Nature Notes: Autumn

Autumn seemed to come almost overnight this year – one day it was hot and sunny, the next the temperature had dropped, the leaves were changing, and I had to dig out my coat for morning dog walks. Our trusty robin has fought off its opponents and is the only one joining me as I garden now, and the last of the bees are still busy collecting food from the cat mint which is coming to an end.

We’ve cut our lawn for the one and only time this year, pleased with the wildflowers that have sprung up since last September. Our squashes are turning orange, and our autumn raspberries are in full swing. If you can find an uncut hedge there are sloes and blackberries aplenty (although they’re coming to an end soon), and there are hazelnuts to collect if you can find a good spot. It is the time of year that nature starts to slow down and ready itself for winter.

Look out for hedgehogs on the roads and in your gardens – they’re in serious decline and we need to do all we can to keep them going – look at making a hedgehog highway (a little hole in the bottom of fences to enable them to get into your garden) and slow down on the roads so you can avoid squashing them. Remember they’re great slug controllers, and a hedgehog is better than slug pellets in all senses! As we get near bonfire season remember to turn over any piles before you light them, to make sure no hedgehog has set up home there.

Environmental top tip

Leaves are falling from the trees, and sometime piles of leaves may need to be moved. Whilst leaf blowers are an easy way to move leaves quickly, as well as being noisy, they have a huge impact on insect populations, which are already in massive decline. Avoid them as much as you can, with a garden rake and gloves much less likely to damage and kill important insects (it isn’t just bees that pollinate plants, and bats rely on insects for food). Or, even better, just leave as many leaves where they fall, or add them to your compost heap – leaf mould is great for your garden, and leaf piles provide a vital place for wildlife to overwinter. Whilst in some places a bit of tidiness is needed in green spaces such as gardens, hedges and verges, it is responsible for huge decline in wildlife, and a bit of untidiness should be embraced and celebrated!

Morgan Jones