Nature Notes

News in October 2022


 Ponds for Wildlife talk - Friday 16th September: This was a beautifully illustrated talk on all aspects of pond construction and planting, by Norman Stevens, showing the steps in making a pond and the wonderful wildlife that have thrived in and around it since.

Autumn Walk and Seed Swap - Saturday 29th October: By the time you read this we will have had our autumn walk, spotting berries and looking at places wildlife will be starting to nestle into for the colder weather. On return we shared seeds we have saved from wildlife friendly plants as well as some actual plants.  For pictures and full reports of all events please see our website under Nature Notes.


Butterfly conservation talk  Tues 21st February: Zoom 7pm - 9.30pm: A talk given by the Norfolk Butterfly Conservation Trust about the decline of butterflies, the type of flowering plants and habitats they need and what we can do in our gardens to help them. With lots of lovely pics of butterflies of course.


Norfolk Green Care Network: We are pleased to become members of Norfolk Green Care Network, who welcome all those who are interested or actively involved in fostering activities that in some way deliver ‘nature connection’ for people. We look forward to networking with some of the other groups across the county.

NWT Claylands Wilder Connections project: A couple more workshops left but lots of dates for volunteers to help with hedge planting across the county. Take a look here.


Autumn is the best time for planting trees. For smaller spaces a crabapple is an excellent choice,  its gorgeous spring blossom for the pollinating insects followed by decorative red, pink, orange or yellow fruits. Some are good for making crabapple jelly, with any fallen fruits for the birds; other varieties persist on the tree until the new year when they become soft and palatable for blackbirds.

Mahonia, with its sweetly scented yellow flowers from November to March, is a good evegreen shrub, loved by bees when they emerge on mild, sunny days in autumn or winter. It likes semi-shade best; winter flowering hellebores could be planted around it.

christina pond. Photo C Wakeford smSmall garden pond, ideal for wildlife. Photo: C Wakeford

If you haven’t got a pond for the wildlife to drink from and bathe in, you can provide a shallow container; keep it topped up with fresh water and ice-free in the winter.

Clematis cirrhosa is a lovely winter flowering climber for a sunny sheltered spot, and the scented shrubby winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) is ok in some shade. Both attract the bees. It’s not too late to add some sun-loving crocuses and grape-hyacinths which will flower in early spring ready for the bumble bees.

In October there were several village gardens displaying colourful specimens of Pyracantha, with their masses of yellow, orange or scarlet berries - a wonderful dense shrub which provides shelter, nesting potential and food for the birds, its white flowers in spring alive with beneficial insects. Small birds will roost safely within. You can also get little straw roosting ‘pockets’ online or at a garden centre. It’s amazing how many wrens will snuggle together in them to stay alive in freezing weather.

If you haven’t done so already, consider leaving a sheltered and undisturbed corner of your garden as a wildlife haven. Leave the grass long, add fallen leaves and sticks tucked under a hedge or shrub, and a pile of stones and logs; if you ‘plant’ some of the logs upright in the ground you’ll almost certainly get lesser stag beetles as the cut edges rot, and if you’re really lucky, perhaps a greater stag beetle.

Hedgehog.Photo.Jesmond Dene.Creative Commons
Hedgehogs need to weigh 600g to hibernate successfully. Photo: Jesmond Dene, Creative Commons

Our hedgehogs will be looking for a safe, dry place to hibernate when the weather turns cold. To survive hibernation they ideally need to be 600g+ in weight, so if you find a small one, please call our local Charlie’s Hedgehog Helpline 07835 498970 to be directed to your nearest rescuer.


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