Tag Archive | frogs

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.

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

Something of the marvelous

There is something of the marvelous in all things of nature-Aristotle

Apparently, having water in my garden is the best way to encourage and entice a host of different creatures to visit us. Insects, frogs, toads and newts, birds, and small mammals are all dependant on water to survive, just as we are. It was a good day therefore when my pond plants arrived from lincolnshire-pondplants in the post, safe and sound and ready to pot up. I hope that the two new ponds bring more dragonflies and damselflies as I love their bright fluorescent colours and patterned wings.

The delivery also included some aquatic baskets and compost, so all I needed to add were some pebbles on the surface to prevent the soil from leaking into the water too much. I managed this with the larger pond which is very clear this evening, but the small pond made in the Belfast sink is still cloudy. I hope that it clears tomorrow when it settles down.

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I wasn’t sure what plants to order, so I went online and did some research. It still seemed a bit overwhelming and so I took the plunge and ordered 2 plant packs; one for a very small pond (sink) and one for a medium pond. I was really pleased with the selection I was sent and the condition they arrived in and tonight all are planted up and in situ.

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My newly-resident frog is still sitting on the yellow irises, looking comfortable in his new home. I hope we get some frogspawn next year as I have lots of frogs in my old pond but have never had any spawn. It would be nice to have some tadpoles!

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The plants I was sent include;

A purple Iris, yellow iris, bulrush, Juncus grass, water mint, forget-me-not, oxygenators and some plants with long latin names.

I’m looking forward to next year when they have settled and grown into their surroundings.

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In the meantime I have a herb garden to finish, a vertical planter to plant up, some shrubs to pick up on Sunday and more rockery stones to collect.

Good job I’m on holiday next week!

Nature

Toad of Toad Hall

I have found a really useful project run by the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) called imaginatively, and appropriately, “Wildlife Garden.”

Many wildlife species native to the UK have declined in numbers over the past few decades, and there is a big focus on encouraging everyone to do something to help stop the decline and get children interested in nature. The RSPB has set up a programme where you choose activities to complete which form your “Personal Plan” and when completed, you confirm it online. Full instructions and the estimated time involved are given for each activity and you can pick and choose what to do.

After completing the hedgehog house and café and the bird feeding station, and with the bug hotel and pond under construction, my project for a rainy Saturday was to build the frog/toad abode. There are several models which you can buy ready made but I wanted to make one more akin to their natural environment and provide a damp, safe home for them to keep cool in the summer, and frost-free for successful winter hibernation.

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A ready-made toad abode

 

First job was to dig a hole about 30cm deep. I found a spot near the new pond and sheltered by the garden wall and the thick growth of ivy. I then layered some pieces of brick, which I had dug up when constructing the pond, with the logs I cut up yesterday. The idea being to create lots of nooks and crannies for the frogs and toads to crawl down. I kept adding logs and bricks above ground to make a mound. I even found a piece of brick shaped like a doorway to make an entrance.

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A mound of logs and bricks above and below ground

This completed the basic structure which was now ready to be covered in lots of twigs to make it look more natural.

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A good helping of twigs

 

 

I could have left it like that but my wildlife garden is going to be 5* so while I sat drinking a well deserved cup of coffee I thought of how I could make it more waterproof, comfortable and attractive to frogs and toads.

I happened to have an old hanging basket liner which was surplus to requirements so filled in some of the gaps in the twigs with coir, providing a good layer of insulation.

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Next, I found some old wooden lawn edging, again surplus to requirements, which made a very stylish pantile roof!

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It still looked a bit untidy for a discerning amphibian expecting 5* accommodation so I covered the roof in soil and a piece of turf to make a more natural mound.

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A few plants which I have been growing behind the scenes help to soften the landscape and hopefully, when I have finished the adjoining pond, bog garden and rockery, it won’t be long before the first residents move in.

If I was a frog, I wouldn’t hesitate.

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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.

Every frog has its own pond….

which is, I understand, a Bulgarian proverb.

Not so in my garden as I have an army of frogs in my one and only tiny pond. Time I think to create another in my embryonic wildlife garden so they can spread out and enjoy a new habitat should they wish. As well as encouraging hedgehogs, I like frogs in the garden as they too eat slugs and snails which wreak havoc with the Hostas.

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One of the pond residents

 

Nothing too big, but a little larger than the one I dug 10 years ago perhaps. It boils down to the size of the pond liner which a lady has very kindly donated to my cause. Luckily, when I collected it from her allotment yesterday, I was pleased to see that it is neither too big nor too small. It’s just right.

So, on with the digging.

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Hard core digging

This is the tricky part. It’s all very well to have wonderful ideas until you have to put the hard graft in to make the dreams reality. All was going well for 12″ until I hit the hardcore. I understand that our house in the corner of the close was not only the site office (hence we have a telephone line running into our garage) but also a place where the rubble and rubbish was tipped before it was then covered over with top soil to make a garden. I have no problem with that, until I start digging. It’s hard work and in the muggy heat of the afternoon I am soon sweating so much I can’t see out of my glasses.

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Lazin’ on a sunny afternoon

 

I managed to dig a decent sized hole and remove some stones before I am forced to give in for the day. I think I need a pick-axe to do this efficiently but whether I can find one is another matter. That’s for another day! In the meantime I have plenty of things I can do until this weather breaks and I can continue when its a bit cooler.

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Donated pond liner

I have in mind a tyre herb garden, tin-can wall planting and a vertical pallet planter for starters

This wildlife gardening is not only a great idea, it’s also fun!