Well, the 30 Days app suggested eating outside so let’s examine why eating outside is good for you. It has been suggested that eating outside can make the food taste better, concentration improves, eating in the sunlight can improve vitamin D and increase your immune system. I don’t know how much truth there is any of this but eating outside certainly feels like an event. Whether it’s a BBQ or a picnic these are events that can be remembered for a long time. It creates a chance for bonding as a family or just a break on yourself.
Previous years I’ve walked barefoot on the grass but as Alice doesn’t like going barefoot very much we’ve just looked today at getting closer to the ground. While she might not like going barefoot she is quite happy rolling it and sniffing it.
Grass has many potential benefits. It can improve air quality by capturing carbon and it acts as a pollution filter. Areas of grass stay cooler than many hard surfaces. Then there are the mental benefits of green spaces. Green spaces can lower blood pressure and help mental well-being. Well worth celebrating and getting a bit closer with to connect with.
Through taking part in 30 days wild in previous days I was switched onto the Wildflower Hour. This has helped develop my knowledge of wildflowers and their names. While for many people this might not seem that significant. What’s in a name? But it does matter. If we can’t name plants, insects, birds we can’t monitor their decline. Without figures we can’t gain support for protecting species. That said I mainly just enjoy taking pleasure in the seasonal shifts from one flower to the next. Paying attention to the flowers and insects around us helps to cultivate mindfullness and improve piece of mind.
Getting out on even a short walk can find a good number of species. On just a short 100m stretch along the seafront I found a good variety of wildflowers along the grass bank.
The umbels of cow parsley out in large drifts.
Pretty little geranium/cranesbill seeding on the upper levels of the slope.
A battered dog rose attracting the pollen beetles.
A few patches of mallow.
Lots of snails out.
Further back from the seafront in a ditch there were a few yellow flag irises.
Reading the wildflower hour posts has helped improve my knowledge but a field guide is useful. I have a couple but it’s the wildflower key I go back to the most. A jewelers loupe was recomended when I started looking at IDing. it isn’t really necessary for most but it is interesting taking a closer look at the structure of plants.
Hope you’ve enjoyed my little wander. What can you find?
Time for Six on Saturday. The last week has seen a little bit more sun. There have still been days of rain but not as much as the previous week. I’m spoilt for choice for selecting my six at the moment. The roses are coming to full force along with the last few allium varieties and lilies coming through behind.
1. Allium nigrum
These alliums were bought very late on in December last year when they had been reduced. They have still come through fine. I dotted these about in little groups. Quite nice having the pure white as the purple is largely going to seed now and not showing as much now. I’ve had to stake them with all of last weeks rain but they’ve all held on. The climbing rose behind featured a few weeks back is still going strong.
2. Hosta halcyon
I’ve put this hosta in the front garden. It’s been sat in its pot from winter. It was a cheap purchase out of season when it looked like a pot of dead leaves. It is one of the few blue-leaved hostas I have. I could really do with some more but this should fill a decent space. It can grow between half a metre and a metre tall so one patch should fill a good patch of ground.
Alice and Amy bought me this little coleus from Tesco’s. Coleus is a tender annual in this country. I’ve got some growing from seed currently and I’m planning to use this as filler in the front garden while the ferns and hostas fill out. The bright foliage adds some strong contrast to the largely green ferns and hostas.
I bought three of this small heuchera from the local plant sale last month. They’ve been sat in their pots and felt they needed to get in the ground. These have lovely veined leaves. They are evergreen so will mean we keep some interest in winter when many of the hostas and deciduous ferns fade away. Once the area is planted up I’m probably going to a layer of mulch and then gravel as the clay soil and bare ground doesn’t look the best.
5. Lychnis Coronaria-rose campion
This silver-leaved plant did really well through the drought last year. It self-seeded around the border. I’ve moved a few patches and allowed it to form a mass clump around the parent. The little pink flowers keep going for a good number of months. The hoverflies were swarming over them last year. With a greater mass, it will hopefully bring in lots of pollinators.
6. Yellow rose
This rose came with the garden. It grows up through the choisya and repeat flowers through Summer into Autumn if the weather is mild. The buds start as little flames. They open a bright yellow before fading to a buttery creamy yellow. I wasn’t keen on it when we first moved in as it was the only yellow in the garden but I’ve come to appreciate it’s colour shift and the fact that it has reliably kept flowering.
Hope you’ve enjoyed my six. I’ve got lots of tidying to do. The extension is almost finished. Just a few tidying jobs to do then we can sit in the new garden room to look out at the abundance of Summer. Dahlia seedlings need potting on and I may put some of the larger ones in the ground now. Enjoy your weekends.
Today looking at another quick project to attract more nature to your garden. Building a log pile house. Log piles attract a whole host of insects and depending on the size they can home mammals, amphibians and reptiles. Deadwood brings in many beetles, woodlice and worms in the soil underneath. From there you get networks of spiders hunting over the pile. Over winter the pile can provide hibernation space for a number of pollinators. If there are gaps at the bottom frogs will rest in the cool shade of your pile. If you can manage larger woodpiles it may attract hedgehogs coming to eat the beetles and other treats or to find a hibernation spot.
Mine is only a small pile made from a bought bag of logs. Alternatively, you can gradually gather wood from your own prunings or gathering some on walks.
For teachers with school gardens, a log pile proves useful when you come to do your minibeast hunting as it almost guarantees you will find something. Even just a few logs left out a couple of days will attract life. Then when you pick it up and look under the kids can enjoy seeing the bugs scatter. Then you don’t spend a fruitless hour with a class spotting nothing.
I have a wooden hedgehog home but I don’t like to put food in where I want the hedgehogs to settle. My hedgehog feeding station isn’t particularly swish. It’s a homemade effort but it does the job effectively. I bought a cheap plastic storage box, sawed a hole in and taped around the rough edges. The bricks on the top are to stop the cats getting in. It might not look amazing but it does the job. Hedgehogs have used it and it gives them a safe place I can put food and water. Apart from being rather pleasant animals, they are great at eating slugs. I use the trail camera to track them but every so often I’m lucky and go out at night and see one.
With the break in the rain, the birds are back out in force. The dusk chorus has been singing away and it was a joy to listen to. Taking a few minutes to sit and listen to birdsong is a simple pleasure but a very enjoyable one. Earlier in the year, the RSPB put birdsong in the chart with let nature sing. If for some reason you are unable to get outside or to a spot you can hear birdsong through this track and it gives a donation to the RSPB.
While it is nice to hear the songs I’ve been working on tuning into the bird’s songs to be able to identify through their sound. The RSPB has a new book and CD set out to help identify birdsong. Earlier in the year, I was gifted this lovely set that gives details of each bird then has tracks it plays through a built-in speaker.
For a free option, the long-running BBC Tweet of the day gives you a way to gradually build your knowledge. There is a massive back catalogue of episodes to listen to all for free. With many people following this blog for my gardening content you may enjoy Monty Don on the return of the swallows.