BatChat

Gardening for bats with Joel Ashton

November 11, 2020 Bat Conservation Trust Season 2 Episode 15
BatChat
Gardening for bats with Joel Ashton
Show Notes Transcript

S2E13 Remember seeing bats over your garden years ago and suddenly realised that they've vanished over time? Wildlife garden landscaper Joel Ashton reveals how you can help attract bats to your greenspace by greening up a fence and planting certain species to increase insect diversity which in turn will provide your local bats with a buffet! At the Bat Conservation Trust we have a vision of a world rich in wildlife where bats and people thrive together and Joel is helping achieve that vision, one garden at a time. So tune in and discover how to get bats reappearing against the evening skies of your home.


Join the conversation on social media using #BatChat:
 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BatConservationTrust/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/_BCT_
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/batconservationtrust/

For more bat news, head to our website https://www.bats.org.uk/

Producer: Steve Roe @SteveRoeBatMan
Cover Art: Rachel Hudson http://rachelhudsonillustration.com/info

Thank you to Wildcare and Wildlife Acoustics for sponsoring the BatChat Podcast in 2022-2023.
Quote BATCHAT at the Wildcare checkout for 10% off all bat detectors!
Visit wildlifeacoustics.com to learn more.


We're running a Listener Survey
We’d really appreciate it if you could answer a few quick questions about BatChat so that we can bring you the best possible content for future series.
You can leave your answer anonymously if you'd prefer: https://forms.office.com/e/VAvudX7NFr 

Support the show

Please leave us a review or star rating if your podcast app allows it because it helps us to reach a wider audience so that we can spread the word about how great bats are. How to write a podcast review (and why you should).

Bats are magical but misunderstood. At BCT our vision is a world rich in wildlife where bats and people thrive together. Action to protect & conserve bats is having a positive impact on bat populations in the UK. We would not be able to continue our work to protect bats & their habitats without your contribution so if you can please donate. We need your support now more than ever: www.bats.org.uk/donate Thank you!

Steve Roe:

Hello, and welcome back to Bat Chat the podcast from the Bat Conservation Trust. I'm Steve row here at BCT. We have a vision of a world rich and wildlife where bats and people thrive together. And my guest this week is helping you achieve that vision. One garden at a time, recorded in mid October at the top of a sloping meadow in Northamptonshire, while socially distanced. I chatted to Joel Ashton sat underneath huge sycamore trees with two mature hedgerows running either side of us down to a private house at the bottom of the meadow, where Joe's team were busy constructing a wildlife pond. So it's mid October, and I've had a short drive down to Daventry, Northamptonshire and I'm with Joel Ashton, otherwise known as one of the butterfly brothers from Hazelwood landscapes. Joel do you just want to introduce yourself and what the company does.

Joel Ashton:

Yeah, so I have spent effectively the last 15 years designing and installing habitats for wildlife. And it's something that has become a lot more commonplace, I think nowadays, which is obviously great for business. But first, first and foremost is more important for wildlife. And yeah, so I now travel around the country, with my team of guys who do some long hours, but it's all for the benefit of wildlife in the end. So yeah, and then that's, that's, that's effectively my job. And Hazelwood landscapes are obviously the limited company that I set up in 2005 to carry out these works and to help make the habitats for wildlife.

Steve Roe:

And is the work more to do with private landowners, or do you work for all sorts of different people?

Joel Ashton:

So it's a bit of a mix, really, I'd say probably 80% are domestic clients. So people like yourself or somebody with a might be a small terraced garden in central London or it might be somebody with who's fortunate enough to like this, for example, to have a couple of acres but also do work a lot with people at the Wildlife Trust, RSPB Butterfly Conservation. So help, you know, either maintain habitats or create new habitat. So and that's obviously a little bit more landscape scale all the time. But yeah, bit of a varied mix, really, mostly domestic.

