Ken’s Tales of Flora & Fauna (No. 5)
Whilst we are spending more time at home due to the lockdown restrictions, many have turned to their local areas to relax and those lucky enough to have a garden are getting to enjoy them whilst the sun shines. Here our Managing Director, Ken Gillingham, shares tales from his garden idyll.
October brings a richness of colour to our garden, with the multitude of different hues displayed by autumn foliage. Sadly, the high winds we have experienced in October have blown the leaves off many of the trees, spoiling the beautiful autumn display. The fallen leaves create a huge amount of work as they have to be raked up and composted. If they are left in a thick layer on the lawn they will kill off the grass, and leaves left lying over and around plants can encourage slugs and snails.
An early morning walk around the garden reveals a plethora of highly visible spider webs strung extravagantly across the bushes. Spiders are at their largest and most mature this time of the year, with many of them pregnant too. The webs catch the dew from the night mists that begin about now and look truly magnificent, rather like beautiful strings of small sparkling diamonds.
Hedgehogs go into hibernation this month or next. I will miss their snuffling noises as they root around in the hedges looking to eat as much as they can to build themselves up, ahead of sleeping the winter away. The badgers in the field behind the garden do not hibernate, but they are feeding on fallen crab apples, brambles and acorns to put on fat reserves ahead of the colder months to come.
With the heavy autumn rains the mosses, that cover the dead branches on our large cob nut tree close to the house, start to produce and release their spores, their equivalent of seeds, which will be carried through the air to land and germinate on moist soil and create new mosses. I don’t intend to remove the dead branches as they are ideal for hanging our bird feeders on. I hung up the first one at the weekend and filled it to the brim with a wildflower seed mixture. The greedy blue tits and goldfinches have already emptied it, seeds that fall to the ground as they feast, are soon eaten by robins and wrens and under cover of darkness, by field mice. The birds are also devouring the berries that cover the Cotoneaster, a hedge that stretches almost 40 feet across our front garden. These should be a good source of food for them well into December.