As Spring replaces Winter the sap is now rising, both literally and metaphorically! It has come to that time when we have to discuss the birds and the bees, because an abundant range of wildlife is a good indicator of a gardens health, enhancing its interest and beauty.
Birds are a great natural pest control, dealing with slugs, snails, caterpillars and aphids. Many of us put out bird food during the winter but to maintain a large and varied range of species you really need to feed all year round. Birds often remain close to a reliable supply of food, and with a suitable nesting site they'll not just flourish but also multiply. Bird boxes can be bought in supermarkets this time of year, but avoid novelty models, as the RSPB recommends 'simple not stylish'. Garish colours can attract predators and inappropriate designs can actually endanger the birds.
Be sure to put the bird box in a site that doesn't allow easy access for cats. And, speaking with my tree surgeons hat on, do be careful about fixing screws and nails all over your trees. Not only can they damage the tree they?ll make an awful mess of a chainsaw blade when you try to remove that branch in ten years time!
While you're at it why not also put up a bee box. Like bird boxes they're easy to make with lots of designs available online. They?re made of tubes of natural materials like hollow plant stems and old wood with holes drilled in. These offer solitary bees a safe breeding site, and they'll repay you by pollinating your plants. Bumble bee populations are in serious decline with several species recently becoming extinct so do look out for our apiarian friends, our gardens will suffer without them. If you're feeling lazy, Bee Boxes are only £13.00 on-line and won't break the bank.
And if you want nature to take care of all those night time flying creepy crawlies, you could always treat your garden to a bat box as well.