Steve Roe:

So the theme for today's podcast is telling our listeners how they can welcome back into their own gardens or green spaces that they might have a home. You're working on this private dwelling down in Northamptonshire. Can you just tell us what we're doing down at the bottom here.

Joel Ashton:

Yeah, so we were contacted to effectively create a wildflower meadow and sort of went from there really. So we we now we now have ended up creating some some steps through a little woodland walk which will effectively be planted with native herbaceous perennials, native shrubs, and there's a wildlife pond as well we're doing now which will be obviously a fantastic resource for bats and lots of other life we've had a grey wagtail rather frustrated, flying around waiting for us to get out of the picture so it can come down never have a wander around the edges, which is great, they're already ready to move in. And effectively then there's about probably a quarter of an acre or there abouts a wildflower meadow just wrapping around that and which will then spread into this wider field. Which of course will be a great hunting ground for the local barn owls, casseroles and everything else. So yeah, a bit of a bit of a, I should say a field edge project garden into field edge if you feel if you like and we're surrounded by these wonderful mature trees. As you can see, we've got some fantastic, really, really old oak trees, sycamores mixed deciduous woodland, and these brilliant hedgerows, of course, which are unmanaged. And now that the current landowners of this property are looking after these hedges, of course, they won't be flowered every year. And as you can see now mid October full of berries, great for the Red Wings and the fieldfares, which I've just started hearing in the last couple of days coming in over the field. So yeah, it's a really nice mix of habitats around here and hopefully, the pond and the wildflower meadow down the bottom will be the epicentre of it.

Steve Roe:

It's not your typical garden is it, it's fairly large!

Joel Ashton:

I'm only slightly envious

Steve Roe:

and I mean we've mentioned pond said a couple of times and when when people talk about wildlife gardening and when you say on Springwatch notion, what's the one thing they always mentioned is a pond. What is it about ponds that are the key thing for wildlife.

Joel Ashton:

They're just such an amazing resource. I mean, you name any species in this country, it will rely on water, you know, so whether that is a wood mouse coming down for drink, whether that's a hedgehog, grey wagtail I've just mentioned obviously dragonflies, damselflies, frogs, toads, newts, all the kind of normal associated animals that you would see or expect to see around upon, but it's everything really and other things as well like like bees. You know, I see many bees in some of the wildlife ponds on creating just sat there on one of the lily pads, you know, having a drink and you don't think about that in terms of Abies lifecycle, but of course, they do take on on water. So that's great. And of course, all of wildflowers around the margins so things like purple loosestrife, ragged Robin in the greater birdsfoot trefoil hemp agrimony they're all brilliant for all the insects you know. So the butterflies, moths, bees, hoverflies and everything else. So effectively you can have a mini wildflower meadow around the margins, you've got the water for all your invertebrates as well. So things like pond skaters or dragonfly larvae damsel fly larvae, of course for that part of their lifecycle. And then of course, for bats, which we can't forget. And of course, a lot of the food that that's released will be mosquitoes. So of course, they're I think it's two to 3000 a night they can eat, isn't it something phenomenal like that. So so of course a pond any pond is going to produce mosquito larvae if it's near some sort of trees or some sort of cover. And, of course, the bats will then gorge upon this during the evening. So yeah, they're just an amazing source of life. So you can't really beat them.

Steve Roe:

And you say any pond, can they literally be any size as well?

Unknown:

