AFTER two full weeks of interviews, lobbying and conversations at COP26 in Glasgow I am grateful to be back reflecting on the progress made.

It was a mixed story-with some successes; but the overarching impression is that so much more needs to be done and at scale to avoid catastrophic changes.

Here in Hampshire many of you are rightly asking what action you can take now to help nature and reduce the risk of climate changes impacts. For me one of the best and most inspiring starting places in in our gardens. It is here, in our own small spaces that we can start the winter fight back against the impacts of a warming world.

Last week I was shocked to see the first snow drops, which should be out in early February trying to put in an appearance-and once again I found myself mowing a very soggy lawn that has persistently refused to stop growing. So what can we do?

The first action is all about when you buy and plant spring bulbs. Many garden centres started selling daffodils, crocuses and tulips back in September. I left mine until early October to plant, but by mid-November the very warm conditions in the soil meant they were already pushing through. This of course is bad news for the flowers (as frosts are sure to follow) and terrible for pollinating insects. To slow this process, firstly delay planting bulbs by at least a month. Instead of planting in October move to planting in mid or even late November. Try to time the planting ahead of forecast frosts. As frosts are generally arriving a whole month later than a few years ago, the dormancy period for bulbs is also reducing.

That of course doesn’t help bulbs that are already planted. The key is to do all you can to reduce soil temperature. Last winter I decided to cover one of the flower beds with Cotswold pebbles. Light coloured stones are good at repelling heat and cooling the surrounding air temperature. It was a bit of an experiment, but it worked. In the surrounding gardens the daffodils came out a full two weeks earlier than in our garden.

Others have added mini ponds into flower beds, which also appear to have a small cooling effect and there is also the option of covering the soil with a winter mulch of leaves, grass cuttings and even rotting autumn fruit. The combination, if it is a thin layer, helps to keep the soil temperature steady and slows the penetration of sunlight into the soil layers.

The second action is to provide constant food for small mammals such as hedgehogs and for bird species. In the case of hibernating mammals, unexpectedly warm conditions are causing them to wake in the middle of winter and find that their expected sources of food are not available. There is a real danger that species like hedgehogs won’t make it through the winter as they risk dying of starvation. This is fine so long as you don’t have local rats that steal the food! For the birds, the big struggle is early breeding. Many resident species are fooled into thinking spring has come early and as a result start breeding weeks or even months before they should. A frequently topped up food and water supply will help to ensure early fledged young birds are given a chance to survive.

And finally look out for plants that will flower in winter (such as certain ivy species), also mahonias, early crocuses, goat willow, hellebores, aconites and early flowering clematis. These will help bee species and other pollinating insects that wake from hibernation to have a valuable source of food and give them a chance of making it through the remainder of the winter.

As the climate changes we will have to become increasingly more creative and imaginative as we search for solutions to help give nature a chance and avoid the worst of the threats caused by milder winters.