Green Fingers: Preparation is key as winter snipes

James Vaughan

Reporter:

James Vaughan

Green Fingers: Preparation is key as winter snipes

People think that frogs need to be near a body of water. In fact, frogs only need to be near water for around six weeks a year in order to breed. Picture above is one of Ireland's three frog species

WHILE out in the garden this week I was startled several times by jumping frogs.

This reminded me that at this time of year the wildlife looks to settle down for the winter. Frogs will be seeking out some place where they can hibernate for the coldest part of the winter. They seek out a cool, damp area with a bit of cover. People often think that frogs need to be always near a body of water. In fact, frogs only need to be near water for around six weeks a year in order to breed. They do an amazing job for gardeners so we should do all we can to encourage them. They spend their time seeking out food such as insects such as slugs, flies and spiders.

Bird Feeders

Another thing to remember as the weather gets colder is to start placing bird food outside again. Best practice is to place food out now and stop placing bird food outside as the weather warms up in the spring. As the weather improves in the spring time the birds are more able to find their own food. For now we are placing out peanuts and seed into bird feeders.

We also place out any fruit from our kitchen- apples, pears or plums- that are past their best. The birds appreciate them if they are placed on the ground. The birds will continue to work hard in our gardens during the winter months. They will continue to pick off aphids and green fly from trees and shrubs over the winter.

Not too tidy

I have a lot of spent flowers and dead growth on all of herbaceous beds. The only plant still with flowers are the asters. The perceived wisdom for this time of year is to remove all dead growth and place it on the compost heap. However, this is not something that I intend to do. I know from past years that earwigs over-winter in the hollow stems of spent flower stalks. I noticed in my own garden that this year a lot of ladybirds over-wintered in an evergreen shrub. So, what I am going to do is leave the majority of the dead flower stalks until next spring.

One plant that I will prune spent flowers from in our garden are our lavender plants. We have about sixty lavender plants all planted in a row. If lavenders are left over winter with their full growth they are more likely to get wet and retain this moisture. Because lavender comes from the Mediterranean it cannot cope with any amount of moisture. Lavenders can begin to rot if they are exposed to too much rain and moisture.

Bulb Planting

I have planted several hundred spring flowering bulbs in our garden so far this year. I still have several hundred more to plant. As mentioned previously, there is still time to plant bulbs outside for several more weeks.

Contact James

james.vaughan1020@gmail.com