They can. I mean, obviously, the smaller you go, the harder it is for the bigger larvae of you know, some of our bigger dragonflies sort of Emperor's so then hawkers, that sort of thing, the dragonfly, the nymphs if you like, which can sometimes be two or three years in this this form, before they emerges out of dragonfly. They're going to be they're going to eat a lot. Simply, they they will, they are voracious eaters. So they will they will get through a fair lot of invertebrates. So obviously, the smaller you go, the less food there is for them. So the less likely you are going to be able to sustain a population of them of course, but but any water body is better than no water body and I get so many people come to me and say, I've only got a balcony or courtyard garden, what can I do? And I will almost instantly say get yourself a wildlife barrel or a little barrel pond. And I've done a little video on my YouTube channel. Which if anyone's interest is wild you garden with Joel Ashton after the book, of course, and that that is there's a little how-to on there. And the amount of people I get saying, oh there's dragonflies and damselflies coming to inspect, you know, literally a week after it's gone in the garden, you know, I mean, I've got two on my patio. I've got a little wildlife pond as well, but but I've got to my patio. And God alone knows how the newts and the frogs get in. Because they're quite steep sided. But they do, there's always a little frog on one of the lily pads or, you know, so even a barrel pond. And of course, the beauty of our pond is you haven't got to dig it out the ground. If you move out, you can empty it take the contents in a couple of buckets and away you go. So even a barrel pond can be you know, a fantastic source for a lot of life.

Steve Roe:

And a lot of the advice out there that talks about gardening that say that it's key that the flowering plants put in our night flowering. What are your preferred night flying plants when you're doing gardening?

Unknown:

So the Nicotiana a very good one tobacco plants obviously very good. I just bought some of those seeds this autumn ready for next year! Generally I found white flowering plants are very good. So things like heebies for example. And of course night scented stocks as well. But in general, I mean burglars as well. I know it's a little bit controversial. A lot of people say Oh, well, they're invasive. But you know, I think managing the garden setting they're fine. And buddleja are fantastic. I mean, I've always got silver Y moths, you know, visiting the buddlejas every year in the garden. And so they're really good. And of course, your day flying moths as well. Things like your hummingbird Hawk moss are going to love things like valerian. Red valerian that is. But going back to your question, I think on the night side of things, yes, certainly white flowered plants are found do work very well. And the two or three species have just named it probably the better ones, I would say.

Steve Roe:

Okay, and what about climbing plants? So they are a good way to transform things like fences and habitats as well.

Unknown:

Definitely. Yeah, I'm a big advocate. I'd like to think for these. They're one of my favourite habitats actually, because of course so many people are nearly everybody who's got a garden has got a fence and just by adding some simple trellis in or a bit more of a kind of a bespoke structure. Obviously please check if the fence is yours first need to get any, any trouble with the neighbours, but but but fences are a brilliant way of including some vertical habitat in your garden and not only is it great for you nesting birds block, black birds, robins song thrushes, ducks, you know. It's also good of course, as you suggest for having some flowering varieties growing up there, so things such as honey circle, winter flowering Janet Jasmine, honey circle, of course, is a real favourite for a lot of the hot moss species. So obviously hawk moth is a rather tasty snack for a bat. It's not that it's nice, I think of fabulously fresh Hawkmoth, bean Munch. And actually, I've I've seen them before I've actually heard on nights when it's you know, you just get these nights sometimes in the air, don't you when you see that, you know, a certain species will just come out in vast number and I've actually heard bats crunching overhead the wing cases are the wings and the wing cases of insects. You know, unfortunately, I've actually had Hawk Moth wings landed next to me, but it's all part of it, you know, and I think that so honey circle is a brilliant one. Obviously you got things like old man's beard. And I really really like the forgive my pronunciation on this one, I believe it's Trachelospermum jasminoides, which is the star Jasmine as it's known. And that's a really strong scent in the evening. And so that is a good one for almost as well but again, like I say, Honeysuckle is a bit hard to beat really because it does obviously give off a lot of scent for insects, particularly and it's stronger in the evening. So yeah, definitely use that and I say, you know, why would you rather look at a fence you know, compared to a green living wall which could be teeming with life. So yeah, definitely if you can get some get some trellis in on those fences and get planting some climbers I had a moth trap out this year because during lockdown I started doing moth trapping and realised I was very much putting on a buffet for the bats. I had all these moths coming in and Io could just see the moth wings.

Joel Ashton:

That's exactly what I've seen. Yeah, it's a bit disheartening, but all part of it.

Steve Roe:

And if people have got large gardens are there any trees or shrubs which are better than others, and if people are thinking about their own gardens, where are the best places to plant trees and shrubs?

