Feed the birds-Haith’s bird seed

Haith’s bird food contacted me a few weeks back to tell me they have released two new seed bags they would like me to review. I have reviewed Haith’s products in the past, that said I still buy from Haith’s for much of my bird food. They are relatively local to me in Lincolnshire, a well-established family business, that makes good quality feed. So while in the interest of disclosure I didn’t pay for these I do buy from the company. The seed is cleaned making it healthier for the birds. Many birdseed mixes contain dust and waste husk that may be harmful to birds.

Before I put in the new mixes I’ve given my bird feeders a good clean with boiling water. I’ve said this before but regularly cleaning your feeders is important to limit the spread of disease between birds. I’ve replace many of my feeders with metal feeders that are easy to dismantle and clean but I still use these two Peckish feeders for my main seed feeders. They dismantle easily to clean. With the wet weather, some of the previous supermarket seed mix was starting to sprout. The seed tray catchers I bought separately but these have helped minimise waste and allow more birds to get a grip on the feeders.

I’ve been sent two mixes to review one for all and winterberry. Haith’s package their own mixes within these paper bags sealed with string. I normally buy in the bigger packs to cut down on plastic waste. They are delivered within a postage bag that contains some plastic but by buying large amounts at once it cuts down the number and frequency used.

The one for all mix contains sunflower hearts and peanut granules. Sunflower hearts are very popular in my garden with tits and finches. Haith’s have found, in their testing, the combination attracted more than the sunflower hearts on their own. It’s also listed as no mess so I shouldn’t have lots of random plants sprouting underneath. This is a mix aimed at benefitting the birds through all seasons.

The winterberry mix contains a mix of seed and fat pellets to help birds over the winter where the birds need a high energy source to reward them for visiting the feeders.

I’ve left them on the long feeders as next doors cat has been in a lot and it can’t get up these ones. I have a lot of the feeders hidden in the trees where the birds can visit safely but I want to see what is visiting these and these can be viewed from the house.

Within minutes the pigeons and doves were in trying to work out how to hang off the feeders to get at the seed. These were followed shortly by the sparrows. We’ll see what follows over the next few days.

Haith’s stock a good range of bird food and wildlife supplies and are well worth checking out. While some are more expensive than your value feed the birds really do seem to love it. Buying in bulk can make savings too. I’ll report back probably in next weeks six on Saturday of what has come visiting. Feeding the birds provides a great simple bit of pleasure and I wouldn’t want to be without them.

https://www.haiths.com

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Six on Saturday: 12.10.19

I haven’t had much time in the garden this week between rain and work but still some colour on the go. The cosmos and dahlias took a good beating last week but they are still putting on a smaller show. We’ve had builders back in fixing the roof so still got everything off the patio leaving a mess of pots over the lawn but can’t do much about that right now. Just dream of what it may become.

1. Honeysuckle

The honeysuckle flowers have ripened to berries adding bursts of colour along the two stretches of honeysuckle in the garden. I try to leave off pruning so they get a chance to form to give the birds another source of food, though I haven’t seen many going for these yet.

2. Geese

As the swifts and housemartins have left us another visitor has come in. The geese have been a regular sighting in huge flocks. They come swarming over the garden honking away. Many geese migrate to the UK for the Winter. As these are coming from the direction of the Mere I’m assuming they’ve stopped off there and are now heading further inland.

3. Sambucus Nigra ‘Black Lace’

This Sambucus was planted as a tiny little stick with few leaves on earlier in the year. It is establishing well having put on a good metre or more growth. These were on the list of plants recommended for coastal gardens and it seems happy enough with the winds. It could do with moving out from the fence a bit for more space but I think this will look good in the space. The Dryopteris fern to the side donated from my mum is establishing alright and the geraniums in front seem happy.

4. Cotoneaster

I planted this cotoneaster on the edge of the patio. I’m aiming for it to fill the corner gap so Alice doesn’t throw herself off the patio. I’m also hoping the berries will bring birds close to the house. The jasmine to the side has been slow to settle but has shown small signs of growth. I’d mentioned last week about trying to get some evergreen climbers and this is forms part of that.

5. Wild sweet William

I believe this is a variety of phlox. It was growing in abundance when I took over the garden. I’ve dug out lots but always leave a handful. It’s meant to be good for butterflies though I can’t remember ever seeing any on it.

6. Sea Holly

The sea holly was planted as it formed part of my wedding flowers last year. It has been a long time flowering but has finally done it. This was just a cheap Tesco purchase as rootstock. There are nicer varieties with the blue edging on the leaves as well but it is bringing in the bees during the odd patch of dry weather this week.

