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In your garden

Still much to enjoy in a melancholy month. We tend to feel melancholy at this time of year, but if I had to plump for my favourite month it would be September.

It’s something to do with how the light changes, becoming less intense but still enhancing all the glorious autumn colours. September sky can be the most wonderful blue, unbleached by hot sun; wild fruits and nuts hang on the hedgerows and there is plenty of wildlife to see, freed at last from the stresses of the breeding season.

So, how does your garden look? A bit ‘backendish’ as my granddad used to say?

I realise now exactly what he meant as almost overnight plants bolt, send up or get top heavy and keel over. Others give up the ghost altogether and, after some autumn winds or heavy rain, September gardens can turn from pleasant, pretty places to wild-looking, untamed jungles! Often much tidying is required, but do this with a light touch. Remember that jungles are perfect habitat for many wild creatures. I doubt that we’ll find lions, tigers or zebra lurking but insects, such as butterflies, bees and moths will be seeking late-flowering plants for a feed and safe, sheltered spots for the winter.

Birds may also lurk, moulting feathers worn out during the spring and summer. Lovely new ones will soon appear to help them to keep warm during the colder months to come. Shrubs and hedges can be trimmed but avoid any late nesters and try not to remove berries or nuts: nature’s winter larder.

As far as birds are concerned, September usually sees off the last of our summer migrants with a few stragglers into October and it is usually too early for the winter visitors to replace them. But during Indian summers butterflies make a welcome splash of colour as they make the most of late flowers. Surprisingly, many of these are migrants too, including beautiful red admirals and painted ladies.

They breed around the Mediterranean and in North Africa producing large swarms that fly north each spring to breed throughout Europe. To think that such delicate creatures make long, hazardous journeys is quite staggering. Some will even attempt a return journey although often without success. They all struggle to survive a British winter so enjoy them while you can.

Find out about how you can help Give Nature a Home in your outside space by visiting (www.rspb.org.uk/homes) andclaiming your free guide. 

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