December is one of the quietest months for flowers and insects. However, this would be a good time to plant out one of the earliest nectar providers, the Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger), whose white flowers appear in late autumn or spring. The Christmas Rose could be underplanted with another nectar provider, Anemone blanda, which will eventually spread to create a carpet covering any bare soil under the hellebores.
Visit Beale in the spring and you will see several different varieties of hellebore in the Jubilee Gardens.
Beale is heavily involved in local bird conservation and many birds are ringed each year with records being sent to the British Trust for Ornithology.
This photo shows a baby Blue Tit being ringed.
We have several bird feeders in the conservation areas of the Park. On Christmas Day you could add to the usual peanuts and seeds that you might have in feeders in your garden, and share a few of your leftovers with the birds. The following can be added to the bird table until darkness falls: pieces of fat from cooked, unsalted meat; cold, halved roast potatoes; hard bits of cheese (not blue or very strong); stale cake and biscuit pieces. If you get starlings they will eat cold sprouts, carrots and parsnips.
There is a lot of water at Beale. You could try recreating a little part at home by making your own wildlife pond. A pond dug in late winter will establish more quickly than at any other time of year. Creating a pond is the most effective thing you can do to increase the biodiversity in your garden, and it’s fascinating to watch the creatures that use it, such as the frogs that hide under the bog- loving plants at the water’s edge, and birds drinking and bathing.
Here at Beale we get rather large birds in the ponds, such as these Greylag Geese.
If you have young children you can make a pond in a pot and wildlife will still find it. The RSPB has instructions on how to create a pond out of a large container. Please click on the following link for more information.