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Autumn is in the air

Last modified: 26 August 2014

Cotoneaster berries in gardens at the Lodge

Image: Andy Hay

The past week has seen a real change in the weather, with dropping temperatures, squally showers and gale-force winds.

There’s still a month to go until autumn officially starts but already the evenings are starting to draw in and there are strong signs of the new season, with ripe hawthorn and holly berries already shining red in some hedgerows!

As the nights gradually become colder, birds and other wildlife will be seen preparing for the winter to come. Migratory species like swifts and swallows are getting ready to leave for Africa, soon to be replaced by birds like whooper swans which travel here from colder climes.

Autumn is definitely my favourite season for getting outdoors – there’s nothing better than wrapping up warm and heading out to see the leaves changing colour, from gorgeous golds to russetty reds..

It’s also a great time of year to spot weird and wonderful fungi growing in the woods, like at Castle Caldwell in County Fermanagh along the shores of our Lower Lough Erne islands reserve.
Although autumn is when gardeners traditionally start to clear up, you can easily adopt a more natural approach to help and encourage wildlife on your doorstep.

Leaving seed-heads on plants like thistles and sunflowers provides food and shelter for wildlife through the colder months and deadheading plants like buddleia will keep them flowering well into the autumn, providing a valuable food supply for bees and butterflies.

While the size of your garden might limit what you can plant, it's possible to garden for wildlife on even the smallest balcony or terrace. Containers are great for growing plants in and can even be used to create a mini-pond!

For more tips on giving nature a home in your garden this autumn, visit Giving Nature a Home

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