Six on Saturday-14.7.18

A the garden is seeing a lot of the taller plants coming into flower. The lawn is holding on. The shaded parts still looking lush, while the centre is looking dryer and dryer.

1. Fennel

The fennel is growing good and strong currently. I grow it for the umbel flowers that are good for butterflies. I’ve got a few smaller plants to put in the border. The feathery foliage makes a good contrast to the dark leaves of the camellia and hollyhocks around it.

2. Unknown perennial

Bought for me last year. It lacked a label. It has been on the verge of flowering for weeks and is now putting on a good show.

3. Fuchsia

The first of the fuchsias is now flowering well. I took this one out of the border as it was getting swamped and put it into a pot. The contrasting white and pink flowers are quite attractive. Quite a few of the fuchsias didn’t survive the harsh winter, so happy this is a survivor.

4. Teasel

The teasel has featured earlier in the year. It has grown up above the fence and has an abundance of flowers growing tall attracting in the insects. While quite spectacular it has quite a large footprint in the border taking up a good metre square at the base. The leaves and stems have vicious spikes making it an unpleasant job tying up. Not sure if I’ll let it grow again. I’ll have to see if it brings in the birds later in the year.

5. Chives

My mum divided some of her chives. They were ripped apart by seagulls trampling them, but one has hung onto flower.

6. Rose Scarlet Paul’s climber

I planted two of these Tesco £2 plants to replace another climbing rose that was doing all its flowering above the fence and on the neighbours side. I’m going to try to train these so I get better flowering across the fence. The first flower has opened up. While this year I’ll only have a few flowers they are looking to be quite glorious. Proper Scarlett Harlots providing bright blooms on the fence. There are two clematis next to it that are going strong. They should intertwine well.

Initially opening as a dark bloom.

Still keeping a rich colour as it fades.

And that’s my six. Hope you enjoyed. I’ve got lots of dead heading to get on with and some of the ox eye daises and forget me nots are past their best. Time to trim and pull.

Follow on twitter

Six on a Saturday: 22.6.18

After several weeks of seeing everyone else’s roses flowering, the roses have finally flowered up North. The weekend is set to be a scorcher so going to be doing some watering. For the participants guide to six on a Saturday look here. Check the tag on twitter for a peak into lots of lovely gardens and veg plots.

1. Cottage maid

This was an new addition this year. This is a single flowering rose with a raspberry ripple effect on the petals. After a few days the ripple is fading leaving it looking like a pale pink, almost white flower. The smell was commented on the label as strong, but I can’t say I’ve noticed much, but my nose is blocked a bit currently.

It’s an old rose potentially growing to a good height, but I will probably keep it down. It will only do the one burst of flowers, so something to appreciate while it’s there. Looks like it’s going to give a reasonable display for it’s first year.

2. Yellow rose

The first year I took over the garden this was a poor performer. Last year after some feed it was a bit better. It grows out of another shrub, growing nice straight spires out if the foliage. After two Summers of lack lustre performances I was considering removing it. Almost everything else around us red, pink or shades of blue. It is just about the only yellow. But after giving it a good chop last year it’s come back stronger with lots of lovely large blooms.

The buds start as tight little flames.

Then opening to a bright sunshine yellow.

Before moving onto a rich, buttery creamy yellow.

3. Lychnis coronaria-rose campion

Rose campion is one of my favourites. It gives lots of little vibrant pink flowers. The hoverflies love it. It gives a good period of flowering. The hairy silver leaves makes it disagreeable to slugs and snails. They also provide a contrast to many of the surrounding plants. It has started to self seed with several small seedlings coming up from last years seed offerings.

4. Honeysuckle

Along the fence in the shady corner honeysuckle grows up the fence. It has been thriving there. It grows up and through the lilac. It smells beautiful, although I’m probably the only person who smells it when weeding underneath it. When sat on the bench you can get a good whiff of it. The first flowers are now opening.

[Imgur](https://i.imgur.com/DxjSWeW.jpg)

5. Plant supports

These plant supports were selling off at £3. I didn’t have anything particularly in mind, beyond maybe the new roses, but they had a massive reduction on them and I like a bargain.

