Yet again our gardens are to be our haven for those fortunate enough to have access to them. There were reports during the first lockdown that biodiversity was increased in the general environment as verges etc had relief from traffic and the associated emissions and the urban wildlife benefited from a lack of human interference. There is no reason why, in Lockdown III, why our own spaces can’t also improve.
My one plea, if you read and take in nothing else, is to please, please do not be too tidy. Tidy has its place but at this time of the year we should be thinking of preserving habitat for all the little creatures that live in our gardens, whether it’s a small pollinator or a slug eating hedgehog. Piles of leaves under hedges, twigs and rotting logs all provide somewhere to live for something. For example, recently i found a male newt snuggled down in a nest of leaves that had built up on a patio. Needless to say the lovely amphibian was relocated to a safer spot. It is also tempting to cut down perennials to the ground, getting rid of the ‘brown’ but even that has uses. Senescent foliage is beautiful when backlit by sunshine on frosty mornings and the often hollow stems and crevices provide a safe haven for some invertebrates, a smorgasbord for tiny birds and seedheads full of nutrition are available for other birds and small rodents. In my garden I rarely cut down till the back end of February/March, with the advantage that the dead material provides a certain amount of protection for tender growing plants if the weather turns particularly harsh. The only exception I am making this week is a splayed out clump of oregano, which unfortunately is looking particularly dysfunctional ( due to a local cat who has decided that’s where it wants to lie to watch the feeding station for the birds!) and needs clipping back.
Enjoy your natural environment, whatever the size, as we stay home to save lives and the NHS.
Head Gardener, Garden Angel Cheshire.