Hints & Tips
Many parts of Britain experienced their first sub-zero temperatures of the winter over the past few days, leaving motorists de-frosting windows and pedestrians having to layer up warmly.
However, it isn't just people who find things more difficult when a big freeze arrives – garden birds have it particularly tough.
The end of November and beginning of December mark a significant decline in available hedgerow food, just as migrant birds come to compete with our native species.
Furthermore, the hard ground means grubs and other nutritious foodstuffs are hidden from hungry beaks, meaning it can be very difficult for birds to eat enough.
To give them a hand, green-fingered individuals have been advised to pick up their garden tools and plant something that produces berries.
The gardening experts at the Yorkshire Post said blackbirds will appreciate cotoneasters, while waxwings, redwings, fieldfares and starlings enjoy the fruit of rowans.
Mountain ash and common hawthorn will also be a bountiful addition to any green space.
"Gardeners should grow at least a couple of fruiting shrubs or trees to provide a valuable food source for wildlife, shelter for birds and insects – and interest in the garden at what is normally the darkest and dullest time of the year," the article commented.
A mixed hedge with honeysuckle, spindle, wild rose, elder and holly was particularly recommended for "calorific" purposes, although this will take longer to establish (even using good tree pruners) and won't be ready in time for this winter.
Firethorn may also be helpful in gardens where cats are a problem, as its thorns will put them off and it bears tasty fruit for creatures hiding within.
"Birds are vital to the garden, so thank them for all their hard work by giving them a bite to eat," the article concluded.
In an article for the Daily Telegraph, author of The Garden in the Clouds Antony Woodward recently called green spaces "the final resort" for creatures struggling with habitat loss.