In the bleak midwinter ....

Our midwinter gardens play a waiting game, autumn’s leaves cover the bare soil with a protective mulch and underneath the fallen seeds of next year’s generation of plants are patiently biding their time.

In my garden the young hedgehog I tried to fatten up with a nightly feed, should I hope, be tucked up safe and sound sleeping the cold dark days away snuggled in his duvet of dry grass and leaves behind a pile of logs and under the shelter of a big old hedge.

My honey bees are warm and dry in their hives and although I can’t see them I’m confident that the tawny mining bees are safely hibernating in their vertical shafts under my meadow lawn.

Only the birds seem active now as they forage for the fuel to keep their little bodies warm enough to survive the long cold nights. Gold finches are daily visitors to my garden and the niger seed seems to be a magnet for them so the least I can do is keep the feeders topped up and a bowl of fresh water full in case the pond should freeze over.

I’m so pleased at least they look to be thriving but I haven’t seen a thrush or a green finch for months and I know, as we all do, that nature is in need of help.

Our planet has lost 60% of its wild life since the 1970s and their habitats which we have destroyed, teeming wetlands, mile up mile of hedgerows and countless acres of wild flower meadows can never be replaced by our gardens, but each one has the potential to be home, shelter and source of food for numerous insects, mammals, amphibians and birds.

Together our gardens cover an area larger than all our national parks put together so the potential to benefit wildlife is huge.

We depend for our own survival on the natural world so the very least we can do is to give back where we can and our gardens are the perfect place to begin. This winter if we all plant just one tree, buy seeds of flowers for pollinators, take all the pesticides to the tip, leave an area untouched for wildlife and most of all resolve to do much better by our natural world next year.

Christmas is a time for giving, so lets give a gift to nature that really matters, the chance to have a future.