Make a home for wildlife
Nest-building really gets underway at this time of year
Image: Chris Gomersall
Wildlife begins to stir in the south and west of the country, while the north may still be firmly in the grip of winter. As nest building begins robins, sparrows, blackbirds and other garden birds fly back and forth with twigs and other plant debris.
You can help them out by tying up bunches of tiny twigs, dried moss, and other stringy vegetable matter near your feeders. Tiny warblers such as chiffchaffs return from Africa, having made the perilous journey across Europe. They are difficult to spot, although you might hear them singing in hedgerows and thickets.
Hedgehogs and frogs become active after hibernation. If you want to attract frogs, but don’t have room for a pond, an alternative is to use an old plastic washing up bowl. This can be sunk halfway into the ground in a quiet and shady spot. A large stone put inside it helps frogs climb in and out. You can also attract amphibians into your garden by leaving some damp places, such as long grass and piles of stones for shelter.
If you want to attract frogs, but don’t have room for a pond, an alternative is to use an old plastic washing up bowl.
In the garden, one of the first signs that spring has arrived is bulbs, such as crocuses, daffodils and chionodoxas. Many of our native woodland plants, such as primula, now flower in warmer southern areas - often under trees before they form a thick canopy of leaves. Other attractive early flowering plants include hellebores and pulmonaria.
March is a good planting month, as the soil is starting to warm up while plants are still largely dormant and don’t mind being moved. Evergreen hedges, such as holly or box, make a good screen for front gardens.
If you grow red or yellow-stemmed dogwoods, cut these down now before they come into bud, to encourage fresh brightly coloured stems to grow for next winter. If you have space, you could think about planting a shrub or group of shrubs to attract birds through the year. Nectar-rich flowers will attract many flying insects, including butterflies.
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