Tag Archive | Butterflies

My wildlife garden 12 months on

Some of my more resilient readers will remember that this time last year I requisitioned the piece of ground that hubby used to grow vegetables on for my wildlife garden. Hubby didn’t have the time, and I am more interested in hedgehogs, birds and frogs than vegetables and so, over the next few months, a wildlife garden it became.

Only 12 months after my first efforts, I agreed to open my garden to the public on our village Open Garden Day. I was a bit worried that no one would be that interested and wasn’t expecting many visitors. Hah! how wrong can a person be? In this case I was hopelessly wrong and desperately ill-prepared for the masses that descended on my small garden.

Between 11.00am and 5.30pm we had a constant stream of visitors that were interested in how to attract wildlife into their gardens. For these enthusiasts, my garden is perfect. I was in the lucky position of being able to develop a garden from scratch purely with wildlife in mind, and although I didn’t plan it formally, the garden which evolved organically is beautiful and what’s more important, definitely attracts the wildlife. I am very proud of my efforts but am even more in awe of the plants that have established themselves so comfortably in the last year and presented a garden to be complimented last weekend.

More details of how I achieved the end (but ever evolving) result in later posts but here a just a few photographs of the finished product as at 11 June 2017.

Patience rewarded

I love butterflies. Delicate and colourful they flit around the garden, swooping between the trees, dipping and rising as their light bodies are caught on the breeze. They often settle on our red-brick wall, enjoying the warm sunshine as they open and close their wings.

This year I wanted to grow lots of butterfly friendly plants and flowers and, having created a butterfly garden with a variety of dwarf and standard buddleias, ice-plants, hebes and echinaceas I had to be patient and wait for the butterflies to appear.

It took a while but my patience was rewarded with the arrival of a few different varieties in the end.

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Wildlife garden-autumn update

It was lovely to have some warm, dry days in July and August. We managed a trip to the seaside and I enjoy sitting outside late at night  on balmy evenings hedgehog-watching.

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Old Hunstanton beach

High summer in the garden is very different to the lovely, fresh Spring we had when everything was green and lush; juvenile fledglings arrived to munch on the mealworms, frogs appeared in the ponds and hedgehogs came in their droves to feast in their café.

During the hot and dry few days, the fledglings flew the nest and found their own food-sources, the frogs remained in the ponds but were sheltering from the bright sunshine under the pondweed, and the hedgehogs spent as much time drinking as eating.

Now that we are in early autumn, the teasles have gone over with curling brown leaves, and the teasle heads are no longer an attraction for the bees and butterflies. I will have to wait patiently for the finches to arrive and enjoy the seeds.

The bushy and colourful nasturtiums have been eaten in their entirety by cabbage white butterfly caterpillars so that only stalks are left.

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Cabbage White caterpillars

I thought this was interesting………

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End of the road?

 

I’m not sure what happened next but I wish that I’d stayed to watch!

Our apple tree is laden with fruit and I am surprised that some of the branches haven’t broken under the weight.

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Apples galore!

We also have plenty of fresh raspberries…

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Now that most of the bee-friendly perennials are in place I thought it was time for something different. I haven’t tried gardening with succulents before and on researching them I was amazed to find how many colours, shapes and varieties there are. My options are limitless but starting small I went ahead with a selection from the local garden centre.

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Bird-bath with a leak-now a planter

No garden of mine is complete without a girlie-man cave and so to rival hubby’s double garage space, I went to town on my new little greenhouse. It cost me less than £20 and was easy to assemble. It has plenty of room for my stuff, and a chair where I can sit and drink my tea in peace. Naturally it had to be decorated, and so I made a long trail of bunting to hang up.

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My girlie-garden grotto

One of my favourite areas of the new garden is the pond and bog garden. I am blown away with how well it has grown and settled down.

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A perfect frog pad

It was only a few months ago that it looked like this……

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This was hard work! But worth it.

It will be interesting to see what autumn brings. Our last pictures of the hedgehogs before they go to sleep for the winter; chaffinches on the teasles and lots and lots of apples to pick and freeze.

It’s our village scarecrow festival at the weekend which is always a great event as long as the weather is kind to us.

Keep your fingers crossed for fine weather 🙂

Butterflies flutterby

At last. Just as I was beginning to despair of ever having a butterfly in my butterfly garden, along comes a red admiral. What a beauty especially when set against the bright yellow flowers that were clearly supplying a good breakfast of nectar.

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Red Admiral

 

I hope that this is the first of many. Either that or I just go out at the wrong time!

The hedgehogs keep coming and this week we’ve had a little darling whose face is covered in ticks poor thing. Most of the hedgehogs have ticks on the body, but this is the first one I’ve seen with so many close to his eyes and mouth. A quick call to the local wildlife hospital this morning and I can take him/her in (if I can catch it!) to be de-ticked. I could be on late hedgehog watch tonight.

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Ticky-Hog

 

Last week I was off work and managed to catch up with some of my other projects whilst the wildlife garden takes hold. Luckily we have had some very warm weather and along with plenty of rain and watering, the plants are really growing fast and filling the gaps.

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Sink Pond in Butterfly Glade

 

I should have some nicotiana flowering in the next few weeks. Apparently moths like the evening scent and once they are in bloom, I will put a night light amongst the flowers and watch for the different moths that visit. That’s the theory anyway.

In the warm weather, the teasles are starting to flower. The bees love these and I can normally get some good close up pictures. This year however, the teasles are taller than usual so I have to stand on a chair. I haven’t managed a great shot yet but there’s still plenty of time.

