The darker side of autumn
Finding the beauty in decay
It might go against the instinct of most gardeners but by encouraging rot and decay in your patch you'll receive plenty of unusual wildlife guests this autumn.
So far it has been a good year for fruit, with blackberries, apples and sloes aplenty. Fallen rotten fruit will attract mini beasts so don't clear it up. Millipedes, collembola, fruit flies and grubs are all food for ladybirds and hoverflies as well as dunnocks and wrens. If you are lucky, the sweet smelling oozing fruit may attract late butterflies, such the small tortoiseshell and peacock.
The mini beast feast will also attract larger wildlife such as badgers, foxes, voles and hedgehogs. Many of this year's youngsters will still be learning essential survival skills from their parents, so keep your eyes peeled for juvenile apprentices.
Specially built compost heap
A composting haven
A compost heap will attract a whole range of insects and can be a warm winter home to slow worms, grass snakes and frogs. A specially designed compost bin or just a cordoned off corner of your garden will do just fine.
As well as general garden waste you can also add vegetable waste from your kitchen. Give it a turn over occasionally to allow oxygen to penetrate the stack but remember to be careful of its wintering residents. Turning will also expose juicy earthworms for hungry wintering birds.
If you add lawn/meadow cuttings allow at least 24 hours before raking the cuttings to allow beetles to return to ground. Alternatively use them as mulch around your plants.
Stacks of rot
Minibeast log pile retreat
The nooks and crannies of a log pile are the perfect residencies for insects, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. The flaking bark offers damp and dry sections perfectly suited for spiders and ladybirds respectively. Minimise disturbance to the stack and you might attract rare visitors like the elusive stag beetle who loves to bury its eggs under rotting logs.
Pond dwellers such as toads and frogs tend to find somewhere warmer to sit out the winter and a log pile habitat is the perfect winter retreat.
Hard woods from deciduous trees such as oak, beech or ash work best as log piles. A selection of logs from different species will encourage different types of mosses, lichen and fungi to grow. But please don't go removing any felled wood from other people's land without permission. Explore the intricacies of log pile stacking with the Wildlife Trusts' guide to log piles.
Living leaf litter
Detrivores work together by processing the leaf litter and recycling essential minerals and nutrients back into the soil. Your friendly garden decomposers include fungi, millipedes, wood crickets, collembola, woodlice, dung flies, slugs and earthworms.
But it isn't all death and decay this autumn, take a few moments to explore the beauty in all things autumnal with our top 20 autumn activities.
Take part in a wildlife survey.
Explore the history of our nature folklore.
Take a walk on the waterside.
Explore the underwater landscape.
Meet the shifty characters lurking at the seaside.
Take a wildlife walk in your town.