Unknown:

Well, so obviously the whereabouts is important because of course, you don't want to plant an oak tree, three foot from your back door. But you know, all in moderation and of course, great trees for all round. I mean, one of my favourite all round trees is the Rowan because of course you've got fantastic display of flowers in the spring. And then of course, you've got these beautiful colours this time of year when the leaves are turning sort of yellows and oranges. And but on top of that, of course, you've got all the berries so I've you know, quite often each year I will see if I'm fortunate maybe once or twice on my travels around the country to see a flock of waxwing you know, gorging on the berries and obviously they're very good for our fish species as well blackbirds, songs, wishes missile torches, and the fieldfares and redwings again that are coming in from Scandinavia now. So Rowan has a really good one crab apples good as well, obviously doesn't get too big. But even silverbirch. I mean, silverbirch is a very much a pioneer species. And obviously it will, it'll soon colonise a waste site, you know if you see an old abandoned car park or something silverbirch is no doubt coming up in the cracks. But they are really good. There's a lot of us associated moth species, particularly the larvae of which will feed on the leaves. But goat Willow, you know, the posse willows, some people might know is brilliant for for moth larvae. And again, so by providing that habitat for the moths and the caterpillars, you are then in turn, obviously providing food for the bats. So yeah, goat Willow, I would say is probably one of the better ones. Certainly, yeah. Lots of people in the last couple of years have started this thing called the No-mow May challenge. Why is May the key month for not mowing and if people want to stop mowing for longer, when are the best months to take a cut?

Joel Ashton:

So yeah, I mean, I think it's a great initiative. And it's one we should all be doing really, I mean, the amount of people that I've seen on Twitter or have contacted me to say, I put them over in the shed padlocked it, you know, and I didn't, didn't ask to use it through the whole month of May. And the results were astounding, you know, because Lauren in many instances will probably already house things like Bird's Foot trefoil, Yarrow, red clover, you know, and these are all brilliant nectar sources for our bees and moths and butterflies. So by not mowing, you're giving these plants once in a lifetime opportunity, you know, some of them maybe they're you know, dormant waiting to flower for you know, three or four years, but just not had the chance because of course, it's always always known. And by doing that, of course, you're inviting the bees and the other pollinating insects into the garden. So it's a it's a brilliant thing. And I think, obviously I'm slightly biassed, I would have a path mon through the middle and that's it. But if you can, obviously you know, Mo for and if you don't want it to, you know, last forever, then you keep it mon up until up until May don't know through May and then into June as well because by the time we get to July a lot of the species of wildflowers of course are going over there's still a few coming out so you know skibus And the arrow and things they'll go on into September of course, but but if you can, you know and you've got a portion of the garden that you're fed up of trundling up and down with with behind or in front of you then then obviously just let it grow you'd be amazed what comes up and this can in turn obviously bring a lot more life into the garden and with those insects comes the birds and you know the the mammals as well and yeah can be really nice thing so you know so so May through to July really you know an ammonia in mo in August if you want to and things you sort of Taylor and Taylor and off obviously but generally speaking the wildflower meadows that that I create and manage are the leftover year part apart from the September time this time here. We've just finished our last Haycock on one of our sites in the week But anytime, you know, September through to mid October, really is the ideal time to get your hair cut and collected. frustrates me somewhat and I won't go down this path. You know, it's a little bit controversial but I know the management regimes for a lot of verges he's a big bugbear of mine, because you you know we have them near me there's some triple OSI verges, which are full of, I mean, everything, you know, great in that we'd marjoram agrimony, birdsfoot, trefoil, red clover fields gave us great and up read less than that weed. So they're just an absolute block of colour in July. And then you see it flail the next week, and there's nothing there. And you think that was a lie that had marble whites on it last week, you had gatekeepers, you know, and it just, yeah, that's, uh, I won't go down that route today. But, but that, you know, for me is a big thing that we need to address as a country because I've seen some of the way that that verges are managed in France, for example, and other countries in Europe and, and there's a lot, there's, there's a, there's a greater sensitivity, I think, towards how these, these verges are managed, because unfortunately, now, a lot of the Wildflower strips in the country are literally down the verges and that's it, you know, what 97% of our wildflower meadows have gone in the last 100 years. So it's an alarming amount of habitat, you know, and I think where we can protect these last remaining strips, and they great corridors as well, you know, for things to move. And that's, that's key is keeping this connectivity, you know, so it's okay, having a wildlife habitat here in this field, but unless it can travel, you know, populations become isolated. And then of course, you get, you know, declines and, and things like house bearers of course, I think once they get below about 10, in a flock, they stopped breeding altogether. So unless you've got that habitat for them to, to feed on those insects that are around those wildflowers, they are going to diminish, or they just going to simply move on. So it's kind of a bit chicken in the egg, you know, you've got to have the wildflowers for the insects, but you know, which in turn brings in the birds and everything else. So yeah, I can't emphasise enough how important it is for us all have a little bit of even just to 10 square metre patch, wildflower meadow, and you'd be amazed even how much wildlife that can bring. They are a great little resource so closely followed in second place behind the pond, I would say.

