LATE June and July is a lovely time in the hills.

The scarce wild orchids are in full flower (if the sheep haven’t nibbled them off), the equally rare skylarks are singing and hares are producing young (if their nests on the ground surface haven’t been trampled by dogs and horses), the butterflies are hatching (if their caterpillar plants haven’t been mown down) and all kinds of wild creatures are having babies and trying to keep them safe.

We take for granted that we can walk anywhere in the hills and see all these beauties, but as you may have heard, there is a major extinction going on, and it is all due to Man’s over-use of this fabulous countryside’s resources.

We had a wonderful talk from Dr Goronwy Wynne, renowned local botanist, in preparation for our Bioblitz on Halkyn Mountain at the end of June.

He highlighted how the underlying geology plays an important part in which wild plants grow on top.

In Flintshire and Denbighshire, we have a broad band of limestone, which makes alkaline soils and pools.

But, with decaying bracken and mosses in wet areas it can also produce acid soils.

So it’s not always obvious.

You can get soil-testing kits from your local garden centre to test your garden.

Gardens can be a fantastic nature reserve... especially if most of the neighbours are in on the project!

There has been quite a bit in the news about this lately.

Going a bit wilder in your garden doesn’t have to mean that everything has to be overgrown and weedy.

You can do as much or as little as pleases you and your family.

You don’t have to have nettles for butterflies – there are still plenty of nettles in the countryside, and there are only four species of butterfly whose caterpillars need them anyway.

But you could grow beautiful wildflowers like Birds foot Trefoil for the Common Blue butterfly (which is no longer common) and holly and ivy for the Holly Blue.

You can find out more about the particular plants for caterpillars on the internet or in books like mine.

Then there’s hedgehogs. Not using slug-pellets can really help them as they eat lots of your slugs.

And having a hole in the fence to help them wander across several gardens to hoover them up is great for them, too.

As for birds, well you can spend a fortune on all the sunflower seeds and peanuts for the feeders can’t you?

And then they can attract unwanted guests.

But it is cheaper and possible to grow a range of plants that provide seeds and berries for the birds in winter that they can eat right off the plants.

So, have a little think about what you could do in your garden to help the wildlife – if you want to do the Big Butterfly Count at the end of July / beginning of August, you can print off an ID chart and get lots of help on the website

Happy garden wilding!