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Hungry Bee

 

I picked up some great logs last weekend. I cant believe that I get so excited about a few logs but these are well weathered and quite light as they’ve been in a garden for about 5 years and dried out. They are great shapes as well so some of them I will use as features amongst the plants; they will make good seats or bird resting areas.  I’m trying to get hold of a birch tree log to hang as I understand these will attract woodpeckers. I can hear the tap-tap-tap in the morning and it would be lovely to tempt one in.

The sink-pond has got a new resident! At first glance I thought that the frog which had moved into big-pond had swapped allegiance and transferred to sink-pond but no,there is one in each. It’s very satisfying to know that I have provided shelter for a little creature and he looks very comfortable in his new home.

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Sink-Pond frog

 

Altogether I have done the main wildlife landscaping and it is now more a case of letting things grow. I still have plenty to do but they are much smaller projects and features. Like new seats!

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New seat made from railway sleeper and thermo-bricks

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Big-Pond & Bog Garden taking off

Back to my roots ……

….and this time it is to my wildlife garden.

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I have so many ideas that I hardly know where to start so I am still collecting my materials and features  while I keep planning where best to site them.

I know for instance that I want a rockery around my new pond. Not only will this be the home for creeping plants but frogs and toads can crawl between the stones and shelter in the crevices. Today I replied to an offer of “100 rockery stones” on Freecycle and secured them all to be collected at my convenience. This is amazing as it should enable me to build a lovely rockery around the pond with plenty of stones to play with. And all FREE!

Hubby fetched me 6 used tyres on Friday which I will use as planters. I will be taking delivery of more tyres in due course and use them for raised beds to plant butterfly and bee-loving plants which will also give the garden some height in places.

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I have already planted up 3 tyres with nasturtiums on the lower deck, and Echinachea plants, which both bees and butterflies love, on the top deck. I have put the tyres next to the yellow iris “pond” which I know houses lots of frogs. The nasturtiums should grow into thick, creeping bushes with lovely red and yellow flowers providing plenty of damp and shady conditions for the frogs to enjoy. Cabbage White butterflies lay their eggs on nasturtium plants, on the underside of the leaves, and a little later these turn into caterpillar food for the frogs, toads and hedgehogs. Next to the pond, and at ground level, they should be easy meat for my garden inhabitants.

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My latest project is the Welly Wall. I will be collecting funky children’s wellies to grow herbs in and hanging them on the wall. This makes a useful and colourful display and shows how any container can be recycled and used as a planter. I think it will appeal particularly to children who will like the colour and imaginative use of their old wellies.

Next project; A frog and toad abode made from logs and stones.

Blue-Butterfly Day

 

  Blue-Butterfly Day-Robert frost

It is blue-butterfly day here in Spring
and with these sky-flakes down in flurry on flurry
there is more unmixed colour on the wing
Than flowers will show for days unless they hurry

But these are flowers that fly and all but sing
And now from having ridden out desire
They lie closed over in the wind and cling
Where wheels have freshly sliced the April mire

 



How to attract wildlife to your garden

Just this week, survey results revealed that man-made wild-life homes don’t work and can be a waste of money. So, if you have found this is the case in your garden, what can you do to make your garden more wild-life friendly? The following information and photos show you what I have done to successfully attract animals, birds and insects into my garden which makes it not just visually pleasing, but highly functional and a haven for a variety of species.

Hedgehogs

Meet Henderson our hedgehog. He has clearly shunned all man-made shelters in favour of the luxury pad he has found in the corner of my vegetable patch. And why wouldn’t he? This woodpile, created out of tree branches blown down in a gale, is enhanced by dry grape-vine leaves every year (and also some still-fermenting grapes which might explain his tottery progress round the garden occasionally) and this year, two old and woody discarded lavender plants. I challenge any hedgehog to find a warmer, more secure and fragrant nest this winter. All this comes with food on tap; frogs, slugs and plenty of woodlice to my knowledge. Perfect.

   

Butterflies & Bees      

     

Apart from the usual apple blossom, sedum, and buddleia’s which are particularly attractive to butterflies I also leave the nettle patch to thrive near the aforementioned woodpile as this encourages many species of butterflies. Bees arrive in droves, attracted by the lavender hedge, honeysuckle, cornflowers and teasles.  

Squirrels

Not everyone likes squirrels and wants to attract them to their garden. I personally find them fascinating to watch and currently have two regular visitors who thieve the bird’s peanuts from the various feeders spread around the garden. These are incredibly intelligent, determined and agile animals and however difficult I try and make it for them, they always get their nut rewards in the end. It is also funny to watch them dig small holes in the lawn and flower pots to bury their treasure and I quite often find monkey nuts and peanuts the next spring when I dig over the borders and replace compost in the pots. I do have squirrel-proof feeders as well which protect sufficient food to keep the birds happy.

Birds

Feeding birds during the winter months clearly attracts them to your garden and I supplement fat balls, peanuts and nyger seed by growing sunflowers and teasles which provide birds with fresh seeds in abundance. Plants and shrubs which produce juicy berries in the autumn not only add colour to your garden after the main flowering season is over but also provide a feast for the birds. Good choices are cotoneaster, berberis and holly. One word of advice in the autumn. Try not to park your car under trees, eaves or wires where birds gather. You are likely to come back to a car splattered with the rainbow-remains of these berries which can be hard to remove!

Not so obvious is the growing of pampass grass. Last spring I watched a family of sparrows strip four spears of pampas to feather their nest. It must have been like a down-quilt to them and their offspring and I hope they will be back next spring for more bedding. 

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Frogs & Pondlife     

I have a relatively small garden and therefore a huge pond was not an option. However, you don’t need a large pond to encourage frogs. My pond which is approximately 3 feet round, is full of frogs, with the surrounding marginal plants and lush foliage providing the shelter and damp conditions which slugs just love. Froggy-food by the ton!

  

The best thing about all this? Very little effort and expense for great rewards. Let’s hope it continues