October in the Garden

Vivid colours are spreading amongst the trees, as leaves take on shades of gold, red and brown. Fungi are sprouting on lawns, trees, rotting wood and anywhere else they can. The weather is cooler and probably wetter, perhaps the occasional frost or hail shower announces that winter approaches. But for now there should still be warmer spells; brighter days when the autumnal hues glow in the sunshine.

Most wildlife has little time to appreciate the changing of the leaves, for the majority of the Wales’s animals, a red leaf is a warning sign. As winter creeps closer our wildlife is preoccupied with preparing for the hardships ahead.

Jobs for the month

  • Clean out birdbaths and keep them topped up
  • Replenish birdfeeders and make sure you clean them weekly. All feeds, including peanuts, are safe, as the breeding season is now over.
  • Leave some seedheads standing, rather than cutting them back, to provide food and shelter for wildlife.
  • Leave mature ivy uncut if possible, as it is an excellent late source of nectar for insects.
  • Make a leaf pile for hibernating mammals and ground-feeding birds overwintering in Wales – a tidy garden is never a good garden for wildlife.
  •  Build your own hedgehog house (197 kb)
  • Clear out nest boxes as they can harbour harmful pests which will effect next years young chicks. Only use boiling water to clean out the nests, do not use chemicals.
  • Clear out your pond of any rotting vegetation. Any dead vegetation can be raked out gently, however it is important to leave this at the side of the pond for a few days to allow any trapped water creatures to be able to get back into the pond.  After a few days the dead vegetation can either be put on the compost heap, in a pile in the corner of the garden to create another habitat or around plants to provide nutrients for the soil.

What to spot at this time of year

Jay by Bob Coyle

Jay by Bob Coyle

Keep an eye out for the normally shy jay as they gather together food for the coming winter. They are normally heard rather than seen however at this time of year we can really appreciate this spectacular looking corbid.

Also at this time of year our old garden friend the robin can be heard singing his winter song. In the dearth of other bird song this beautiful melody and the courage of this little garden friend can bring a lift in the heart on the dullest of days.

If you are really lucky you will also be able to hear tawny owls in the evenings and the early mornings, as the young are turfed out of the nest there is a real battle of calls to establish new territories. It is worth stepping outside of an October evening just to experience the cacophony.

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