Steve Roe:

I mean, I've said in it's my Twitter feed over the last couple of years when people have walked along the country lanes, particularly in lockdown again, when people were out more notice that their local verges had been mown at the wrong time of year. And there's a lot of outcry out there at the moment.

Unknown:

Yeah, but unfortunately, and I don't like to name it, but a lot of it is down to for example, Natural England's you know, guidelines, which I do think need addressing, because, you know, if you're mowing flowers that are in full flower with insects on them, why is essential it you know, it is nonsensical, really, we don't need reminding of the insect declines that are going on at the moment isn't enough in the news about it. And, you know, you've only got to watch one of David Attenborough's documentary, so to understand the problems the world is facing without mowing flowers when they're in full bloom. So, yeah, that's one that needs addressing, I think, but for the thought feel needed on that.

Steve Roe:

And lots of people asked me about putting up a bat box on the garden, which is more important, the box itself for the garden?

Joel Ashton:

Well, they sort of go hand in hand really. And of course, you know, it's okay having the garden. But if you haven't got the habitat for them to roost in then they're not going to stick around. And of course, they will travel and you'll probably know a bit more on the distances they'll travel a night than I do. What have you got any ideas on

Unknown:

that all depends on the species. So long gates will travel one or two kilometres from a roost whereas Daubenton's have been recorded. 30 Plus kilometres. Depends on species.

Joel Ashton:

