October 2020 - The colours of autumn

October 2020 - The colours of autumn

Find out what things you should be doing in your garden this autumn...

October is a month brimming with colour! Fat orange pumpkins swell in the garden, ready to be carved into sharp toothed jack O’ lanterns and cooked into copper-coloured soups. The trees are darning their vibrant reds, yellows and golds as they dress for their seasonal finale.

Take a step outside and you’ll see your silvery breath mist in the air for the first time. The cool air flushes warmth into your cheeks and turns them a rosy pink. Now certainly is not the time to retreat from the garden. There’s still a lot that can be done to support wildlife on your doorstep.

Here are the four things you can do to get your garden set for wildlife this autumn:

Hedgehog House

Build a hedgehog home

This year, the humble hedgehog joined the list of vulnerable creatures that are at risk of being lost forever. Imagine never again seeing their little legs scurry, freeze and curl into a ball as they see you approach! If we want these prickly balls of cuteness to be seen for generations to come, we must give them a helping hand wherever we can.

October and November is a busy time for a hedgehog. You’ve got to have a feast to make sure you’re not hungry throughout the winter. You’ve got to gather that mossy duvet to tuck yourself under to stay warm. That’s not to mention the time you’ve got to put in finding that perfect site to build your winter nest!

So why not take the pressure off them by giving a home to your spiky little neighbours? Take a look at our awesome guide to see how this is done. Remember, whilst shop bought homes are nice and convenient, they may not always be the most suitable. Please do check they are made from the same materials and are the right size as the ones we have suggested.

Hedgehog c. Tom Marshall

Hedgehog c. Tom Marshall

Once you’ve got a home ready, you need to find the right spot to put it. Hedgehogs love to nest under trees, hedges, and leafy areas in the shade, so consider this when finding a place to put your hedgehog home.

And remember, to get hedgehogs in your garden they need to be able to get in - hedgehogs can’t rappel down walls and scale fences like their squirrel friends! If your garden is enclosed, make sure you have a hedgehog hole so they can get in and out. Why not mention this to your neighbours and see if you can create a hedgehog-friendly neighbourhood where you live?

dandelion seeds

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) close-up of seedhead, Badbury Rings, Wimborne, Dorset, England, UK - Guy Edwardes/2020VISION

Harvest flower seeds

Did you know that you don’t need to buy annual seeds and plants every year? Help feed bees and butterflies each year as well as save money by collecting and storing seeds. Now is the perfect time to collect any remaining seeds from your garden ready for sowing next year.

Once the seeds have ripened, remove the pods and heads and place them into a paper bag. You’ll know it’s time for this when they have a firm crisp texture that just falls apart when rubbed between your fingertips. Gently crush, shake and dislodge any seeds before emptying the contents on a sheet of white paper.

Separate the seeds from the chaff and then put the seeds into an envelope for safekeeping. Place this in an airtight container in the fridge and store until you’re ready to bring them to life in the spring.


WildNet - Kieron Huston

Bring back the meadow

Cheshire has lost 99% of its wildflower meadows since the 1960s. Our insects and wildlife are certainly feeling the pressure. Do your part by creating your own micro-meadow in the garden! Watch our videos to see how to prepare the ground and choose the best seed mix for your new wild space!

If you’ve already taken the step to create your own wildflower meadow, now is the perfect time to cut it back as the plants have finished flowering and are dropping their seeds.

Common blue butterfly

Ross Hoddinott/2020VISION

Cutting at this time of year is actually great for wildflowers. We do this on the wildlife havens we look after each year. Traditionally, cattle and sheep would have sympathetically grazed meadows. Not only do the animals eat the grass and wildflowers, but their hooves create patches of bare earth allowing new seeds to take hold.

It is also important to leave some grass uncut as this provides a place for butterflies and moths to overwinter. Before getting the strimmer or mower out, make sure to check that your meadow isn’t hosting any visitors like toads or hedgehogs that may be hiding in the grass!

Compost heap at Bickley garden

(c) Katie Greenwood

Start a compost heap

Many people rely on shop-bought compost, year in year out, most of which contains peat. This is a huge problem as it comes at the expense of our amazing peatland habitats which are growing scarce as more and more are destroyed. This is a problem not only for all the plants and animals that live in our peatland, but for us all. Peatlands are enormous stores of carbon, far more than woodlands. By digging for peat, we’re releasing carbon straight into the atmosphere.

Compost heaps are the natural defenders of our peatlands and are easy to get started. You don’t even need a container; just pick a damp shady spot and you’re already half way there! Pile up your food and garden waste and watch as worms and other insects act as your very own waste disposal team.

Over the months, they’ll break down anything from vegetable peelings to leaves to cardboard. This is turn provides shelter and warmth for hedgehogs, newts and reptiles. Once more, when spring arrives, you should have a great source of natural fertiliser for your garden!

bird on camera

WildNet - Bob Coyle

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