November update

What can we do to maintain our garden and the insect life it contains?

Antony McClusky, Project Officer for Helping Hands for Butterflies suggests the following: only rake leaves off the lawns, in other places the leaves keep the weeds at bay and allow insects in or under the leaves to complete their lifecycle. If you are planting bulbs as pollinators for next year don’t include daffodils. Apple trees are great as pollinators and as food for moth caterpillars. When pruning put the cut stems into stacks and leave them in quiet parts of the garden to give attached insects a chance of surviving. They may become homes for hedgehogs and birds and when they rot down will be food for beetles and other invertebrates. Volunteers at Bearfield put new material into the Bug Hotel making it cosy for insects to overwinter. Areas of grass were also removed to create bare soil on which to sow wildflower seeds.

Trees in the UK.

13% of the UK has tree cover, in Wiltshire it is 11%. In EU the average is 35%. We really need to plant more trees. We also need to look after the ones we have. Over the last few months people have raised concerns at 3 different areas in our locality. If there are veteran trees in your area you can get them registered. To find out how go to ‘Ancient woodland and veteran trees: protecting them from development. A veteran tree can be defined as a ‘tree that is of interest biologically, culturally or aesthetically because of its age, size or condition’. Veteran trees in a woodland can add to the ecosystem when moss grows on them, if blue green algae grows in the moss then a ‘fertilizer’ is produced which when washed down by the rain will be taken up by the roots.

Inwoods, which is inside the Wiltshire boundary, is an SSSI site with an Article4 Direction. It has a Forestry Commission Management plan and associated felling. The Article 4 direction protects it from development and activities such as tracks, buildings and motorsports and was implemented in January 2011. Wiltshire Council could do the same for Becky Addy Woods.

If you are a lover of trees then you are a nemophilist…talking of which, we have this from Jonathan Francis:
Last Chance for this year SEED COLLECTION. I still remember growing oak seedlings in flower pots with my grandmother 30yrs ago and I’m sure that it led to my on going love and respect for our nature. At this time of year seeds have set and ripened/Dispersed and its a good time to go out with friends/ family exploring, investigating. Whether its collecting the seed-heads of yarrow, knapweed, teasel to name a few and sowing on a bit or bare ground at the edge of a lawn or long grassy verge. Its good to proliferate the natural genetic of our region/town rather than sowing from a generic seed packet. Also collecting seeds from veteran trees that are big old standards like a Oak or Sweet chestnut that might be 200yrs plus or a hazel that through coppicing might be a similar age running an ancient right of way, often a key here is the track might be sunken with the passing of time and the trees on a parallel bank. Leaves have started to drop so go for it and scratch around under the leaf litter, look for the unusual and plant into flower pots or a wild part of the garden and see what comes up. The joy of learning something new and identify as it grows in subsequent years. Have Fun.  Liz Stephens