6. The view from above

The garden is looking good, almost up to the zenith of Summer flowering. Alice’s bedroom has the view of it. The ox eye daisies are looking good on mass from above. Up close there a mass of stems trying to spill in every direction. My staking efforts straining against the mass. But it has given me plenty of cut flowers for the house. The hydrangeas are starting to bloom and the hollyhocks are almost set to flower. Alice gets the best view of it all from above.

Hope you all enjoy your weekends.

Follow on twitter.

Six on Saturday:26.5.18

This week has been a good week for gardeners with the mass coverage of the Chelsea Flower Show. I was happy with Chris Beardshaw as best in show and the Yorkshire Garden as the people’s choice. Both were clearly excellent quality show gardens. While often the show gardens have little relevance to my garden, with little I can take away to my own garden, I’ve like many of this years entries. I’m only halfway through watching the coverage, but it is now half term for me, so I’ve got time to catch up and give my own garden some attention.

1. Lavender

Along the front path I have a patch of lavender planted last year. These were 99p purchases that were bone dry needing some care. I’m glad to say they look like they’ve recovered and hopefully I grow these into a nice mass to give scent entering and leaving the house. I have a number of lavender patches around the front and back garden and several varieties. As a keen wildlife gardener it’s a reliable plant for helping support a wide variety of pollinators, so was a must for me despite the clay soil I work with. All the patches had plenty of grit mixed in when planted to help improve drainage. This patch at the front has been the first to flower this year.

2. Fennel

The fennel was planted last year. It only had a chance to form a small mound of feathery leaves. But as a hardy perennial it has come back stronger this year forming a nice mass of feather foliage. It makes a pleasing contrast to much of the more rounded leaves of the plants around it. Fennel forms umbels of yellow flowers that are good for butterflies to land on.

“It is an indisputable fact that appreciation of foliage comes at a late stage in our development

Christopher Lloyd

3. Tomatoes-gardeners delight

One of the parents at school has donated a tray of tomatoes. I’ve brought them back home to get them started and then will plant out into the school garden at a later date. This week is British Tomato Week for anyone thinking of buying a few plants. Tomatoes require a bit of love and attention, but should they get to picking stage it is a true taste delight eating your own tomatoes. I’ve grown them in a schools a few times, but not for a few years, so we’ll see how I get on.

4. Obelisk

I’ve set up a recent Aldi purchase of an obelisk. I’ve set it in a plastic half barrel planter. Not the prettiest thing, but needed a wide base. Maybe in future years I’ll splash out on a better quality one, but the width I needed it will do the job nicely for now. My sweet peas are coming on well on the windowsill and I’m looking to plant out onto this next week. The obelisk itself looks good and is making a good perch for the birds. Alice’s small hands helped get the soil into the container through the gaps in the obelisk, but has given it a little bit of a leaning tower effect.

5. Cosmea

The cosmea grown from seed is now getting it’s first flowers. The warm weather has brought them on a bit, but now it’s going colder again may halt there progress.

6. Birds

After a period of smaller numbers while the young hatched the number of birds has increased. The number of species is still low, but the quantity of starlings, sparrows and blackbirds is momentous for a small garden. I’m currently looking out on maybe 30/40 starlings, blackbirds scavenging in the border and sparrows along the fences. Today I’ve seen: starlings, sparrows, wrens, jackdaws, wood pigeon, collared dove, herring gull, blue tit, great tits and robins. While a noisy bunch it’s good to hear the cacophony of the young outside the double doors.

Hope you all enjoy your bank holiday weekend and have the chance to get outside into your gardens.

Six on a Saturday-21.4.18

This week my school got the phone call all teachers dread, the Ofsted phone call. So Monday was a mass amount of activity at work checking and rechecking our provision, which is absolutely fine, but this is what happens when you get the call. So come Wednesday I was ready for a bit of a rest. I managed to plant two new plants shared in today’s #SixonSaturday.

1. Bleeding heart

Asda provided me with the plant formerly known as Dicentra spectabilis, but now known as Lamprocapnos spectabilis. Or stick with the easier name bleeding heart. While it’s looking a bit dehydrated with the warm weather this week it did have an excellent root network. Many of the supermarket purchases have been a bit poor on this front, but this looks good.

