Dai al tuo giardino un po' di comfort, dice Monty Don

Passa un inverno selvaggio: Dai al tuo giardino un po' di comfort e sarà un paradiso per la fauna selvatica con il clima rigido, dice Monty Don

So many gardeners now realise that a rich and diverse wildlife is one of the best ways to ensure that your garden is healthy. There is also the growing awareness that our gardens are a vital habitat for a wide range of life.

Per esempio, hedgehogs are now much more common in gardens than in the agricultural countryside and song birds such as blackbirds and robins also thrive in back gardens.

But it is important to try to avoid creating a hierarchy of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ wildlife. For far too long gardeners have categorised too many things as ‘pests’ simply because they inconvenience our idea of a garden.

Monty Don shares advice for natural biodiversity as the awareness of gardens being a vital habitat for a wide range of life increases. Nella foto: Monty with his teasels

Monty Don shares advice for natural biodiversity as the awareness of gardens being a vital habitat for a wide range of life increases. Nella foto: Monty with his teasels

Our pursuit for ‘perfection’ can upset the natural biodiversity so we are providing perfect conditions for slugs, caterpillars, aphids or moles to flourish and making it difficult for their predators to thrive. There may well be an imbalance in the wildlife in your garden but there are no pests.

Inevitabilmente, some creatures are more attractive than others but the goal is to create a balance of predator and prey that can sustain itself without destroying our garden. This invariably means increasing the range of species rather than the number of any one species.

ASK MONTY

Q How can we get rid of woolly aphids on our apple trees?

S Hayes, Derbyshire

UN The best defence against these sap-sucking insects is to encourage predators such as blue tits, ladybirds and lacewings.

Q One of my hydrangeas didn’t bloom this year but the other did. I don’t know what kind they are. Puoi aiutare?

Ken Sharp, Nottinghamshire

UN The two main types of hydrangeas, lacecaps and mopheads, flower on the previous year’s wood. So if you prune them in spring they may not flower. H. arborescens and H. paniculata, però, flower on new wood, so should be pruned hard in March. If in doubt, don’t prune!

Q My lemon tree spent the summer on the patio, where it flowered and produced some small lemons. Now I’ve brought it into the greenhouse it’s shedding fruit and leaves. Why is this?

Christine Smith, Yorkshire del sud

UN It’s probably either too wet or too dry. Una volta dentro, let it dry out and only water once a month. The air should be about 10°C and humid, so spray the leaves with a mister once a week. Start watering and feeding in spring once you see new growth, and prune in May once it’s outside and growing strongly.

Write to Monty Don at Weekend, Quotidiano Mail, 2 Derry Street, Londra W8 5TT or email monty.don@dailymail.co.uk. Please include your full name and indirizzo. We regret Monty can’t reply to letters personally.

Annuncio pubblicitario

A healthy, balanced wildlife population in a garden is a pyramid. The base is formed of insects and invertebrates; anything you can do to increase them will directly improve conditions for birds, pipistrelli, many mammals, amphibians and reptiles – as well as improving pollination for your beloved plants.

Long grass and dried stems make excellent winter cover for insects so resist the temptation to be too tidy. Leave seed heads of plants such as teasels, thistles and sunflowers as birds will pick them clean and the hollow stems provide safe winter shelter for insects.

Your borders can be left untouched all winter without coming to any harm and then be tidied once growth begins in early spring.

Gather a wheelbarrow of leaves and tip it against a fence or in a quiet corner. This will make the perfect home for a hedgehog, toads (perhaps a frog or two) and innumerable insects and bacteria. Stack wood and bundles of prunings in a corner so small birds, voles, insects and a hedgehog – if you are lucky, they are becoming alarmingly scarce – can benefit from the cover.

Winter is a much better time to see garden birds than summer because there is so much less foliage for them to hide amongst. The short days also mean that the birds are busier seeking out their food whether in the soil, the seed heads of your borders or on a bird table; watching them at work is one of the great pleasures of the winter garden.

Put out food for them, preferably out of reach of cats, rats and squirrels. Avoid seed mixes that have grain in them as this will only attract pigeons and rats. I buy my seed separately then make my own mix. It’s made predominantly from sunflower hearts and combined with dried mealworms, niger seed, kibbled suet, small amounts of grated cheese and windfall apples.

It is important to spread some seeds for ground-feeding birds such as wrens, chaffinches and dunnocks, as well as to have peanuts and fat balls hanging that will attract the tit family and woodpeckers.

Finalmente, just because it’s winter don’t forget to leave fresh water out every day for the birds – especially when it is freezing.

MONTY’S PLANT OF THE WEEK: WINTER-FLOWERING PANSIES

Monty said winter-flowering pansies such as the ‘Universal’ series (nella foto) should be cut back hard in spring as the plants become leggy

Monty said winter-flowering pansies such as the ‘Universal’ series (nella foto) should be cut back hard in spring as the plants become leggy

I’m a great fan of the gaiety of winter-flowering pansies such as the ‘Universal’ series. Plant in a pot in peat-free compost – they grow and flower in almost any position but fare best in as much sun as winter can provide, and do not like to dry out or be waterlogged.

The trick to keeping them flowering through winter is to dead-head the spent flowers. In primavera, as the plants become leggy, cut back hard, then keep watered and fed in summer and they should be good for at least one more winter’s display.

THIS WEEK’S JOB: BUSH PROPAGATION

You can propagate fruit bushes and flowering shrubs by taking hardwood cuttings now. Cut 30-60cm lengths of stem of this year’s growth, and then halve. Place in a gritty compost-filled pot or trench with added sand so only a third of each length is above the soil. Water well weekly.

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