Expert help for the birds & beasts this Spring

Tuesday 2 April 2019

With Spring in the air, longer days and sunshine drawing us back outdoors, it’s the perfect time for a Spring spruce up in the garden.

Four garden experts from this year’s RHS Chatsworth Flower Show (June 5-9) have come up with their top tips to get gardens looking their best while making sure wildlife is well looked after too. Visitors to RHS Chatsworth Flower Show will be able to pick up plenty of advice on making gardens wildlife friendly at the RHS Wildlife Garden, with more details to be revealed soon.

BBC Gardeners’ World presenter Adam Frost, who will open the show, recommends:

1. Make sure bird baths are clean and topped up with water for birds to drink and bathe in. If you have a pond or deeper water feature, make sure there’s a shallow area to make it easier for frogs and other wildlife to get in and out of.

2. Garden pests, like slugs and snails, will start appearing as the weather warms up. To encourage predators like hedgehogs and frogs into the garden, leave a more natural area in a quiet corner for shelter – incorporating a small pile of logs is a great place to hide food for any visitors too.

3. Hedges are really important habitats for birds and many will already be building nests. Resist cutting hedges until after nesting season to encourage more birds into your garden. It is offence to cut hedges between the start of March and end of July because of the risk to birds’ nests.

Gardening expert Martin Fish will be hosting theatre talks at RHS Chatsworth. His wildlife-friendly Spring gardening tips include:

1. If raking your lawn to remove a build-up of moss, leave some of the dry moss in an area of the garden so that birds can collect it for nest building.

2. When having a final prune and tidy through borders bundle some of the branches and hollow stems together and lay them under a shrub to create a mini-bug hotel – little beasties and bugs will love it.

3. Spring is any ideal time to fill gaps with new plants, so consider planting a selection of nectar rich plants such as penstemon or foxgloves, to encourage bees, butterflies and pollinating insects.

First-time designer and RHS Ambassador Jamie Butterworth is creating the Wedgwood Show Garden. His tips included carefully planned out planting.

1. Installing a bird bath, or similar in the garden, encourages this natural form of pest control as birds will eat caterpillars and aphids removing the need for harmful chemicals.

2. When planning a new garden perennials take time to knit together so set aside about 10% of your plant list for wildlife friendly annuals to fill the bare patches with beautiful blooms and a banquet for wildlife.

3. Wildlife friendly planting can be anywhere, on a balcony, window sill or in pots. Containers lend themselves just as well to pollinator-friendly plants such as Centaurea cyanus ‘Black Boy', Daucus carota and Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens' and they’ll look spectacular too.

Garden designer Paul Hervey-Brookes is creating a feature garden, The Brewin Dolphin Artists’ Garden, at RHS Chatsworth. He said:

1. Pot on and feed containerised Hostas and Agapanthus for better foliage and flowers. Bees and insects will love them.

2. Take soft tip cuttings of Dahlia tubers, Aster and other suitable herbaceous perennials to bulk up the garden for free. Why not use the savings to buy a bird box or feeder to encourage more feathered friends into the garden?

3. Weed the majority of baby weed seedlings out now and reap the benefits of a summer free of weeding. But be sure to leave a few to go wild in an area where they’ll bother you least. Butterflies, bees and birds will thank you for it!

The RHS Chatsworth Flower Show will run from June 5 – 9.

Tickets to RHS Chatsworth Flower Show can be bought at


Notes to editors

Images of the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show are available to download. Please email the RHS Press Office at for instructions on how to access these.

RHS Chatsworth Flower Show (5-9 June 2019)

5 June: RHS members only

6 – 9 June: RHS members and non-members

5 – 8 June: 10am - 6.30pm

9 June: 10am – 5pm

Venue: Chatsworth, Bakewell, Derbyshire, DE45 1PP

To book tickets 0844 995 9664* or *Calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge. Ticket prices range from £27.50 to £36.50. Tickets are on sale now.

About the RHS

The Royal Horticultural Society, the world’s leading gardening charity, was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood. Our vision is to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place. This aspiration underpins all that we do, from inspirational gardens and shows, through our scientific research, to our education and community programmes such as Campaign for School Gardening and Britain in Bloom. We produce key publications, hold a world-class collection of horticultural books and botanical art, and sell the very best plants and gardening gifts.  

The RHS is fundraising £40m to transform our gardens, outreach and education facilities, which includes redeveloping our flagship RHS Garden Wisley and opening a new garden, RHS Garden Bridgewater, in 2020. We are solely funded by our members, visitors and supporters. For more information visit  

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262

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About the RHS

The RHS believes that gardening improves the quality of life and that everyone should have access to great garden experiences. As a charity we help to bring gardening into people's lives and support gardeners of all levels and abilities; whether they are expert horticulturists or children who are planting seeds for the very first time.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262