Tag Archive | nature

Hoglets

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.

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How cute is this?

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.

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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

Butterflies and bees

I had a change of direction today. I moved from building homes for frogs and toads, insects and hedgehogs to focus on butterflies and bees.

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First of all though I went to collect two bags of these gorgeous pine cones for my bug hotel which were donated by a lovely gentleman from the next village. I even got a tour of his garden while I was there; log piles, ponds and bird nesting boxes attached to the trees showed that he is also interested in wildlife gardening. The piece de la resistance for me however was a pretty light lilac Hebe which was covered in bees and the first butterflies I have seen this year, two tortoiseshells. I didn’t have my camera with me so this is a picture from the internet; I couldn’t resist the glorious colours.

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My diversion, although very welcome, meant that I had to get a wiggle on if I was to make the Garden Centre in good time but I did it.

I had a list of suitable plants which will  encourage bees and butterflies into my garden and it didn’t take me long to select my favourites; Coreopsis ” Tickseed” (birds and bees), Coreopsis “Zagreb” (birds and butterflies), Sedum “Brilliant”, (butterflies), Achillea “Summer fruits lemon” (wildlife), Buddleja “Empire Blue” (Butterflies) and finally, I found the very same variety of Hebe that was so successful in attracting bees and butterflies, “Sparkling Sapphires.” It even has a lovely name.

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Back home, car unloaded it was time to get to work again. My idea was to create a luscious bee and butterfly garden with the Belfast sink making a mini-pond in the middle. I have ordered my pond plants to arrive on Wednesday so I ended up planting around an empty sink. I can’t wait to see what the finished garden will look like with the pond up and running but I will have to be patient.

In the meantime on with the planting and so the bee and butterfly grove was born.

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This is only one small area of the larger wildlife garden which is coming together nicely now. I am hoping that it will flow through from one wildlife themed garden to the next and so far, it’s looking good. Next on the list (after planting up my two new ponds), an arch for honeysuckle to climb up between the butterfly grove and the new pond area.

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For now, I will have to make do with a glass of vino and a rest on the railway sleeper bench enjoying the fruits of my labours so far.

Just like Tessa!

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Coffee break

The great thing about working from home is that I can take my coffee break in the garden. It’s nice to get some fresh air after wrestling with tax return figures and now, with my wildlife garden well under way, I have the added pleasure of watching the birds come and feed on the numerous dishes at their disposal.

I am getting more birds and more varied species every day and today was the turn of three blue tit fledglings. Still a little fluffy and more confident than their parents who are not so happy to come close with Jasper the dog rummaging through the undergrowth.

I’m loving the peace and thrill of watching these creatures feed successfully knowing that I am doing my bit to help them survive.

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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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