Well, that’s it for this week. I doubt I’ll manage much more this weekend in the garden but not long until half term now and then I’ll get a decent chance to get on with the bulb planting. I hope you all enjoy your weekends.

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P.S. The passionflower planted last week has flowered and it is spectacular. I doubted that it would flower but it has managed it with a few more buds to come possibly.

Six on Saturday: 5.10.19-bulbs and peat-free

We enter a new month and Autumn is definitely upon us now. The leaves are changing colour or falling. As I live by the sea I often don’t get to enjoy the change in colour as it often goes from Summer to the leaves blown straight off. But the dogwood and hydrangeas are doing good impressions of Autumn currently. Much of Autumn gardening ends up being about tidying or preparing for Spring. The bulb planting has begun in earnest now. The garden has taken a battering the last week with rain and wind. A few plants have flopped under the weight of the rain and a few snapped. But that’s fine as the winter foliage plants stand out more and I do like my ferns and heucheras.

1. Iris reticulata

I have got round to planting the iris discussed in previous posts. I enjoyed my irises this year and vowed to get more. I am trying growing the iris in the same pots as the hostas. The idea being the iris will flower, then die down as the hosta come back up. Time will tell whether this was a good plan. I’ve got two varieties so far. The classic Harmony and Katherine Hodgson. I went with the Katherine Hodgson in one of the taller hosta pots and then the harmony are spread over two of the pots filled with the 50p hostas bought a few weeks back.

2. Clematis

Thompson and Morgan had another of their flash sales on clematis. So I now have 4 more clematises. Clematis winter beauty was one of the main ones I wanted. It’s an evergreen variety with small white bell-shaped flowers in winter. Amy doesn’t want ivy but I want evergreen climbers so I’ve been working through the options. Clematis Kokone is a ruffly purple variety that flowers in Summer. I’m split between trying this up the fence in one of the few remaining spaces or to try it up one of the trees. The Florida ‘Taiga’ and ‘green apple’ I want to try in pots growing up obelisks. But I need to find a decent-sized pot for this to work.

3. Butterfly-comma

Last weekend saw, what I think is, my first sighting of a comma butterfly in my garden. I haven’t seen these much in my areas since a brownfield area was bought for housing development. A welcome sighting. This butterfly went through a rapid decline and then has steadily come back in the south of the UK but has been working its way North. The caterpillars feed on nettles, but will also feed on willows and hops. I don’t have hops or willows but there are plenty of nettles in the back passage behind the garden so hopefully, these could become a regular feature.

4. Cosmos

The cosmos combined with dahlia have looked stunning for a good month, but the wind and rain has flattened and snapped many stems. It’s been nice while it lasted. But removing the patch reveals the evergreen ferns that will keep the garden structure through winter. I’m cutting down to the snapped stems, so I may still get some more flowers but not as grand a display as I’ve been enjoying. On the bright side, a bit less deadheading to do.

5. Buxus sempervivums

I recently discovered a local company, The Little Green Plant Factory, selling plants reared peat-free, plastic-free and chemical-free. The plants are very well priced. With all the ethical boxes ticked I needed to give them a try. I ordered two box shrubs. These were a good price. Just little specimens currently but look well-rooted and healthy. The plants came packed in cardboard in biodegradable pots with wool weed suppressant on the top. They were wrapped in straw for protection. I’m planning to grow these in pots on the patio to act as wind buffs for the less hardy plants. While only little currently they will grow quickly enough. I’m thinking square planters for this. I’ve never really grown topiary before so I’m only aiming for rough domes. A lot of the plants listed on the site are not currently available as they are growing but I’m interested to follow the progress of this company.

I actually drive through the village where this is based but currently mail order based. Though they do offer £1 delivery to Beverley for anyone local.

6. Passionflower-Snow queen

My second purchase from “The little green plant factory” has been another passionflower. This time a white variety. This was a crossbreed between the hardy caerula and white wedding. It has gone a little further along the fence from the existing passionflower. I’m hoping it has enough time to settle into its position before winter, but I’ll give it a good mulch to protect the roots to be on the safe side. In bad winters they can be killed back but will regrow from the ground. It had a decent bit of growth on it and several buds. This has the advantage over the popular Constance Elliot of having larger blooms that stay open longer. It has a few flower buds on but I don’t know if it will be sunnier or warm enough to flower this year but fingers crossed.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this weeks six and peoples gardens are holding up alright against the onslaught of the weather. I’ve had a Gee-Tee bulb delivery of 200 croci. 100 white for the front garden and 100 mixed for the back but don’t know that I’ll have time to plant them but we’ll see. Even if I can just get some in that will cut the workload. But no great rush on these. They can wait a bit longer.

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Summer Holiday: Part 4 Exbury Gardens

I have already discussed the wonders of the gardens in a previous six on Saturday blog but there was plenty I didn’t include so here is a bit more about the day.