2. Honeysuckle

Continuing on from previous weeks I’ve added one more climber, again as with the Jasmine I’m pushing for scent with a honeysuckle Belgica, more commonly known as early Dutch Honeysuckle. I already have a wonderful patch of honeysuckle, but it’s behind a tree and I only get to enjoy the scent when pruning or weeding near it. Generally while getting spiked by other things. They can go a bit rampant, but the other patch I just give one prune a year and it’s at a time when I don’t have much else to do in the garden. I also quite enjoy pruning the honeysuckle as it isn’t a job I do with a great degree of care. Again this has come from Asda and seems to have a decent root network and been reasonable looked after.

3. Primrose

Next is Victorian Lace primrose. These were a present last year for my birthday. While I probably wouldn’t have bought them for myself there pretty enough if a bit isolated at the moment.

4. Muscari

The muscari have finally decided to do something after seeing lots of other six on a Saturday posts flowering. It’s my first year growing them. My mum bought me a pack of bulbs last year. There pretty enough, but feel I probably need something else in the pot with them for some impact. I had in my head that they grew a bit bigger, so these tiny little blue burst seem a bit feeble at the moment. I think they need mixing up with something else next year.


5. Watering

After many months of only needing to water newly planted additions we have had a week of sunshine making watering necessary. At the moment just looking at a good soaking once a week for the border and pot plants I’ve done twice. Alice wanted “more water” though. So we made sure the bird baths and hedgehog bowl was filled.

6 Bean sticks

Rather than using my standard bamboo canes for support I’ve bought willow canes this year. The idea being they are sustainable and native grown lowering my carbon footprint in the garden. So rather than importing Eastern bamboo of various quality I’m going to give these a go. I think they look more attractive than the bamboo. I’m going to try the sweet peas up a wigwam frame of these.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my six for this week and enjoy getting out while the weather is nice. I’ll leave you with a rather nice blue tit photo from my journey home from work.

Follow on twitter or subscribe.

Dorset holiday part 4

Our next trip out on our Dorset adventure took us to the New Forest Wildlife Park. While I do favour seeing animals in their natural environments some I would never get the chance to see. The New Forest Wildlife Park has many animals that are rescue animals that have required a home to survive. While the ethics of keeping animals in this way is hotly debated as more and more animals become endangered captive animals may offer opportunities for reintroducing species back to the wild.

We were greeted by a bear.

The park holds a number of species of owl and these were some of the first animals we saw. Alice was still riding high on the coattails of seeing the Gruffalo characters the day before and was excited to see the owls again. As mentioned before I have a fondness for owls.

Having recently read Simon Cooper’s excellent book, “the otters’ tale” I was excited to see the otters at the park. The park has several species: the Asian short-clawed otter, giant otters and the North American Otters. Our native otter Lutra lutra was absent. But I enjoyed seeing the otters on offer bounding around. Truly amazing animals. Slick through the water and bounding playfully on land.

Alice was quick to spot them.

Inside we found the rather cute harvest mice and hedgehogs. I’m glad to say Alice correctly identified both.

The park feeds the birds in the forest. Blue tits and great tits were enjoying the feeders.

Underneath the feeders a taste of the wild, Rattus Norvegicus, the brown rat. While generally not a welcome visitor it was good to see this animal moving around the forest floor.

The lynx was very accomadating for photos.

Alice stopped for a brief break with Amy.

Wallabies roam the enclosure with you.

Alice was keen to spot the wolves with her binoculars, but no luck.

Another wild invader of the park.

Alice enjoyed digging in the play area.

The bees are starting to come out in greater numbers a sure sign Spring is here.

We didn’t make it round all the animals. There were more deer and bison across the other side of the park, but we didn’t think Alice’s legs would take any more.

Before heading back to the house we stopped off at IKEA for a few things for Alice’s room. It was just a short journey on from the park. While it was hell on Earth for me Alice seemed to think it was just a giant soft play area.

Once back at the house a tired Alice tucked herself into the blanket.

One last day to discuss of the holiday and then that’s the lot.

Dorset Holiday part 3

After a break for six on Saturday I’m returning to the write up of our Dorset holiday. Our third, and possibly my favourite day, took us to the Moors Valley Country Park and forest. The park is a joint venture between Dorset Council and the forestry commission. Any time I see the words forestry commission I equate it with expensive car park. We visit Dalby Forest up North fairly regularly and this is the same. They advertise as no entrance fee, which there isn’t. However they make up for this with a good parking charge. That said, it is money well spent as the areas they manage are beautiful with a rich diversity of species.

