Tag Archive | nature

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.

IMG_2902.JPG

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.

IMG_2901.JPG

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!

IMG_2904.JPG

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.

IMG_2903.JPG

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.

IMG_2824

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.

small-tortoiseshell

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.

Hebe

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.

IMG_2822

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.

IMG_2823

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!

IMG_2818

 

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.

IMG_2729

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.

toadabode

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.

IMG_2608

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.

IMG_2609

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.

IMG_2610

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

IMG_2611

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.

IMG_2613

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.

IMG_2615

“Build it and he/she/it/they will come”

This often misquoted quote comes to mind as I now have my first resident in my Hedgehog Hotel and first (same) customer in my Hedgehog Café. I built the Hotel and Café next to each other on the same luxury complex just last week so it hasn’t taken one little hog long to secure their cosy pad with food on-tap. These creatures are so clever.

IMG_2500

Hedgehog Hotel and Café in my wildlife garden

 

The single-storey and single-room Hotel is actually a Hogitat ready made hedgehog home which I covered with twigs and branches, leaves and handfuls of hay to make it look like a natural mound. I also put handfuls of dry leaves, straw and hay inside for bedding.

I set it so that the entrance faces the wall and the access is hidden behind a tree. The hedgehog should feel pretty safe and secure once in situ. It is protected from wind, and shouldn’t get too warm as it is out of direct sunlight.

I then bought a plastic box for the Café, choosing to place it upside down near to the Hogitat home, securing it with tent pegs so that other animals (notably my two cats and Jasper the naughty Cockerpoo)  can’t tip it up to get at the delicious mealworms and sunflower hearts. A bowl of water is also kept topped-up as I am feeding dry food.   I’m hoping that he/she/it will start eating the slugs crawling up the garden wall when settled in!

IMG_2475

Dining out on mealworms in the Cafe

 

So all in all, I am thrilled with my new resident and the fact that having made the effort to provide a home for a hedgehog, I have been rewarded so quickly!

IMG_2482

Checking all is clear

 

I also checked this morning and the hedgehog is still there, curled up in a ball of straw as I intended.

IMG_2506

Toddling off back to bed

 

I’m hoping its a female and that she makes this den her forever home so we have a chance of seeing some hoglets if not this year, then maybe next.

I’m loving this project more every day!

Nature

“You can never get your fill of nature, Samuel.

To be surrounded by it is to be stilled. It salves the heart.

The mountains, the trees, the endless plains.

The moon, the myriad of stars.

Every man can be made quiet and complete.

Even the lowliest misanthrope or the wretchedest sinners.”

(Arthur Burns from The Proposition)

If the cap fits (2)

My previous post outlined my responses to some of the traits which are common to Empaths. Here is the second part of that response as promised.

Love of nature and animals: Being outdoors in nature is a must for Empaths and pets are an essential part of their life.

My garden is my pride and joy.

I love being outdoors in open space and fresh air. I hate being cooped up all day and this particularly cold and drab winter has been very difficult to cope with on occasions. Golf is great for me as long as I keep it non-competitive. It combines the outdoors, mastery of new skills and gentle exercise. I only wish I had more time for golf.

I have always had pets and can’t imagine a house without them, even if it’s a hamster sleeping away in the corner all day and only coming to life when I’m off to bed! Our pets give us an immense amount of pleasure and they are totally spoiled. If I won the lottery, my first purchase would be a nice house, with a huge garden and paddocks for lots of animals.

 Need for solitude

An absolute necessity and this is the main reason I am unable to work long hours. I need time to myself every day and if I don’t get this time, my mental health deteriorates very quickly. The consequences can be devastating. Getting home late from work, eating, then going straight to bed, having to get up again at 5am the following morning is not sustainable as there is no “me” time built-in for recovery. Some people can do this day in day out and take their mental health for granted. Sadly I can’t and without doubt, my career progress has suffered greatly over the years as I am limited to the amount of working hours I can do. This is something that has caused me much upset in the past but I am now reconciled to under-performing and not reaching my potential despite my best efforts. As someone once told me, sometimes doing just enough has to be enough.

Gets bored or distracted easily if not stimulated

Oh yes! I have a very low boredom threshold and love learning new skills. I have many and varied interests and those who read my blog regularly will know that this year I decided I wanted to learn to ice-skate at the tender age of 50!

Caroline finally masters backwards lemons

Intolerance to narcissism

I have no time for these people.

Feeling others emotions and taking them on as your own

The killer blow and something I was not aware of until 3 years ago.

It was in May 2010 that I admitted publicly that I suffer with depression and have done for many many years.

Why did I start my Blog-Part 1

Why did I start my Blog-Part 2

Following my admission and for the next 6 months I was inundated with people wanting to talk to me about their experiences of depression and I was only too pleased to be able to help. The only problem was that it wasn’t helping me and I didn’t realise that I was unconsciously absorbing much of their distress and taking it on board. This affected my mood badly and in November 2010 I was advised to take time off work to redress the balance. I quickly learned that if I wanted to keep helping others with depression, I needed to become more remote and detached from their feelings and whilst I could offer practical suggestions and advice how to cope, I couldn’t fight their battles for them.

Good advice but difficult to do if your natural instinct is telling you otherwise.

There are a good many other indicators to Empath “status” but they will have to wait until another day.

In the meantime I would be very interested to hear your thoughts and comments. This is new but fascinating territory for me and any and all views are welcome 🙂

Winter lingers

Stubborn frost pockets
Resistant to midday warmth
Sheets of smooth black ice

Bright white-out, wipe out
Icicle necklets drape low
Patterned ice crystals

Dazzling low sun
Hear the cracks and drips of thaw
False dawn, night refreeze

Hoar frost coats berries
Ivy mingled with snow clings
Glacial sharp winds

Endless winter dark
Swirling fog eerie quiet
Faded shapes, outlined

November Arctic
No respite, forever cold
White Christmas? You bet!