As midsummer approaches, now's the time to sit out and enjoy the garden. You'll see adult birds gathering food for fledglings right into the evening.
Most garden birds, even the seed-eating finches, tend to feed their young on insects at this time of year. You may notice birds taking caterpillars or insect larvae off to the nest, before returning to boost their own energy levels from the bird table or feeder. In hot weather, avoid putting out dry food such as stale bread, as this can hasten dehydration. Always chop nuts or use a feeder, as whole nuts can choke baby birds.
If your garden has dense cover, such as thick hedges, you may attract summer visitors, such as the willow warbler and chiffchaff, which breed from May to July. All the warblers are shy birds and can be difficult to spot.
Most garden birds... tend to feed their young on insects at this time of year
If you get tiny pests such as aphids on your plants, it's best to avoid spraying, as pesticides will also kill ladybirds and other helpful insects. Many birds, such as tits, will eat insect pests. If greenfly or aphids become a real concern, you can wash them off with a dilute solution of washing-up liquid.
If you've gaps in the flower border there's still time to fill them with quick-growing annuals grown from seed. You can also buy flowers in pots from garden centres, but they will need to be watered in well and kept moist once planted.
It is less work in the long run to opt for perennials that will flower year after year, or wild flowers. Foxgloves are one of our most spectacular native wild flowers; red campion is a similar shade and makes an ideal companion, while ragged robin is an even deeper pink with delicately cut petals that will brighten up damper corners.
Jobs for the month
- Trim box or privet if it is growing rapidly, but first check there are no nesting birds
- Prune spring flowering shrubs such as lilac, spiraea, forsythia and broom as soon as they have finished flowering
- Give spring flowering meadows their first cut at the end of this month
- Spread a mulch of compost or shredded bark around trees, shrubs and roses when the soil is moist
- Plant up containers and hanging baskets with annuals
- If you have been growing plants from seed inside the greenhouse, take them outside to acclimatise before planting
- Sow vegetable crops, such as a lettuce mix, or courgettes directly into the soil, and try some in large pots
How you can help
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