Yeah, I mean, because there's, there was pipistrelles here. Unfortunately, I've been late working late enough to see them. Very nice. Actually, we've had lots of tornadoes and the trees behind us but, but they've been hunting along the edge of this tree line, which is obviously a great, great, great for them. And of course, bats will hunt, you know, along tree lines and hedge lines for those insects lifting off those associated trees and shrubs. But I should imagine there'll be in the sort of the big bits of flaking bark on some of these big sycamores and, you know, any sort of nooks and crannies, perhaps in the ivy as well where it's denser. So there's some good habitat here for them. But in a garden setting, you know, I think the important thing is to is to have them both, they're both equally as important. So by putting what what is classed as a Kenstar bat box, which is the best style you can put up in it in a back garden, from my experience anyway, some people may may have other ideas but I can't that box is a fantastic way I think there are 15 mil cavity for obviously the pepper shelf species to get inside and to loosen and I've actually seen three or four of them in some of the boxes during the datetime which is which is brilliant, you know, and they wouldn't be there. Because of course, now unfortunately, all our building methods are so efficient, you know, for the warmth and everything else, you know, everything sealed up and you can't, you know, there's no tiles sliding off the roof anymore. Like, some of the older sort of, you know, Victorian or Georgian houses, and all our faces and soffits are, you know, almost like hermetically sealed. It's just like, they can't get in. So, of course, love spaces, which of course, they used to a lot of the time are diminishing, and, you know, so the more you can put up, these camps are BakBox isn't often in, you know, groups, I often put them up in threes, or fours. And one of your other colleagues, Lisa, I did a lot for her. And, yeah, I'm looking forward to going back to see that developer because, you know, the boxes there look fantastic. You know, I think people get a bit, a little bit worried about how boxes and open houses, but you know, forget what the neighbours think it's about the wildlife. And of course, so you would want to put them, I think it's three to four metres up, isn't it for most of them to be able to get a good fight path in and out, and so on. And again, as opposed to bird boxes, which is north and east facing, you'd want them either south or west facing so that they are you know, they're likely to stay warm during the day, of course, so, so south west facing three or four metres up, I think is a great thing you can do, but then again, you've got to have the habitat for them to feed on. So you know, once your boxes are up, think about your pawns, you know, think about your headlines, think about getting some structure in that's going to attract them to go and provide insects provide food and, and then hopefully, they'll they'll stick around, they'll they'll move in. And because they're great. They're great wonders as well. And you know, they are a bit of a they are pioneers in finding new habitats as well, they can move out a bit a lot like butterflies and bees, of course. So you know, it is a case of if you build it, you know, they will come eventually, don't expect Brown, long eared or, you know, any of some of the various species to turn up. But, but certainly the paper shows in nearly in every garden I make, you know, around the country. So, yeah, they are a good one to attract and great for keeping the mosquito population down as

Unknown:

I'm glad you said Kent bat boxes, because they're the well. ones I tend to recommend because it's so much easier to track people and just check them from the ground.

Joel Ashton:

Yeah, yeah, know that they're great. And of course, you're not supposed to serve them, you know, when they are nesting, and everything. But, you know, I think a quick look is fine. And it's nice to know, because you know, you wouldn't know if it's working or not if you unless you are checking. But of course, if anybody is worried then of course they can get in touch with you guys currently on, on whether they have got to find out where they've got bats or not. All local back groups. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.

Steve Roe:

And what's the one thing that makes you grow? When you walk in somebody's garden? You think Oh, no. Why have you done that?

Unknown:

astroturf biggest problem in the world, I think that, you know, forget climate change astroturf. So the main issue? Well, he's part of it, isn't it? Yeah, really? It's, yeah, God, I can't stand that stuff. You know, he actually makes my toes girls, when I say, you know, the really, really poignant moment of this summer for me, was when I walked into a garden in South London, and the couple who have just moved in luckily, I want to completely start again, but but it was pretty much just astroturf, you know, water wall. And I was just walking from the front of the garden to back of the garden. Not sure why cuz there wasn't much else to look at. You know, and I actually saw a little grasshopper right in the middle about July time, right in the middle, this astroturf and I thought, Well, if that's not a message in itself, you know that. And I actually did a tweet about it and said, Well, are we eventually going to need plastic insects because everything in our life seems to be going that way. And I think that is such a huge, huge environmental problem, really, because it's not only just the installation of it in the loss of grasses, you know, grass as a habitat, okay. And mon lon isn't brilliant, but it still provides, you know, feeding pests potential for starlings. For example, you know, where you might have leather jackets, you know, the daddy along those grubs in the grass, which of course, they live to eat, you know, in answering everything that was but it's far better than astroturf. And, and then secondly, it's the disposal of it. So when someone's had enough of it, and they don't want to maintain it, and it looks, you know, rubbish after a few years, is then just plastic tucked in landfill. So yeah, I don't think I don't think I could top astroturf to be fair. But yeah, the one thing that really kind of kind of lifts my spirits is, is probably when I go in and see a path through the lawn, you know, mowing through the lawn because, you know, nine, nine out of 10 gardens at least probably nine and 9.9 out of 10 gardens across the country will no doubt have mostly mowed lawns which is something we need to reverse because when you walk into a garden that has meadow or just long grass. And you can hear grasshoppers. I mean, how many people listening to this now can say they've heard grasshoppers in their garden or seen a grasshopper. My last house I left a strip about a foot wide around the edges. I've got two kids and two dogs. So they are my last house. So my my views have changed I now think you know, it doesn't matter what the kids need and wildlife. They've got parks. So my house now has got a pond and a wildflower meadow. And that's it there is no there is no grass it is just meadow, herbaceous borders pond, and a path path through it. But but you know, I left 18 inches of my last house just around the edge. And it was only a terraced house with a you know, a long sort of typical narrow garden. And within a couple of weeks there were grasshoppers around the edges and that to me was such a such an achievement and I've not done anything I'd simply not moaning you know and they were they're living in the long grass so I think to have areas of long grass even in your in your garden is fantastic. And every time I walk into a garden, and it's not often we're not before I've done a garden anyway. It's not often but every now and again I just walk into another thing oh look at this, you know where you got knotweed where, where there would be just mowing grass or Marjoram popping up oxeye daisies, you know, it's a blaze of colour. And it's just I think that is just one of the best things in this country to see in my eyes. And I'm sure a lot of people will associate the thought and the sight of a wildflower meadow as one of the most bucolic images you can think of really, but unfortunately, yeah, not to not as commonplace as they used to be.

