Nourishing nature: small ways we can make a difference as the days draw in
Show those street trees some love, go batty for bats and get your plant pots peat-free: our top tips for regenerating nature close to home as the shadows lengthen and the colder weather arrives.
Late summer can be a time of abundance, but unpredictable weather and even some of our urges to ‘tidy up’ can put stress on nature. Take some time to see what you can do to support our wildlife in your corner of the countryside – and feel nourished by nature at the same time.
Watch the weather
Typically, British seasons see all sorts of weather! We’re all used to seeing sudden downpours combined with dry periods, leaving nature exhausted. So there are some little things that we can all do in local areas to make things just that bit better for nature.
- If you live in an urban area, check your street trees when you’re out and about. A regular bucket of water poured at their roots will help their stress levels in times of drought.
- Put some water out for birds and insects. Oh – and if you want to see birds using it, make sure it’s not easily accessible by local cats.
- Make sure you have a little water at ground level for frogs and toads, and nighttime visitors, such as hedgehogs.
Have a bit more time? See if there’s a nature-friendly gardening project near you to join in with. Take a read of how a permaculture project near Brighton has nourished nature and helped those taking part to feel regenerated and healthier.
Go (slightly) wild
We all became a bit more relaxed about our appearance during lockdown. Lockdown hair? Don’t care!
If you’re lucky enough to have any outside space, now it’s time to be relaxed about that too. Let’s make sure that our green spaces provide what nature needs.
- Don’t be too keen to weed – some species, especially some bumblebees, are very reliant on just one or two species for their food supply.
- Don’t deadhead everything: makes sure there’s a couple of flower heads and hollow plant stems for bird food and insect shelter.
- Out fruit picking? Leave a few for the birds … it’s nice to forage but nicer to share.
Have a bit more time? Check your local council’s policy on mowing verges. Many now vary their schedule to make sure wildflowers have a chance to set seed. Find out more about what you can do from our friends at Plantlife.
A little thinking ahead now will make it much easier for wildlife in the harsher months of the year.
- Bee-friendly plants: it’s not too late to pick up a few plants for the autumn and winter, to keep bees and other insects in food. Some climbers such as winter flowering clematis and ivy, as well as plants with lots of little flower clusters such as verbena and Michaelmas daisies, will keep insects buzzing. If you only have a window box, an ice plant or winter-flowering heathers will be fine into the winter.
- Make sure you’re not using peat for your plants and seeds: find out more about peat in our ‘bog blog‘!
- Look ahead to the spring and order a few early flowering bulbs for insects that are about then (and know it will help regenerate you come the new year!).
Have a bit more time? Find out about how you can develop skills that’ll help create environments to regenerate nature. Hedgelaying, for example, provides practical good-looking field boundaries and a refuge for wildlife. You can read about this traditional countryside craft in our article all about hedgelayer Claire Maymon.
Ready to turn in? Take one last look at the outside world to remind yourself how nature nourishes us, and take some small actions to regenerate the nature in that cool evening air.
- As the days draw in, much of the birdlife will be replaced by bats after dusk, so you might see them swooping across the sky above you. Learn more about these nocturnal visitors in our article from Joanna Ferguson, an expert from the Bat Conservation Trust.
- If human nightlife is too noisy for snuffling nocturnal guests around your way, find a 24-hour wildlife webcam to get your fix of overnight viewing. We’ve put together a list of some of the best nature webcams for you to peruse from the comfort of your home!
- Check that your outside lights aren’t causing problems for the bats or other nocturnal wildlife. Not sure? Listen to our Counting Stars podcast to find out what you can do.
Have a bit more time? Read all about our annual citizen science event, Star Count, and see how we work to help more of us see spectacular starry skies and keep the nights dark for nocturnal wildlife.