THE POTTED GARDEN:
It’s not just plants that thrive in gardens, birds love them – and they love them even more when there’s a birdbath to visit
Water helps keep a bird’s body cool both from the inside and outside. Offering water in your garden will attract more birds than just those looking for food, since birds that would not normally visit feeders can be tempted by water features.
Birds fly to birdbaths for the water they need – for drinking and for grooming – and whilst they are there they will hunt for the insects, worms, seeds and flower parts they like to eat. In the process they will help aerate the soil, help tidy up dead plant material and help keep plants healthy as they devour pests.
The best birdbaths are normally shallow with sloping sides, rather than deep pools of water. The shallow pitch lets smaller birds wade in, where they can stand up and clean their feathers instead of having to jump in.
Leave plenty of open space around the birdbath as well, so that birds can see any predators from far off. Also, place the birdbath near a perch of some sort, such as a small open tree or on a trellis or arbor. That lets birds scan the horizon from high up before swooping in to the bath.
The simplest birdbath is a terracotta plant pot saucer with some small stones – and is very easy to make yourself.
Just grab a large terracotta plant pot and saucer, some all-purpose glue for outside use and some rounded stones (about the size of a plum). Turn the pot upside down and scrub the base clean. Then apply a generous layer of waterproof glue to the base. Place the saucer on the base of the pot, settling it into the glue. Leave it for 24 hours to ensure that the glue dries thoroughly. Place the birdbath in a suitable spot, add some stones so birds can perch to drink and then add some fresh, clean water.
The pebbles also provide an escape route for honeybees that are frequent visitors to bird baths as they need water to regulate temperature within the colony on hot summer days.
If pots and containers are just part of your outside space then here are some gardening tips for this month from the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society):
• Water tubs and plants, but be water-wise
• Hoe any sun loving weeds
• Place conservatory plants outside now that it is warm
• Deadhead plants to ensure continuous flowering
• Keep ponds topped up and clear of algae
• Order catalogues for next year’s spring-flowering bulbs
• Give the lawn a quick-acting summer feed and mow regularly
• Give outside woodwork a lick of paint or preserver, while the weather is dry