The clocks have changed, the frosts have arrived and Strictly is well under way. It can only mean one thing – winter is creeping ever closer! And whilst we can snuggle indoors with our central heating and cosy PJs, life’s not quite as comfortable for some of our garden friends. So we have created a blog with 3 ways to help wildlife this winter in your own back garden…
If you’re anything like us you will be singing Mary Poppins as you read this! But feeding the birds is an incredibly simple way to help our feathered friends. Pop up a range of bird feeders and you can quickly be feeding them fat balls and various seeds and nuts. You will be rewarded with a display of lots of lovely birds in your garden who will also help keep garden pests at bay. Remember to leave some water out for drinking and bathing too.
Hedgehogs are brilliant for the garden, munching away on your slugs and snails. Encourage them to stay in your garden by creating a home in a quiet, untouched corner of the garden. You can buy a hedgehog house in your local garden centre or if you are feeling creative you couild build your own with some pieces of wood. Remember to clear out your hedgehog house each year to keep it free from pests (make sure there are no hedgehogs resident at the time of cleaning!) Keeping a corner of your garden a little bit untidy with piles of leaves will encourage hedgehogs into your garden too. ALWAYS check bonfires before lighting them at this time of year too to make sure no hedgehogs have made a home there.
Another wonderful wildlife creature you should encourage are bats. They eat squillions of midges every night so they have got to be a firm friend! We love watching our local bats swooping around at dusk giving us an amazing display! Buy or make a bat box but make sure you locate it in a suitable place. It should be a minimum of 10 foot off the ground, higher if possible. It should be in a sunny location, getting at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight every day. Try and shelter the boxes from the wind and ideally locate them close to where they will be feeding, close to hedges and trees.
If you can do at least one, if not all of these three simple jobs this winter your wildlife garden will thrive and these wee creatures will be very thankful.
We had the absolute pleasure of staying in Nairn last week for the school’s October break. Nearby lies Brodie Castle, so with membership cards in hand, we scooted along the road to see what we would discover in our latest NTS adventure…
As you would expect, our focus is always on the outside space which is not lacking at Brodie. Being late in the season, there was no-one in the ticket hut but we managed to find a member of staff who pointed us to walks around the grounds where we could tire Noodle out. We headed for the aptly named Swan Pond. There is a gorgeous dog-friendly walk around the pond and through the woodland which the whole family loved.
There are lovely bird hides along the way and we stopped and enjoyed the views and the wildlife as we walked around.
By this point the kids were ready to explore the Adventure play park. Dogs aren’t allowed so Noodle and I continued our stroll while the kids burnt off some energy.
After a quick lunch we were ready to explore the main event – the Playful Garden. And my goodness, we were NOT disappointed. The relatively small area is packed to the gunnels with fun things to explore. The kids enjoyed twirling themselves around on the spinning tops.
The tall mirrored posts make an impressive feature as soon as you enter the garden and lots of fun was had running around them and peering around.
Spinning the drums to make the pictures inside come to life was great fun for the kids and would suit children of all images.
A miniature model of Brodie Castle is the coolest playhouse for the kids to explore and make them feel like giants!
(Almost) everything is interactive in Brodie Castle and these metal horses and unicorns were great for climbing on.
Music is a huge part of the sensory experience in the Playful Garden and can be heard throughout. There were lots of tubular bells, xylophones and timpani drums to explore and kept the girls entertained for a long time.
Playful mounds with in-built tunnels were just amazing to watch the kids play and hide in. A worthy addition to any large outdoor space for kids if budget allows.
An island had been created in the garden with water around all sides and large stepping stones allowing the only access. Only the brave can make it across – but will they make it back??
The signature piece in the Playful Garden is the giant bunny which you see as soon as you come in. Children are encouraged not to slide and climb on Brodie Bunny but it’s an amazing sight to experience.
The gardens are wheelchair friendly and the majority of things in the garden are accessible to everyone with lots of sensory experiences. The only down side is that dogs are not allowed in the Playful Garden. Perhaps if they could be allowed on lead to the tables outside the cafe that could be an option to improve the customer experience. We didn’t pop into the castle as dogs aren’t allowed and it’s by guided tour only which takes an hour and we didn’t want to leave Noodle for any longer. For us it’s all about the outdoor spaces anyway! We highly recommend a visit to Brodie, especially to the Playful Garden.