Wildlife Watch with Kate Humble
You might even have BBC Springwatch on your TV screen as you’re reading this! I’ll be at the RSPB’s Ynys-hir nature reserve in Wales for the whole series, celebrating the UK’s best wildlife. I hope you enjoy our discoveries.
But closer to home, isn’t it nice to be able to stop worrying about frosts and relax about our plants and flowers a little bit? I’ve not been wishing the year away but it’s great to finally be able to plant things like vegetables and hanging baskets knowing they stand a good chance of survival!
Take care pruning spring shrubs as they finish flowering. Cutting them back now encourages fresh growth that will bear next year’s spring flowers. The flowers are usually on the extended stems of last summer’s growth and should be well away from any birds’ nests. But do check beforehand and hold off doing the work if you find one. If you find a nest after you’ve started the work don’t panic; carefully place the cuttings over the nest and leave them until the birds have fledged.
Try to find an area of the garden where you can start to let the grass grow for the rest of the year and through until early next spring. It doesn’t have to be a huge area and it should provide a safe haven for creatures like spiders, grasshoppers, butterflies and moths. And of course this will all help provide juicy foods for birds and mammals.
If you’re not sure which plants would be best to attract the all important insects, visit the herbaceous section of your local garden centre and see which ones are being visited by insects there, it’s a great indication of the best ones to choose.
I hope you’ll be able to take part in this year’s Make Your Nature Count survey this month. The RSPB wants to know what croaks, flaps, cheeps and snuffles about in your garden this summer, so please take an hour during 4-12 June to record the wildlife you see. For more information and to submit your results visit www.rspb.org.uk/naturecount
Were you lucky enough to see the beautiful orange-tip butterfly last month? They are still on the wing in June so you may still see them yet. If you have lady smock, hedge garlic or honesty growing in your garden they may be attracted to lay eggs on the stems and underside of the leaves. If your garden has lots of trees and shrubs creating dappled shade, keep an eye out for the lovely speckled wood butterfly too. They lay eggs on various grasses and would certainly benefit from that area of uncut grass too.
Enjoy your summer garden!