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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.
Sadly, walking the dog through the countryside yesterday brought on my hay fever and therefore today I decided to make the most of my Wildlife Garden and stay home. I created my Wildlife Garden in 2016 on a piece of land hidden behind our garage. Hubby spent a lot of time and hard work growing beans in very dry and barren soil, even though we had worked diligently to improve the soil with manure, conditioner etc. I managed to persuade him to give up gracefully so I could take it over for my Wildlife Project.
Luckily it has been very successful and 4 years later I enjoy sightings of many varieties of birds, insects, hedgehogs, frogs and the odd dragonfly. We even have a couple of squirrels which come to scavenge the peanuts.
My favourite bird which visits my garden is the goldfinch but only because of the vivid colours of its feathers. It’s almost tropical. Unlike the cheeky and almost tame blackbirds and robins, the goldfinches are a bit skittish so if I am to get a photo I need to set my camera up well before they arrive with the shutter button within reach of my hand without alerting them to movement. If they spot anything out of kilter they fly off.
I have managed to take some photos over the last couple of days so here’s my Random Act of Wildness contribution for Day 2.
Tut. Tut. SIX months since my last post-that’s a record and not one I care to brag about. The good news is that I am winning my fight against those Black-Dog and extremely anxious days which can creep up gradually when your guard is down or just as likely strike without warning as a reaction to specific circumstances. At 55 years young I consider myself a slow learner but I’m not sure whether I am slowing down as a result of my age or, more hopefully, my experience but either way, a slower and more measured and calm way of life seems to suit me.
My mother always said that if I had been born 30 years later I would have been diagnosed as “hyper-active.” My psychologist initially thought I was bi-polar due to the extreme fluctuations between energy and fatigue and even now I get comments that I do too much and I have more energy than many people much younger. I make sure every second counts in my waking hours and I am always doing and making something but I am learning to do it slower and try to enjoy being in the moment.
Driven by a combination of both nature and nurture I have to make use of every waking moment and, unless I am making quilts, hedgehog houses, cards, or Twinchies, decorating, gardening, blogging, taking photographs or organising my next project, I am wasting my time. I can’t help it, I have to be doing something but, although I do get tired, I get a lot of satisfaction from my many and varied activities and this helps me keep mental equilibrium (and sleep).
I have decided that much like Tutenkhamun, I will be buried with my most treasured possessions; knitting needles, sewing machine, crochet hook, camera, hammer, nails and electric saw and, maybe IF I get to heaven,there will be a long-arm quilting machine, unlimited Kaffe Fassett fabric, a very patient crochet teacher, a wide-angle lens and pre-cut wood pieces waiting for me!
Here’s just a few of the projects I have been working recently.
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 love butterflies. Delicate and colourful they flit around the garden, swooping between the trees, dipping and rising as their light bodies are caught on the breeze. They often settle on our red-brick wall, enjoying the warm sunshine as they open and close their wings.
This year I wanted to grow lots of butterfly friendly plants and flowers and, having created a butterfly garden with a variety of dwarf and standard buddleias, ice-plants, hebes and echinaceas I had to be patient and wait for the butterflies to appear.
It took a while but my patience was rewarded with the arrival of a few different varieties in the end.
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…..
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Smother pine cones in peanut butter and roll in the bird seed.
Hang on trees and wait for the feasting to begin.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!