September is usually a month of bounty. Plants are bearing berries or seed, with some, such as ivy, producing a late batch of flowers for pollinators still on the wing. This year, after some extremely dry conditions in most parts of the country, berries may not be as abundant, so keep your fruiting plants well-watered with grey water, to help garden birds feed up ahead of autumn migration.


More wildlife gardening inspiration:

September wildlife inspiration


Ivy flowers

If you have ‘arboreal’ ivy in your garden it will be starting to flower now, providing masses of food for pollinating insects. Often you can hear ivy flowers before you see them, but if you approach it quietly you may spot queen wasps, hoverflies and other flies, along with the odd bumblebee and of course ivy bees, which look like they’re wearing striped pyjamas.


Japanese anemone

Japanese anemones come into their own in September, flowering in white and pink to add a burst of colour to gardens at the same time as a late source of food for pollinators. Deadhead spent blooms to keep flowers coming as far into autumn as possible, which will benefit both you and the insects.


Hawthorn berries

Hawthorn berries, known as haws, are loaded with antioxidants and vitamins, which studies have shown can help reduce the physical stresses of migration on migrating birds such as thrushes. I keep my young hawthorn well watered to help the berries to ripen nicely, but mature trees shouldn’t need additional watering. Then all you need to do is keep an eye out for robins, blackbirds and even migrant winter thrushes like redwings and fieldfares.

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Rowan berries

Rowan is another popular berry, with robins and blackbirds feasting on them as soon as they ripen – in my garden it’s the first berry to be eaten. Rowan is also one of the favourite berries of the waxwing, which – like the redwing and fieldfare – comes here from Russia and Scandinavia, typically when food is in short supply. Look out for this magnificent bird that looks like it’s wearing 1980s eye make-up. Numbers fluctuate year-on-year, could we have a waxwing winter this year?



Don’t forget the importance of seeds in your garden. While berries are more obvious to us, the seeds of trees such as alder and birch, along with perennials such as lavender, grasses, sunflowers and thistles, all provide a fantastic, protein-rich source of food for birds, from blue tits to goldfinches. Simply by leaving seedheads standing, you can provide a nutritious source of food for birds while adding interest to your garden.


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