WITH the clocks set to go back this month, teams at National Trust properties across Herefordshire are preparing the grounds in their care for winter – and they're encouraging locals to do the same in their own gardens.

The conservation charity looks after nature throughout the year but as the nights start to draw in vital work gets underway to help protect wildlife in Herefordshire.

At Croft Castle, near Leominster, the team is helping to protect wildlife in a range of ways, from leaving windfall fruit for birds and butterflies, to building a log pile in the garden to create a safe space for hedgehogs. The borders in the garden are also left intact to offer refuge for insects throughout autumn and into the winter months.

Jonathan Kellett, senior gardener at Croft Castle, has also revealed his top five tips to help locals in Herefordshire care for the wildlife in their gardens too:

1. Leave out food for hedgehogs - they love meaty cat food and hedgehog biscuits

2. As the nights get colder, birds that visit your garden will need extra nourishment to keep them warm. Fat balls are a great source of energy and easy to make – all you need is suet or lard and bird seed mix

3. Let your garden go wild. Undisturbed wild areas in your garden make the perfect spots for wildlife to live, rest and keep dry in, as the weather starts to change. This could be a hedgehog house full of leaves, a bug hotel, or even a compost heap for toads

4. Look after your nest boxes. Birds don't hibernate and they use a lot of energy to keep themselves warm at night. Clear out any nest boxes now so that birds can take shelter in them as the nights start to get cooler

5. If in doubt, speak to a professional. If you spot anything unusual and you're not sure what to do, your local rescue centre or National Trust ranger will be able to offer support.

Jason Wood, ranger at Croft Castle, added: "The places in our care are full of life, from the rich variety of land to the diverse and species of wildlife within them. We work hard throughout the year, in all weathers, to protect the countryside, ensuring that all nature and wildlife have safe and healthy places to thrive whilst looking after these areas for future generations."

The National Trust is an independent conservation charity, funded through memberships, donations, legacies and commercial operations.

To find out more information about National Trust's conservation work, please visit nationaltrust.org.uk/midlands-nature-tips