Animals, Bird Baths, Charlie, How To, Water Features, Wildlife

Winter can ruffle a few feathers for birds.
Winter can ruffle a few feathers for birds.

For wild birds in particular, winter can be a harsh time of year. As they are unable to hibernate like many other species, the ones that don’t migrate to warmer climes have to fend for themselves during the cold winter days and nights. As the temperature plummets, the sparsity of food can lead to their fat reserves being depleted, and ice can freeze over bird baths, leaving even water hard to find. For these reasons quite a few birds will disappear from your garden completely during the winter – these include house martins, swallows and varieties of warbler. Conversely, such are the patterns of migrating birds, that some will make an appearance only for winter – coming from colder climates such as Scandinavia. These include waxwings, bramblings and redwings. But whether the species of bird in your garden are winter visitors or year-round residents, there are things you can do to ensure that they survive the cold.

Bird Baths

Winter bird bath.
Note: Do not let this happen to your birdbath!

One thing you can do is set up a bird bath in your garden, if you haven’t already. Primrose has a huge range of bird baths, from simple bowls to elaborate fountains. Bird baths not only provide water for birds, but also give you a chance to see your feathered friends in all their glory, as they provides a natural gathering point for birds. Remember to break any ice and clear away any snow that forms over the birdbath during cold snaps, as this happening will leave birds unable to drink. Alternatively, you could place a small, light float in the water to prevent your bird bath from freezing over completely should the cold strike, or pour warm water over the birdbath. Whatever you do, it is important never to add any chemicals, even something as innocuous as salt could have adverse effects on the birds themselves. However, in both summer and winter it is a good idea to clean out and replace the water in your birdbath regularly to prevent disease.

Feeding Stations

Bird Cakes, as shown in this feeding station, are a great idea for birds in the winter.
Bird Cakes, as shown in this feeding station, are a great idea for birds in the winter.

As well as water, another thing birds need is food – this is especially true during the winter months as there is less natural food is available. This is where a good bird table or feeder can come in handy! It is best to locate them at an altitude, so groundlings cannot steal the bird food, and to keep the birds’ feeding area out of reach of predators. Stock it up with high protein seeds, but more importantly many birds’ fat reserves get depleted during winter so using fat cuttings or lard from the kitchen to create a “bird cake”, by cooking the fat or lard and then mixing it in with the seeds. This will create a fattening snack for birds to peck at, which can then be hung on trees or placed on a feeding station, or perhaps both. It is actually quite important to vary the way in which you distribute the food around the garden, as some birds are more comfortable using a hanging bird feeder, while others much prefer a flat surface upon which to graze. Like with birdbaths, hygiene can be important with your feeding stations too. Make sure that food stayed in the feeder, and clean up any crumbs or droppings that pile up at the bottom, as these can attract pests. Also be sure to clean up uneaten food, as this can create disease.

Shelter and Safety

Shelter from the elements and protection from predators are also important components of bird care in the winter. Having a prickly bush near your birdbaths or bird feeder will give your birds not only shelter from the elements but also somewhere to hide in case of predators, have too many shrubs, however, and this could provide a spot to predators to stalk their prey – for this reason it might be best to place these items out in the open. You might also want to invest in, or perhaps build, a roosting station for your birds to provide an especially safe place for them. To help ward off the birds’ most common predator, you could also invest in a cat scarer, to help keep your bird baths and feeding stations safe and clear from these animals. Or if you own a cat – put a bell on it. Birds will only settle into a routine of feeding at a particular spot once they are sure that spot is safe, so its important to try and keep it clear of predators.

Follow this advice and you’re sure to give our feathered friends a helping hand in making it through to the spring.

CharlieCharlie works in the Primrose marketing team, mainly on online marketing.

When not writing for the Primrose Blog, Charlie likes nothing more than a good book and a cool cider.

To see the rest of Charlie’s posts, click here.

Animals, Geoff, How To, Infographics, Insects, Mice & Rats, Pest Advice, Pest Control, Slugs & Snails, Spiders, Wildlife

Having trouble with keeping pests at bay? Ever wondered what sort of creepy crawlies could be lurking in your home? If you would like to minimize the chance of ever meeting them, our simple infographic guide can help you understand where to look, and how to prevent these pests from infesting your home.

How to Deal With Household Pests Infographic

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GeoffGeoff works within the Primrose marketing team, primarily on anything related to graphics and design.

He loves to keep up with the latest in music, film and technology whilst also creating his own original art and his ideal afternoon would be lounging in a sunny garden surrounded by good food, drink and company provided there is a football nearby.

While not an expert, his previous job involved landscaping so he’s got some limited experience when gardening.

See all of Geoff’s posts.

