Under Your Wing

At this time of year it can be hard to know what to do in the garden… short and cold days, often wet and rarely welcoming! However, it is still possible to enjoy an element of the great outdoors from the comfort of your armchair… by inviting wildlife in to the garden.

It doesn’t matter how big or little your space is as bird feeders come in all shapes and sizes so we are sure to have something to suit you. Years ago feeding birds was a rather simple decision between seed or nuts. As time goes by we have come to realise that, like humans, different birds have different tastes so if you want to attract the widest range of visitors you need to cater for all diets.

Winter feeding differs from summer in a number of ways. A tip that applies to all types of feeders – don’t overfill them. Full feeders may not empty before they become damp and damp seed doesn’t flow well so there is wastage.

As a maximum, half fill initially and monitor how quickly the food disappears, then you can always put more in if it is taken within a day or two. Providing access to fresh water is as important as food, particularly when the natural sources may have frozen solid. It is important that birds waste as little energy as possible so ensuring every journey they make to your garden is rewarded with food and water is vital.

Types of food : energy-rich seed mixes containing oil-rich seed such as sunflower hearts, suet and nuts is perfect. Avoid mixes with husks as these require extra energy for the same reward. This All Seasons Mix from Peckish is a great choice.

Suet nuggets are great too as they can be placed in feeders, on tables or on the ground, catering to the different feeding habits of different birds.

Along with all the goodness described above, high-protein mealworms, such as these from Johnston & Jeff, are also a great winter snack. During the shorter days many birds will feed from dawn to dusk so placing food outside your windows should provide a great sight at anytime of the day.

Once you’ve tended to the birds outside, why not treat yourself to a few new foliage houseplants for inside? The Christmas flowering plants will be fading by now, so what better time than now for a little refresh!

Palms and Calatheas are our most popular foliage plants for living and bedrooms at the moment. Both architectural in style but quite different with palms shooting skywards and occupying more vertical than horizontal space whilst calatheas are shorter and broader, with their spade like leaves. Ferns love a steamy, warm room so they, along with the long-term favourite the spider plant are my top tips for the bathroom.