Tag Archive | Garden

30 Days Wild-Day 3

Hurrah! I never thought I would cheer when it rains but I did today. I love the warm sunshine and being able to sit outside in the wildlife garden and just chill out to the sound of birdsong, scuffling of hedgehogs and the gentle “plop” of the frogs jumping back into the pond but my garden needs water! It started off as a light drizzle this morning but has gradually increased to a steady rain this afternoon. I just hope it doesn’t last long!

At first I was able to sit under my apple tree as now it is in full leaf I am sheltered from most of the wet stuff but I soon found that my glasses were steaming up and splattered with rain so I put Plan B into action.

I have many and varied bird feeding stations in the garden. Different feeders, at different heights and filled with a variety of food. I soon realised that I would be spending most of my day indoors, so I thought I’d shake it up a bit.

I filled a teapot with a pre-prepared mix of “songbird” food but with extra black sunflower seeds and mealworms (dried). I then moved it from its normal position in the open garden, to well inside the canopy of the apple tree. This is very near to my Girl Cave and where I usually sit to watch and learn. Whoever finds it will either be lucky or pretty astute and brave. I then set my trail camera up to watch whilst I was happy and warm indoors….

So look who got there first? No surprise it was a flock of starlings both adults and their young queueing up to take their turn and dip their head into the teapot.

Its easy to dislike these birds. They are noisy (gobby), demanding, hang around in gangs and are happy to chase off other birds if they want to eat. But they are also clever and if you look close, their feathers are almost luminescent in shades of blue and green. I can’t say that they are my favourites; they are too skwarky and opinionated for me but I do respect their intelligence and ability to feed their many juveniles.

 

 

 

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 🙂

Feed the birds

My birds have gone to bed for the night, but in the morning they are in for a treat. I have made some peanut butter cones and hung them on the fig tree, ready for breakfast.

Very simple to make and apparently birds love them.

All you need;

Fir cones, Peanut Butter, bird seed and string to hang them up.

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Method:

Smother pine cones in peanut butter and roll in the bird seed.

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Hang on trees and wait for the feasting to begin.

maggie-jones-quote-some-people-are-mistaken-they-think-birds-need

 

 

 

Relaxing Sunday breakfast

After hauling rockery stones into and out of my car boot yesterday (2 loads) as well as a ton of bricks (1 large load) and collecting a large bird feeding station I’m having a lazy day today. That doesn’t mean inactive, just less physical than the last few days.

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Rocks for my rockery!

 

There doesn’t look to be many rocks there but my goodness they were heavy and awkward to pick up. I’m not complaining as they were donated to my wildlife garden cause as were the bricks so a little effort on my part is not a chore.

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A few of the bricks collected

This morning I took my cup of tea into the wildlife patch and sat watching the birds have their breakfast of dried mealworms, sunflower hearts and fat balls. In the 30 minutes or so I was there a variety of birds arrived; Starlings, sparrows, a juvenile blue-tit, a juvenile blackbird and a pigeon. The baby blackbird looks a little like a thrush with speckled feathers but with mum and dad close by and not a thrush in sight I am confident that my choice is correct.

I love the juveniles who have just fledged. They are mostly bigger than their parents due to their fluffy feathers which they puff up. It looks funny seeing the family together perched on the wall or fence but it wont be long before they lose that cuteness and look more like the adults.

I finished my cup of tea in the sunshine, and went to plant some seeds for next year’s plants. I am focussing on cottage garden varieties such as lupins, sweetpeas, Echinacea and hollyhocks. All loved by the birds, bees and butterflies. I cant wait until this time next year when I hope to be doing more sitting than digging!

Sundays are meant to be lazy anyway I keep telling myself.

I’m not going to argue with that!

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In the night garden

After the excitement of finding my first hedgehog resident I was happy to go to bed satisfied that my wildlife garden plans are coming to fruition. There is nothing like success to spur you on to greater things and I couldn’t sleep straight away as more ideas were swirling round my head.

I finally dropped off only to be woken up at 2am from a deep sleep by Jasper barking incessantly.  I knew that it wasn’t his “I need a wee” bark, and it didn’t sound like his “I can’t reach my toys” bark either but he went on and on until I staggered out of bed and went downstairs to investigate.

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Jasper checking out the strange spikey thing in his garden

 

Jasper was standing at the window looking out onto the back garden and when I managed to prise my eyes open wide enough to focus I saw a hedgehog on the lawn. Even Jasper is becoming obsessed and I’m not sure how he knew it was there unless it was making a hedgehog-noise but there it was. I let Jasper out and he ran straight towards the hedgehog. he doesn’t attack them or hurt them in any way but he is very curious.

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All curled up waiting for the annoying dog to go away

 

I managed to hold him back for a while until the hedgehog realised that there was no threat, uncurled and tottered off into the bushes.

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Off into the bushes

 

As you know I love having hedgehogs in the garden but if it means having to get up in the middle of the night to satisfy Jasper’s curiosity, I may have to rethink!

keep calm

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!

Batten down the hatches….

here comes Jude.

The weather forecasters have been warning us all week that a storm is heading our way and should reach the UK (exact destination unknown) late tonight/early Monday morning bringing with it hurricane force gales and rain. I remember the great storm of 1987 very well and had a terrible time trying to get home from Cardiff across the country from West to East back home to Kent due to the travel chaos that it caused.

So when someone tells me that a storm likened to the 1987 is going to hit, I take it seriously and when I got up this morning and spotted the clear blue sky and gorgeous late-autumn sunshine, I thought there is no better time to tidy up the garden and batten down the hatches ready for the onslaught.

Holly tree

Holly tree

Figs

Figs

Blue skies

Blue skies

Firstly however, I wanted to pick as many apples off my tree as possible so that they won’t go to waste when they are blown down. Once bruised, you cannot keep them over winter, and they have to be processed quickly. Whilst I am quite happy to do this, the more I can preserve without cooking and freezing just yet, the longer my apple stock will last.

In the increasingly strong breeze, I managed to pick another two large bags of fruit before running out of ladder, leaving some lovely plump apples frustratingly just out of reach.

Apples...more apples

Apples…more apples

Grrr...out of reach

Grrr…out of reach

I even found some late raspberries hiding under the canes; Only a handful but a real treat in late October!

Autumn raspberries-it's almost November!

Autumn raspberries-it’s almost November!

Some people I know hate leaf-raking in the autumn, a hateful job that never ends but I find it very therapeutic and, as I put the leaves in the compost to make worm-friendly leaf-mould over the winter months, I always feel it is a job worth doing. It’s quite sad that another summer is over, but whilst raking the dead vine leaves into piles I remember the lovely summer we have just had; the flowers, the grapes, berries, barbecues, picnics and hot summer days on holiday and look forward to next year when the bulbs I have just planted will show me that winter is over and spring is on its way.

It also reminds me that just a few weeks ago I wouldn’t have had the energy to rake leaves, pull up faded summer bedding and fill the compost and rubbish bins. My efforts at pacing myself at work and at home appear to be working and I feel much calmer and healthier for it. So I don’t get as much done as I would like but it’s a compromise worth the effort and there’s no better feeling than feeling better.

Leaf raking

Leaf raking