Gardening, Geoff, How To, Wildlife

My Tiny Plot

1-tinyplotGillian Carson talks through some great ideas for how to make the most of every corner of your garden or allotment, from home growing (and eating!) to creating gorgeous photo spots. She has some great recipes to try out such as banana cake and simple red currant jam, which offer some great inspiration when deciding on things to grow yourself.

Emma the Gardener

2-emmagardenerEmma Cooper shares a variety of fantastic garden related content from photos, videos, reviews to even her very own books. She has a great enthusiasm for sustainable living and gives advice on how to achieve this, with a particular focus on edibles.

You Grow Girl

3-growgirlThis blog started by author Gayla Trail, provides a great insight into the many different sides to gardening, all with a splash of humour. From tips on what to grow, gardening inspiration, recipes and other creative garden goodness, this is definitely a blog not to miss.

The Gardening Shoe

4-gardenshoeNorfolk-based garden enthusiast, Sarah Shoesmith, is a wildlife friendly gardener who posts a great variety of articles. With help from her two chickens Hippy and Herby, Sarah produces a mixture of general advice, gardening trends, tongue-in-cheek humour and beautiful photography.

John Grimshaw’s Garden Diary

5-johngrimshawJohn Grimshaw is Director of the Yorkshire Arboretum and gives personal accounts of his day to day life through the use of his blog. As a botanist and an author, he displays a great knowledge of plants and gardens, showing off many areas of rural England through fantastic high quality photography.

Secret Garden Club

6-secretgardenKerstin Rodgers began a secret restaurant in 2009 and shares her experiences, knowledge and small recipes through her blog. It is full of DIY gardening tips and planting advice with a focus on growing your very own edible garden. If practical learning is more your thing, Kerstin and Zia of the Secret Garden Club run workshops which can be booked through the blog.

The Patient Gardener’s Weblog

7-patientgardenerHelen Johnstone started her blog in 2008 to simply record how her garden developed while taking on an outdoor overhaul. Since then it has become a hugely varied blog with Helen keeping close tabs on comments and interacting with users. Posts on general gardening, weekly updates, Helen’s other interests outside of the garden (such as sewing and crochet), and her ever popular End of Month Views have certainly made The Patient Gardener a regular visit for many keen gardeners.

Floret Flowers

8-floretThe family-run business, Floret Flowers, was founded by Erin Benzakein when she and her family moved from the city to pursue the simple life in rural Washington. While the Benzakein family tend to the flower farm, the company’s online blog is managed by Susan Studer King. This blog is updated very regularly with content mainly consisting of seasonal flower trends, weekly updates, harvesting and flower care tips. The blog itself has a very professional and polished look which is complemented by the wonderful photography, most of which is taken by the Benzakeins themselves.

Garden Betty

9-gardenbettyLinda Ly is a blogger based in Southern California who goes by the pseudonym Garden Betty. Her blog began when she moved from the city to a coastal suburb of Los Angeles and outlines her experiences from garden novice to avid greenfinger. The blog is littered with DIY gardening tips, recipes and high quality photography, all of which has been incorporated into her best-selling book, which was released in early 2015. Linda keeps a great presence on the blog and can be seen regularly interacting with the users in the comments sections.

Urban Gardens


10-urbangardenIf you have a real love for gardening but limited space, Robin Plaskoff Horton of Urban Gardens could be just what you need. Her blog shares some of the weird and wonderful in urban garden design, ideal for city dwellers in tight spaces.

GeoffGeoff works within the Primrose marketing team, primarily on anything related to graphics and design.

He loves to keep up with the latest in music, film and technology whilst also creating his own original art and his ideal afternoon would be lounging in a sunny garden surrounded by good food, drink and company provided there is a football nearby.

While not an expert, his previous job involved landscaping so he’s got some limited experience when gardening.

See all of Geoff’s posts.

Animals, Cat, Composting, Garden Tools, How To, Infographics, Pest Control, Slugs & Snails, Spiders, Wildlife

Even if you love tending to your garden as much as we do here at Primrose, we bet you’d probably jump at the chance to spend less time on your knees pulling up weeds and a bit more time relaxing with friends and family.

To help you do just that and make the most of what will hopefully be a sun-filled summer, we’ve unearthed some of the best time-saving gardening hacks. As well as hacks to help you get your garden chores completed a little sooner, you’ll find advice for repelling pests, attracting butterflies and finding out whether your soil is acidic or alkaline.

And while we haven’t found out how to grow a money tree yet, there are plenty of cost-cutting tips to help your cash stretch a little further!

30 Gardening Hacks

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wedding-meCat works in the marketing team and is responsible for online marketing, social media and the newsletter.

She spends most of her time reading about a variety of interesting facts, such as oddly named Canadian towns, obscure holidays and unusual gardening.

She mostly writes about Primrose news and current events.

See all of Cat’s posts.

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