Watching birds feeding, displaying and collecting nest material in the garden is the most wonderful way to connect with the natural world. Whether you are listening to chiffchaffs singing while you are weeding the borders in spring or watching redwings feeding in the snow, birds bring life and joy to our gardens throughout the year.
Attracting birds into the garden is straightforward and is as much about what you don’t do as what you do. Avoid using insecticides and herbicides, leave trees, shrubs, hedges and climbers to mature, create plenty of areas with good undergrowth cover and allow herbaceous plant material to stand overwinter. If you create a garden that supports healthy soil and encourages biodiverse insect populations, it will also be good for mammals, amphibians and birds. Growing plants with berries, fruits and seeds is also important, and can be supplemented by providing good quality bird food.
Provide the right conditions for our feathered friends to feed, shelter and nest – and they will come.
Common garden birds in the UK House sparrow, Passer domesticus
This gregarious garden bird often nests in holes in buildings or in grouped nest boxes on house walls. The male has a streaked brown back, brown head and neck, with a grey cap and black bib. Females and juveniles are less distinctly marked, with streaky backs and no bib. House sparrows feed on seeds and grains in autumn and winter, but in spring they need access to a plentiful supply of small invertebrates to feed their developing chicks. Although still among the most common birds in UK gardens, house sparrow populations have significantly declined in the past 50 years.
Blue tit, Cyanistes caeruleus
With its blue cap and wings, this charming, colourful
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As 2024 gets underway, we’ve taken inspiration from Janus, the god of beginnings, transitions and time, who looks both forwards and back. Our gardens have all featured in our pages in the past, but we revisit them here and take a closer look at how they’ve developed over time, and how they’re changing now their owners have new challenges to contend with.
Greenhouses have an abundance of benefits that can allow you to make the most of your plants. If you’re considering investing in a greenhouse but are still not sure whether to buy one, read on for our ‘need to know’ advice.
Pembrokeshire has more than 180 miles of vast, unspoiled coastline, where beaches embrace rugged cliffs, largely untouched by modern life. This region beckons families and solo travellers alike, offering a tranquil getaway.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden was one of the key reasons I wanted to visit Cape Town. I’d long heard of the famous gardens, and their importance to horticulture worldwide, so the chance to explore them for real was a dream come true. There’s so much to do and see in Cape Town and, with only a few days to fit it all in, my wife and I had to carve out dedicated time to visit Kirstenbosch, but we’re so pleased we did.
It won’t be a surprise if I say the many garden visits were the highlight of my trip last April to the Côte d’Azur. All were enjoyable and fascinating, but one stood out for me. In Le Jardin Serre de la Madone, Menton, I discovered a terraced garden carved into old farming land by Lawrence Johnston in the 1920s. Already the heir to Hidcote Manor in the Cotswolds, shortly before commencing his masterpiece Johnston had been so seriously injured in WW1 he’d been left for dead.
Dramatic and elegant, amaryllis (Hippeastrum) are bulbous indoor plants that cheer us through the coldest months. The huge flowers bloom atop tall, sturdy stems, opening like colourful trumpets, as if about to blast away the winter blues with a clarion call.
If you envision your garden as a secluded sanctuary where you can relax and enjoy some peace, it will be of great benefit to improve the privacy of that special place. One way to do that is by strategically planting different beautiful tall-growing plants. They will not only add a touch of botanical elegance but will also shield your outdoor area from curious eyes.
The Society of Garden Designers has announced ten finalists across three award categories, in its annual SGD Student Awards, including the recently introduced urban sustainability award. The shortlist was chosen by a judging panel that includes SGD Fellows Sarah Morgan FSGD and David Stevens FSGD and Tom Massey MSGD, who was a recipient of two of the first SGD Student Awards in 2015.
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