatching event, take part in an early morning walk at RHS Wisley on 28 January (booking essential).


 

Things to do

  • Clean out nest boxes, if you haven’t done so already. Birds will be mating soon and looking for nesting sites.
  • Wildflower meadows are gorgeous in spring and summer. Start planning one now, and prepare the ground.
  • Install a water butt so you can store up water before the warmer, drier season.

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More things to do in February.


 

Things to look for


Snowdrops

  • Snowdrops are a boon for any early flying bumblebees. Most bumblebee queens don’t come out until March although the buff-tailed bumblebee, Bombus terrestris, can remain active throughout the colder season and even set up winter colonies in the south of the UK.

House Sparrow

  • House sparrows are nowhere near as numerous as they once were, but can still be found in chattering crowds. Sparrows prefer to nest in groups and need large hedges, or traditional eaves. The increasing scarcity of these features could be one factor in sparrows’ decline.

Frog

  • Ponds are alive with sound of frogs croaking as they gather to mate. Males usually arrive before females, occupying a pond for a few weeks, until the females lay their eggs in shallow waters. Thick vegetation around the pond then helps both adults and youngsters disperse.

More about what to look out for in February.

A partnership of

Royal Horticultural SocietyThe Wildlife Trusts

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