Steve Roe:

And I mean, we're recording this in mid October and people listening to this, we're going to be later into the year. Are there any time? Can you do gardening? Or start planning for wildlife at any time of year?

Joel Ashton:

Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, it's, you know, there's no, there's no, this Japanese proverb, which is the best time to plant a tree was 30 years ago, the second best time is now Yeah, which is is very true, you know, when you can sit and think about it and m&r as much as you like, but just get on with it, you know, whatever you do, there's going to be a little bit of disturbance. You know, obviously, you wouldn't want to go root into log piles in wintertime, because of course, you might be disturbing hedgehog or some news or toads. Whatever you do, you know, summertime, you've got nesting birds, you've just got to be mindful of what's going to likely be in the habitats that are in the garden already. Unless you're walking into a new build, of course, you've just got to have, you know, water wall to offence, but really the best time, the best time probably is, you know, now as you come in into autumn, you know, you can start thinking about maybe getting some of the garden cut back and cleared back. You know, as long as there's no birds obviously nesting Now apart from maybe the odd pigeon. But you know, so autumn is a very good time. And of course, that gives you a great opportunity now to buy or from November on to buy any bare root trees and shrubs. And when I say bare root obviously mean, you know without the soil, which of course you know, brings the cost down quite a bit as opposed to buying potted and containerized trees and shrubs. So so put it in Beirut trees and shrubs from November through till sort of the end of March is a great way of just literally getting some habitat in there and plant them as whips. You know, I've planted two foot whips on many jobs with for one handed in Peterborough a few years ago. And within four years, it had matured into a hedgerow and it had buried in yellowhammers in it. And that was, I mean, that was on the edge of a field. So you know, I'm not saying you'll get yellowhammers in the middle of a city but but you'll certainly get house barrows and denox, and robins and blue tees and knocked out it's moving through. So you know, plant them as whips and you'd be amazed, quite often people think I'll plant as big as I can afford, which is fine. But in my experience, you know, you can buy a 12 foot tree, and it will sit there for three years. Because I kind of use the analogy, it's a bit like giving a hip replacement to a 20 year old or an eight year old, you know, if you plant it when it's younger, it'll take a lot better to that. And they will they will shoot up. I mean, my last house, I planted some silver birch trees or a Silver Birch Tree at four foot and within five years, but the time I'd left it was 20 foot and it was his own, it looked like a tree you know, it wasn't just like a shrub anymore. So they're very quick at establishing, you know, it needs a bit of water to get them going. But of course, panting now is a perfect time October is you know, pretty much the month for planting, you know, things can get settled, they can get a little bit of growth on before the autumn. If it's a sebaceous they can get a better route down. Again, if it's trees, shrubs and that sort of thing and then they're there then they're ready for the spring. Sometimes if you if you wait and wait and wait until sort of April time. Unfortunately, you know with the weather's the seasons that go in the way they are. Things can get quite dry. Dry quite quickly, you know, March and April can be on paper and have been pretty warm in person people have had to water so, you know, I think now is a brilliant time while while there's still a little bit of warmth in the soil and they're getting the trees and shrubs in and yeah, and start putting the rest of the garden and if people just want to do one thing to encourage bats to their garden, what's

Steve Roe:

the one thing that you would do?

