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Summer in the Garden: The Alan Titchmarsh Column

This month, Alan Titchmarsh discusses an array of wildlife we may not expect to see in our gardens over the summer months.

Think of our gardens in summer and you can probably come up with the same old things that make those outside spaces such pleasurable places to spend time in. There are flowers such as roses, lavender, foxgloves, delphiniums; there’s all that lush green grass that offers visual magnificence with an aroma that is as unique as it is unmistakable. Beyond that, there’s the beauty of climbing plants such as ivy, clematis and honeysuckle.

And of course, the odd bat. Hang on, did I just say that?!

Well I did, and it’s true.Bats in the summer in our gardens are common, albeit not the first thing you would immediately think of.

And while you’re there, have a look for grass snakes, stag beetles, slow worms, glowworms, foxes, and even rare amphibians such as the great crested newt. And what about the humble hedgehog, or the sparky sparrowhawk? Few of these animals we would confidently associate with summer gardens, but they are there, they are present, and if we seek them out, they can truly enrich our admiration for this wonderful habitat and where life – beyond flowers and plants – is shown to flourish.

So while the summer months typically enable us to sit back, relax and enjoy the immediate visual beauty of our gardens, the truth is there is so much more going on behind the scenes. You’ll see all this if you delve a bit deeper into your outside space, and can attract the wonderful visitors – all the while supporting local biodiversity – by ensuring you are planting native species, by providing water sources, as well as creating habitats like log piles or compost heaps.

The fact is, while we look on our gardens primarily as places that stimulate our senses so spectacularly, it’s worth remembering they are habitats for all manner of wonderful little creatures and critters, and we are all, at times, guilty of forgetting their existence.

My recommendation this year is to give a bit more back to animal life – even if that means keeping the grass a bit longer than you usually would – because you’ll be surprised at just how much more your garden evolves.

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