Wildlife Garden Maintenance in June


If the weather is fine, early summer is a time to enjoy everything in your garden.  There are plenty of bees and young birds around and wildflowers such as poppies, cornflowers and wild roses are humming with insects.  The first meadow butterflies meadow brown, ringlet and the small and large skippers may be seen.  Blackbirds could be sitting on their third or even fourth clutch of eggs in the south so there is activity everywhere.


If you have an area of cowslips or bulbs in grass a spring meadow this can be cut at the end of the month as long as the seeds have fallen.  If not, wait until July.  Whenever you cut, make sure the hay is raked off thoroughly once it has dried for a few days.


Keep your garden pond topped up now with rainwater if you have saved some.  Young frogs and toads are developing and need to be able to get out of the water easily.  If the water level is low, this may not be possible.  They are also easy prey, especially for blackbirds.  If you have paving or open pond edges with no hiding places, try putting some logs close to the water to allow them to find shelter.


Continue to sow vegetable seeds with annuals between the rows to attract beneficial insects.  Carrots, lettuces, rocket and leeks can still be sown and insect attracting hardy annuals like marigolds, baby blue eyes and cosmos will flower later.


Keep containers of herbs, wildlife friendly bedding or pots with climbers well watered with saved rainwater if the weather is dry.  Try to resist watering lawns and borders.  The former will cope well enough if the clippings are not removed and they are left a little longer than usual.  Border plants will adapt to drier conditions, by producing long tap roots to search for moisture deep down in the soil.


If your roses are suffering from aphids this month, you can encourage blue tits and great tits to them to eat the greenfly or blackfly.  It has been estimated that a brood of young blue tits may devour up to one million aphids while their parents are feeding them, so this is a very effective way of controlling these insects without chemicals.  Try hanging a small feeder of sunflower hearts, or a fat ball amongst the roses to encourage the birds to the right place.


As the weather gets warmer, you may be interested to know if you have grass snakes or slow worms in the garden or allotment.  One way to find out is to place old carpet tiles with black foam backs, in a warm but out of the way place, black side up.  These heat up in the sun and provide a hot-spot for reptiles to bask beneath.  Lift them gently to see what is underneath.  Alternatively, a pile of stones somewhere in the garden may provide a home for these two species, but also for mice and voles, toads and many invertebrates.


Text and photographs Jenny Steel 2017