Winter so far has been quite mild. Unlike last year, the Bramblings have not showed up yet. The Greenfinches are all the more accompanied by their cousins the chaffinches. The bird feeders are full and attracts lots of songbirds. Dunnocks prefer the protection of the shrubbery and so do the robins and wrens. To attract birds, there is an abundance of vegetation, predominantly native trees and shrubs as they tend to attrackt more wildlife. Dunnocks and Wrens love dense vegetation and gather their food also in the leaf litter. Leaf litter is often considered a nuisance and many people try to get rid of the autumn leaves. In my garden, i do not dispose of the leaves but i keep them in the garden so that all the organisms can feed on them. It is one of nature’s best examples of pure recycling: in a short period of time, the leaves are consumed by all kinds of soil organisms and among them are the earthworms, which play an important role in soil ecology. The quality of the soil in woodlands is not only determined by the kind of soil one has (loamy, clay, sandy) but also by the kind of trees or shrubs. Studies revealed that of all the trees the one that is able to restore an acidic soil best is the small-leaved lime, a tree which was once abundant in our forests during the Atlantic. It goes without saying that to improve the soil we must make sure that we create the conditions for the lime tree to thrive. Its dead leaves are a pure delicacy for earthworms and other organisms and contain lots of nutrients and so improve the soil. Hazel, ash, elm, alder and to a lesser extent hornbeam are also able to improve the soil. In due course, mull is formed, the kind of humus related to biologically active soils. All of the trees mentioned above can be coppiced which makes them also suitable for average gardens. Here you see an example of coppiced limes. Some prefer to cut them down near ground level and others do this at knee height Coppiced woodland is very rich in biodiversity; there is lots of vegetation and enough light to reach the woodland floor. The coppiced trees attract numerous insects which in their turn are a magnet for birds. The caterpillars of many moth species can be found on alder, willow, and to a lesser extend on lime, hornbeam and elm. If you don’t have room for a tree, you could consider hawthorns. Hawthorns are great trees for wildlife. The foliage is very popular with numerous moth caterpillars and its dense structure makes it a good shelter for birds and small mammals. Its flowers are attractive to insects such as bees which pollinate the flowers. After pollination, berries are formed which are an important food for birds in winter. All in all, a tree i could recommend.