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
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
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