When we first arrived we had a short period of time before we got on the steam train so Alice had a quick play in the playground. She is getting more and more adventurous.

She initially wanted help on the rope then told us to stand back.

The train gave us views of the dragonfly ponds and the rock garden which we didn’t manage to walk to.

Alice enjoyed spotting the sculptures.

Walking backwards is great fun.

Constant snacking is vital for taking a three-year-old anywhere.

I talked about the amazing hydrangeas and many of the other plants in the previous blog on Exbury but didn’t give much space to the acers/maples that I was also taken by. It’s a popular garden option that I struggle to grow because of the wind scorch. Over the last few months, I’ve bought a number to try in my own garden. Acer Butterfly is still doing well, but several of the others have suffered a bit. Getting the balance between giving them shelter and being able to see them is tough with my conditions. Here are a few from Exbury.

I heard plenty of birds during the day but didn’t see many through the thick woodland canopy but did see a good number of fluffy robins.

It was a superb garden and I still have plenty more photos I haven’t shown but these hydrangeas are worth revisiting. Hope you’ve enjoyed the extra shots.

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Bay and Bempton

We’ve returned from visiting the in-laws at Robin Hood’s Bay. We’ve had a lovely time despite the grey weather. It’s been back and forth between glorious sunshine, mizzle and thunderstorms. But we did manage to get out and about a bit.

We made it to the local Horticultural societies competition. Some very good veg entries. Alice liked the children’s gardens.

She was also quite taken by this sardine tin display.

The all-important amusing vegetable category.

We’ve had plenty of time playing in the garden but I will probably save that for this weeks six on Saturday.

This was the weather for much of the weekend. Grey with a mist of light rain blowing in.

Though we didn’t let that put us off. We just got kitted up.

Alice did really well going up and down the cliff. It’s a steep walk and we see lots of tourists panting back up every visit but Alice has managed walking up and down several times this trip. Previously she’s travelled in the baby howdah but she’s too big now and the pram is useless at the Bay.

Alice had a good time rock pooling though we didn’t find much beyond snails. She did enjoy throwing seaweed back in the pools. Though she couldn’t handle getting her shorts wet. We’ll need a swimming costume next time. Previous visits she hasn’t even wanted to go in the water at all though. Whereas now she’s happily exploring.

Lots of dead crab shells around.

Her best catch.

At the bottom of the hill, there are these big belly bins. They have solar panels on the top and we’ve been wondering what for.  I looked it up and they are rather fascinating. The solar panel powers a compressor so the bin can hold more for busy locations. It can also signal when the bins need collecting to reduce the number of pickups lowering its carbon footprint and saving trips to difficult to reach locations. The bottom of Robin Hood’s Bay is as bad a location as you could ask for. It has a steep narrow road with little turning room. So these seem a very clever solution to keeping the place neat.

On the road down the walls are covered in ferns. the ravine is one of my favourite parts of the bay with a mass of ferns and mosses growing from every crack. I could happily replicate this in my garden with my fern obsession.

Alice has enjoyed very too many ice creams in the last few days. She has been going through lots of tantrums recently and we’ve been making it clear whiney whingey girls don’t get ice cream.

Alice is becoming very adventurous at the park climbing and jumping off greater heights.

We had some moments of sunshine.

The Victoria pub has finished its extension since we got married last year. It’s looking good and has probably the best view out of the bay of any of the pubs and restaurants.

On the way home, we stopped off at Bempton Cliffs. Traditionally it rains whenever we visit but we actually had glorious sunshine for a change. Alice wasn’t up to walking very far as she was in a tired, hungry mood. We did make it down to the first observation spot to see the cliffs. The seabirds flying from the cliff swooping down to the water is always a spectacular sight.

We managed to see one of the star attractions up close. Normally we’ve seen the puffins at a distance through telescopes but there was one close enough for a recognisable photo rather than a blur in the distance. I’m not winning wildlife photographer of the year with this one. But nice for Alice to actually be able to make one out.

Though it’s not all about the birds. The insect life was pretty amazing too in the sun.

The wildlife at Bempton face so many threats with habitat destruction and changing climate that I continue to support the RSPB even though we probably only manage a trip a year. Each time we visit I hope for Alice’s sake these wonderful birds are still there as she grows up.

Amy was taken with this lovely little chappy so he was brought home which is now stopping the door rattling in the wind helping Amy’s dislike of noises.

We’ve had a lovely time and have more holiday left to enjoy.

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Six on a Saturday: 20.7.19 holiday time

It is holiday time for me as a teacher. Got through another year. Now I get six weeks to catch up on weeding and enjoy the garden. But in true holiday fashion, it’s raining. But the water butts are getting refilled at least. I’ve been using the new butts for most of the watering at the front and to do the patio pots at the back. They’d just run out the last few days. Lasted pretty well.