Joel Ashton:

Say to Yeah, so I'd put up some boxes as we just said for one, obviously some combat boxes, but the best habitat you can possibly put in a garden is obviously a pond I don't think you would have had to second guess me saying that but they are just brilliant and obviously for the bats and mosquito larvae and the insects that they're there. I actually once was filling up a pond in Hereford a couple years ago. And the same the same evening while the tap was running, obviously sometimes have to use tap water rather than rainwater unfortunately, but while while the tap was running in the pond was filling up there were there were two people shows came in, started circling the pond and it wasn't even half full, you know, so and they were actively hunting over the water because there was already a few insects attracted to it. So it's phenomenally quick, you know, so definitely without fail pond, nothing else. If you can't do anything else, no room for anything else or the finances for anything else stick a pond in definitely. Yeah.

Steve Roe:

So it's time to plug yourself you've got a book out what's that all about?

Joel Ashton:

So the book is wild you garden and as you can probably guess it's about how to instal all the features that you could possibly need in the garden. So your shrubs and trees, wildflower meadow, your wildlife pond, you herbaceous borders for pollinators, and everything in between all the icing on the cake things like you know, your hedgehog holes, insect hotels, you know, log piles, and everything to go with that. So I mean, it's a it's a how to so it was written with Dorling Kindersley. And, yeah, I think it's, it's really nice to have that as a resource people that a lot of people that have bought it have said, I love the fact I can pick it up, read about ponds, put it down, go and build one. And that's it, you know. And in the back of the book, there's a whole list of every single tree ship, plant, Wildflower pond plant you would ever need for each individual situation. So whether you've got heavy clay soils, sandy soils, what plants are put in your pond, you're oxygenating plants, what herbaceous perennials you should use for attracting these, what larval food plants we should use for common bloomers. So it's got all of that in the back, which I often refer to myself as killing it with planting plants. I forget half of the time. So yeah, so why would you garden as a and it's available any any sort of reputable Bookstore, online and all the usual places? Yeah, hopefully it will help a lot of people

Steve Roe:

will stick a link to it in the show notes under the podcast. And if people want to follow you on social media, what are your handles? Yeah.

Joel Ashton:

So at butterfly underscore browses the butterfly brothers page, and also myself at underscore Joe last year. And obviously, the website is Hazelwood. landscapes.com, where we've got a whole host of case studies and all sorts of projects we do, but I do a lot on YouTube as well. So why would you garden with Joel Ashton, and again, that has got a lot of sort of how to videos, and little sort of short videos on how to track different species of wildlife, some of the projects we've done and everything in between. So hopefully, between Twitter, YouTube, Instagram can't keep up with all that. And hopefully, we should have some exciting news shortly about an online website, which will be available for anybody looking to buy any of the sort of garden wildlife garden associated products. So you know, ponds, liners, wildflowers, that sort of stuff as well. So stay tuned.

Steve Roe:

I've taken enough of your time this afternoon. So I'll let you get back down the meadow to the front of the barn. Thank you very much. So

Joel Ashton:

thank you very much pleasure.

Steve Roe:

And that's it for this week. Next time we're going international and meeting renowned bat scientist, Dr. Winifred Frick, who amongst other things, was the first person to discover a new ecological behaviour in bats in the desert. So join us in two weeks and in the meantime, hit that subscribe button so that the next episode download straight to your phone or tablet automatically