Kate Humble’s Wildlife Gardening - ‘a nature frenzy’

In memoriam: the Memorial Garden at The Lodge, RSPB headquarters. Bedfordshire, England. Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta, feeding on flower heads. October 2008.
In memoriam: the Memorial Garden at The Lodge, RSPB headquarters. Bedfordshire, England. Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta, feeding on flower heads. October 2008.

BY THE time we reach May I suddenly become aware we’re in the middle of a nature frenzy. The bird breeding season is in full swing, migrants are returning from their winter holidays, and pond wildlife is growing fast.

Although there’s still the possibility of a late frost (and given the rubbish weather we had in April, who knows?) temperatures should hopefully be on the rise and we’ll notice a lot more insects, butterflies and damselflies buzzing about.

Keep your eyes out for birds nesting in your garden and if you do spot any, steer clear and leave them in peace – once their little ones hatch peace will be a distant memory for the busy parents. With a drought now declared across large parts of the UK, water is a big issue, not least for us gardeners. Whether you’re in a hosepipe ban area or not, it’s sensible to hang yours up for the summer and instead look at collecting the little rain we do get. If you haven’t got a water butt already, why not? They’re great! If you have, why stop at one? Watering your plants in the evenings is also really important. Less water will evaporate in the cooler air and watering at the base of plants will mean your garden gets enough to quench its thirst. As hard as it may be, try not to water your lawn if you can. Grass can cope perfectly well with dry conditions; it may turn a little yellow for a while but saving water here could mean more for your garden birds. Water is vital for our feathered friends so make sure there’s always a fresh supply for them to drink and bathe in. This year could be a tough one for us all – people and wildlife – but simple steps could make a real difference, so let’s not forget how precious a resource it really is. Kate Humble