Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Parish Life - October

It has been an interesting start to the autumn season, with an initially unseasonal spell of hot weather in September that helped to ripen the hedgerow fruits. There seems to have been quite an abundance of hawthorn berries, blackberries and sloes. It is very tempting to go foraging for fruits to put into jams and jellies and to make sloe gin, but always remember to pick responsibly, leaving some for birds to feed on over the winter. Also, take care to tread gently and to try not to damage the surrounding foliage.

As the weather turns cooler, it is time to start feeding the birds that visit our gardens. This allows them to build up fat stores under their feathers that will help insulate them against the winter chill. The nation spends on average £200 per year on feeding wildlife, but it does not always have to be expensive. Leaving the seed heads of perennials such as ornamental grasses can provide a food source.

In fact, the best way to garden for wildlife is to mimic nature and to leave some areas to go a little “wild”. These spaces can provide a haven for birds and mammals. A pile of old logs can be a shelter and a food source, as it can harbour insects such as beetle larvae for hedgehogs and birds to feed on.

In the churchyard of St. Giles, we try to mimic nature, too, which explains why there are areas that are left wild to encourage native species. But it is a managed space and the cutting/raking regime is planned to allow plant species to flourish in their growing season.  As the end of the working year approaches, there is still plenty to do. If you would like to be part of our enterprise in maintaining the churchyard as a haven for wildlife, please join us on Saturday 19th October, 9.30 a.m. to 12 noon.  We are happy to show newcomers how we carry out our management programme. Tools and gloves, and refreshments will be available.  Please come and enjoy a session looking after your local environment!

Contributor: Liz Cullen, Co-ordinator

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