• The Villages Mag

Green fingers and muddy boots

Spring is here, all ready to encourage us outdoors once more. This fantastic season brings new life and colour to a mostly drab and dormant winter landscape in our parks, gardens and countryside.

Although the friendly Robin may have provided a touch of colour over the winter, now is also the time many of our small native birds begin to make preparations for the season ahead, greeting us with song, whilst at the same time continuing to flit through the shrubs and borders searching for the hidden bugs in the soil. The country name for the Dunnock was “titmouse” due to its habit of foraging on the ground in a rodent like manner in and out of cover. The ornamental shrubs, hedges and small trees in our gardens whilst attractive provide vital foraging, safety and nesting habitat.

You can attract birds in to your garden by leaving out nesting materials. Items such as small twigs, straw/hay, grass cuttings left in small balls on your lawn and even hair brushed from your pets can be perfect for them.

The work in the garden has already started. The longer days and soil temperature has begun to stimulate new growth, and it’s now time to start enjoying your outside space. On a cold day, as the sun hits the trees and shrubs, their buds are full and ready to open, absorbing the sun’s rays turning it into vital energy for growth.

The last of the leaves have fluttered from the beech hedges. Slugs and snails like to hide under these old leaves so it’s time to clear out any unwanted leaves and debris. Perhaps you may notice the shrubs and plants that need the dead heads removing, like hydrangeas, the dead head has provided protection from frost and snow, but they can now be snipped off to allow the new growth to bloom. The Buddleia or “Butterfly bush” is a “showy” shrub that should be pruned back, and the new flowers will host a varity of insects, bees and butterflies later in the summer.

The wonderful smell of cut grass is in the air once more which always brings a smile to my face.

Even if you haven’t got green fingers everyone can get there boots muddy enjoy your outside space!

Alan Bethell

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