It's that time of the year when you know you should be sorting out your garden but we are getting fewer days of sun. Well, it's time to pull up those long johns, grab your wellies and get dirty!
Here are some tips you can do right now in your garden to help our hedgehogs.
Leave some leaves:
Decay processes support the fungi and bacteria which underpin the garden ecosystem. More rotting leaves = more insects = more hedgehog food. Start stacking small piles up even if it's for your compost heap. Hedghogs also love to drag those leaves in to places they are thinking about hibernating this year.
Sort, don't burn:
Burning everything is a waste. Sort your woody debris from leaves and shoots. Pile the former in a corner of the garden, the latter can go into the compost heap. The result: less pollution, more nesting opportunities for hedgehogs. Don't forget if you do have a bonfire to check if a hedghog has claimed it as it's new home! They love to sleep in them during the day. Even better start the fire in another spot and drag over the debris so you are 100% a hedgehog or others critters are not under there.
Plant a fruit tree:
Apples, pears or cherries all produce fruit which encourages insects, and they have the right type of leaves for hedgehog hibernation nests. But all fruit trees are great to plant as they also help out other wildlife who munch on the fallen fruits.
Cherry (try varieties 'Stella' or 'Sunburst'). A good urban tree: pick the right rootstock and it will fit in any sized garden. The leaves are the right size for hedgehogs to make their hibernation nests from so this will provide a ready natural source of bedding.
Thyme. Plant this between the cracks in your patio or in the sunny edge of a bed. Aside from being great for cooking, it is the food plant for several moth species = caterpillars = hedgehog food.
Willow. One of the best plants for encouraging insects, it ranks up there with the mighty oak. For smaller gardens consider growing a willow structure or maintaining as a coppiced plant to keep in check.
Bird’s-foot-trefoil. This legume is the food plant for the common blue butterfly (and five others), and is also very attractive to flying insects when in flower. Does well in a perennial wildflower mix.
Honeysuckle. Aside from the glorious nectar-rich flowers, this plant keeps its structure during winter which makes it attractive as a nest site. Grow it over your log pile to maximise the potential of this feature.
You might also want to help out a few birds and start to hand some bird feeders out for them, We sell lots along with seed to fill them up!