1. Lilies

These lilies came from Thompson and Morgan. I’m sure they were meant to be a variety of colours but so far they are all pink. The growth has been a bit untidy as they were hidden away during building work. They probably would have benefited from staking and being rotated with the sun but the flowers are a nice bright burst. These tall pots are designed for lilies but I think I might change to hostas after these are done. They look good spilling out of tall pots and keeps the snails off a bit.

2. Lavender

I removed a lot of the lavender in the border as it had got leggy in a shaded position. I’ve kept a few in pots. My soil is heavy clay and not suited to lavender. In the pots, I can make the compost with lots of grit and sand to give it the drainage it needs. These pots have thrived for three years now. Very good for wildlife. When in full flower it gets lots of visitors.

3. Bargain Acer’s

I got these two little Acer’s for £5 from Thompson & Morgan. Acer palmatum ‘Atropurpureum is a purple-leaved variety turning to orange in Autumn. Then the orange dream is yellow turning again to orange for more Autumn interest. These are tiny at the moment and will probably go in pots for now. The couple I’ve got already suffer from leaf scorch with the strong sea winds so I have to keep them sheltered. They are an example of wrong plant wrong place but I like them enough that I’ve persisted trying to find the right place for them and planting shelter for them. While these two don’t look like much currently I’ve got the patience to see them grow gradually.

4. Water bath

Alice has been a bit obsessed with filling the water bath but the seagulls are appreciating her efforts.

5. Love in a mist

I sowed the seeds for these quite late on and they’ve been drowned by other growth. Some are poking out though. A lovely flower to photograph.

6. Hydrangea Libelle

This pretty lacecap was a birthday present. It suffered a bit from frost’s and wind but with plenty of watering it picked up again beautifully. I don’t normally use plastic pots but I thought with the thirsty nature of hydrangeas this would benefit from a plastic pot. This pot is meant to be a self-watering pot. It has a reservoir set up at the bottom so it doesn’t all drain out. The flowers are a bit sparse, but only the first year, though looking lovely. I’ve moved it to the pride position outside the back door so we see lots of it. The limelights planted this year are set to flower as well. Lots of hydrangea love this year!

Today is Hornsea carnival. We’ll probably head out later if the weather holds. There will be a float parade and rides and fairground games in the park, then usually a few craft stall. So probably won’t get up to much in the garden today. On a side note, Alice had her first sporting victory this week at the nursery sports day. Very proud of her.

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Six on Saturday: 13.7.19

Last weekend we were over at my parents for lunch and a lot looking good. This week I’m looking at six aspects of their garden that I’m claiming credit for. I’ve had divisions of their plants for many years and now they are starting to claim from my garden in return. My mum has been dropping not so subtle hints that she wants one of my dahlia seedlings.

1. Lychnis

This was a self-seeder from my garden I passed onto my mum. It’s looking good with the darker fuschia behind it.

2. Heuchera

My mum is adding more foliage plants following my lead. The green, dark-veined I think she bought with me at a local plant sale.  Nice combination of colours and should add some interest throughout the year.

3. Hostas

While my parents have grown hostas before they’ve gone for more this year which I’m sure is down to my mass front garden planting. The forest grass in the middle is also doing well. My clumps are a bit weedy currently but will come on in time hopefully.

4. Succulents

My parents have been away recently so they’d planned to give their usual bedding plants in pots a miss as they would have needed watering. So this means they’ve not bothered with the usual collection of pelargoniums. A plant I’m not bothered for in any way. Instead, they’ve gone for some pots of sempervivum’s copying my pots. They’ll survive better over the holidays through the heat.

5. Wildlife gardening

Over the last few years, my parents have added lots of bird feeders and bug houses across their garden. The middle of one border is dominated by a well-established cherry tree. It fruits well. They’d tried netting it to save the cherries from getting taken by the birds but have given up on this now. In the past, I think my mum would happily have gone along with Mr Twits plan to paint the branches with hug tight glue to get birds for a pie.

But this year there are enough for them and the birds to share.

6. Hide and seek

We had a nice time out in parents garden and a good meal. Alice wasn’t so bothered for the food but she did enjoy playing hide and seek. Though her hiding skills leave a lot to be desired.

It’s looking pretty grey out there. It feels pretty humid. We need some rain to break the heat. I’m heading out with Alice to her nursery today as it’s the Summer Fair. They’ve got birds of prey and the forest school open so should be fun. See what tat we win on the tombola. Hope you enjoy your weekends. Check the participant guide if you fancy joining in with six on Saturday.

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