In many gardener’s eyes, April is the gem of the year, for it brings an abundance of life to our outdoor spaces – that must be why the birthstone for April is a diamond!
In cooperation with Vivara, I’ve put together a guide to some of the wildlife that you can spot, the gardening jobs you can do, and the plants that you can install in your garden in April in the UK. This will hopefully help you make the most out of the wildlife in your area and help it thrive!
Wildlife to look out for in April
A goldcrest is a perching bird (or ‘passerine’) whose name comes from its golden crest of feathers, which really are a sight to behold. The females of the species are distinguished by their yellow head crests, while the males sport orange and yellow colours. It won’t hang around for long, however, as it’s constantly on the move looking for food!
During the breeding season, this bird sticks to mountain lowlands and dense forests featuring spruces,firs and pines. Once breeding is over, it’ll move to more open areas, such as heathlands.
Orange tip butterfly
Though a common sight, this butterfly is still wonderful to look at for the brilliantly orange tips on its otherwise white wings. With a wing span of around 45 to 50mm, it’s on the smaller side of medium, but thanks to its colouring, you won’t miss it!
This butterfly can be found fluttering around hedgerows, and makes its home in damp meadows and woodland glades, but it’s also a keen visitor to British gardens.
Bloody nosed beetle
This doesn’t sound like the most attractive name for a beetle, but it comes from its defense mechanism of shooting blood-red liquid from its mouth when threatened. It’s a flightless beetle that is happiest at home in hedgerows, grassland and heathland, and it commonly feeds on Lady’s Bedstraw, where it also lays its eggs.
The best time to look out for this beetle is at night, when it’s most active.
Wildlife jobs to do in April
Avoid removing caterpillars
Caterpillars may be annoying when they chomp at your plants, but they’re essential food for birds, who will be nesting and breeding at this time of year. If you don’t want caterpillars to eat particular plants in your garden, wrap insect barrier fabrics around them to deter the insects. You could even go one step further by planting caterpillar-friendly plants, such as nasturtiums and nettles, in another area of the garden specifically for caterpillars to eat.
Make a bee hotel
Bee hotels are small enclosures made from (preferably) natural materials such as wood, that are perfect for housing solitary bees, who commonly lay their eggs in tree cavities. Place your bee hotel in an area where it won’t be waving around in the wind, but where it will also get full sun. If you can’t make your own bee hotel, you can find one here.
Empty your compost bin
Hibernating wildlife often use compost bins as shelter during the winter. By this time of year, they should have moved on, so gently use gloved hands or a shovel or spade to use your compost to mulch your plants.
Try to avoid using a garden fork, as there could be the possibility of lingering wildlife in the compost pile.
Wildlife plants for April
Viola Tiger Eyes
These beautiful gold flowers feature dark brown veins that create a really eye catching pattern that pops in containers and beds. It’s a bushy and compact plant that is attractive to pollinators, including bees.
Anemone Mr Fokker
Anemones are ideal additions to the front of a border, thanks to their fairly short height of 25cm. This beautiful violet variety is as pleasing to the eye as it is to bees and hoverflies, who adore its nectar and open bowl-shaped flowers.
This double daffodil is far from the traditional yellow blooms we’re used to – instead it produces vanilla, peach and coral flowers that are as buxom as they are beautiful. There’s some debate about whether daffodils produce enough pollen for insects to bother visiting them, but they do actually make warm micro-environments for insects of all sorts.
Take a look at Vivara’s wide selection plants for wildlife here.
What are you doing to help the wildlife in your garden this March? Let me know in the comments below!
Michael has been involved with gardening and plants since he was just five years old. He is a self-professed Plant Geek, and was listed in the Sunday Times top 20 most influential people in the gardening world, thanks to his plant hunter role at Thompson & Morgan.
Michael was responsible for new plant introductions such as the Egg and Chips plant and the FuchsiaBerry and keeps busy travelling the world in search of new plants as well as lecturing worldwide, including stints in Japan. He is very active on social media – so why not give him a follow at @mr_plantgeek or Facebook. You can also listen to The Plant Based Podcast with Michael and co-host Ellen-Mary on iTunes, Spotify and Google.