This gallery contains 7 photos.
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.
I don’t know where the time goes and I cant believe that its 8 days since I wrote my Blog. In that time however I have managed to establish some sort of equilibrium and am much calmer.
Earlier in the week Jasper alerted me to a juvenile hedgehog eating its dinner in the night garden. It was clearly obvious that the hedgehog was not particularly big, so I asked hubby to bring me the scales from the kitchen.
I weighed “Cheeky Charlie” (named because he/she didn’t curl up for long) and found that the 375gms was not sufficient for him/her to survive winter hibernation. I understand that hedgehogs should be at least 500-600gms to survive over winter so I prepared the cat carrier, complete with towels, hot water bottle, newspaper, food and water for the hedgehog’s overnight stay with us, before taking him/her to the local Wildlife Hospital the next day.
The hospital welcomed the new addition and promised that we can have him/her back in the Spring.
The hospital will keep the juvenile hedgehogs, not ready for hibernation, in warm conditions so they don’t try to hibernate. This would probably kill them as they don’t have enough body fat to live on whilst their body slows down. Hopefully, after a Spring and Summer back in our garden Cheeky Charlie will be ready to hibernate this time next year.
In the meantime, soft as I am, I have built the hogs a shelter so they don’t have to eat their dinner in the rain……..
Am I daft?
Brrrrrr……we are still having some gorgeous sunny days but there is definitely a chill in the air which wasn’t obvious in September. A sure sign that we are in the midst of autumn with it’s misty mornings and dewy evenings leaving a damp film over the garden.
Since my last post, I been focussing on the hedgehogs. No surprise there, but now I am thinking about them approaching hibernation time and making sure that they have somewhere safe, dry and comfortable to curl up. Obviously most hedgehogs manage to find a nest; in Pampas grass, under sheds and often in compost heaps where the heat of the rotting process is a welcome extra but giving them shelter in addition is always a good idea as they can move between nests during the hibernation season.
I bought 2 ready-made hedgehog houses earlier in the year and they have been in-situ for a few months now but then I spotted instructions for making a hedgehog house online courtesy of St Tiggywinkles and I decided to have a go myself.
I also found some roofing felt in the garage so now the hedgehogs have waterproof roofs as well.
.These three houses already have new gardens to go to so I hope that some lucky hedgehog will find a comfy shelter to bed down in for the winter!
This is where I hid mine…..
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.
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.
I thought this was interesting………
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.
We also have plenty of fresh raspberries…
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.
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.
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.
It was only a few months ago that it looked like this……
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 🙂
Following the sightings of a number of different size adult hedgehogs over the last few weeks, the last two evenings have seen the appearance of a couple of baby hedgehogs, hoglets.
I think that they are two different hoglets; it’s difficult to tell but looking at the size of the feet, and shape of the nose, I believe they are two babies, not one. Based on their size, I also believe that they are 2016 babies, probably born in early May. They are too small to be 2015 babies as they wouldn’t have survived hibernation at this size. They need to be at least 450-500g when they hibernate and so I am pretty confident that they are this year’s model.
Let’s hope that mum has another litter soon so we have lots more hoglets running around the garden.
Now that my Hedgehog hotel is occupied, I can focus on making comfy homes for other wild creatures and encourage them into my garden.
It appears that I have already made great strides with allowing the weeds, like groundsel, to grow. Groundsel is a favourite of the Cinnabar moth larvae which turn into beautiful black and red adults. Although they are common and fly during the day, I haven’t seen one in my garden before but they are very welcome to bring their striking colours along to brighten up any dull patch.
One of my next projects is to create a “Toad Abode.” I have spent some time sawing the apple tree branches which hubby lopped off in early spring into small logs and collected some old brick pieces and large stones to make one of these frog and toad homes. Part of the feature is built below ground and part above. This gives them access to the cracks and crevices between the stones and logs and somewhere which is cool and damp in the summer and frost-free in the winter when they hibernate.
Of course when creating a wildlife garden you have to plan a complete ecosystem in your back garden. A food chain is necessary if the creatures are to survive. I was very pleased therefore that someone has very kindly donated a fabulous piece of tree trunk which is old and dry and is home to all sorts of insects already. These tiny creepy-crawlies will provide food for birds, hedgehogs, frogs and toads and so is a very welcome addition to my project.
Old wood stacked up in piles creates a very simple home for lots of insects, amphibians and hedgehogs. I didn’t have to pick up too many branches to saw up before I came across a host of snails. They looked quite pretty with their multi-coloured swirly shells.
I have lots more to do and I have booked a weeks holiday in July so I can crack on with it properly. Now I’ve started I want to get the basic structure in place so I can plant up and get it ready for next Spring.
If you have any good ideas for creating a wildlife garden or tips what not to do, please message me. I will be very grateful for any advice.
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.
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.
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.
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!
….and this time it is to my wildlife garden.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!