When we arrived it was very wet. Our waterproof trousers came in use again. One of the main reasons for wanting to come to the park, apart from the wildlife, was the Julia Donaldson walks. The parks have sculptures of all the key Gruffalo characters and a Highway Rat trail. Alice is currently loving the Julia Donaldson animated TV versions and will sit through the books. Her favourites are probably stickman and room on the broom currently. Room on the broom isn’t currently part of the forest, but still plenty for her to get excited by.

First she found the owl.

Then many excited cries of, “mouse”.

We paid for the Highway Rat activity pack in the visitor centre. The pack gives you some stickers, a mask and a few activities to do as you go round. It probably wasn’t worth the £3 for Alice as she’s too young for most of it, but never mind. The walk is marked without needing to get the pack should any of you want to do it. It was raining continually for the first part of the walk making the ground hard going for Alice. She lost her wellies a few times in the thick oozy mud. This wasn’t much fun for her, so she went in the howdah. The walk took us on a pleasant circular walk of about a mile. Just right for a little one.

On the way there are the Highway Rat characters and a few things to look out for. By the end the rain had stopped and it started to cheer up.

After finding the rat we returned to the visitors centre for a hot drink and to refuel Alice. With the weather improving and Alice looking a bit more cheerful we headed out again to the steam railway. Along the edge of the lake runs a miniature steam railway. Currently the lakes banks are overflowing into the surrounding fields with the ducks and swans roaming over a larger pool.

As well as being Julia Donaldson mad, Alice is also mad for Thomas the Tank engine at the moment. She was very excited to see the train dragging us to get on.

The train trip takes about twenty minutes with a stop off at the station at the other end. On the platform is a small cafe and a train shop. We treat Alice to a new Thomas toy, a rainbow Thomas. Alice has been over the moon with her Thomas refusing to part with him at bedtime, sleeping clutched on to it.

The park has a great play area split into different age appropriate areas. She adored the playhouse and slide.

The digging area was great fun. If we let her she’d have stayed there indefinitely.

However we wanted to find the Gruffalo, so on we went. She was excited to find the Gruffalo and the Gruffalo’s child pointing out the prickles and shouts of “nose” pointing to the wart.

Throughout the day I could hear plenty of bird song. Crows and other corvids weren’t put off by the weather. I spotted lots of tits: great, blue and long tailed. Then lots of robins.

Before we left we bought Alice two last treats with some money Granddad had given her for Easter; a stickman and a mouse. Almost all of Alice’s toys are second hand,from charity shops and facebook, so being on holiday we thought we’d treat her. Back at the house she played with her new toys.

A good amount of walking left her tired again.

A wonderful day! Every photo of Alice shows how much fun and enjoyment she got from the day. A great time was had.

Follow on twitter.

Six on Saturday 7.4.18

There isn’t a massive amount blooming in the garden at the moment. Lots of buds are ready to unfurl. Bulbs are coming up, but not much flowering. So this week I’m going to focus on some of my provisions for wildlife. One of my aims with the garden was to do my part to contribute to conservation by providing as many homes for nature. I’ve tried to manage the garden to give a variety of habitats and food sources to many types of wildlife. The photos are from across the year. I don’t have foxgloves in flower quite yet.

Birds

For the birds I leave out a variety of food. I use several fat block and ball feeders. These don’t need replacing as often, so ensure the birds have a supply at all times. If you feed the birds during Winter and Spring you need to ensure you leave constant supplies. Otherwise birds waste energy on visiting your garden for no reward.

The seed feeders are the most popular, although recently the wind has made refilling them hard.

The bird baths give a water supply. Around me we have quite a number of fresh water supplies, so mine don’t get used that much by birds, but the insect life in Summer do settle on them.

Hedgehogs

For the hedgehogs I ensure they can move between gardens with a hedgehog hole. Just a small hole in the fence allows hedgehogs to roam. They cover good distances in a night.

I have hedgehog homes for hibernation and stop offs. One is used as a feeding station with weight on the top to stop cats getting the food.

Bug hotel

I built a bug hotel when we first moved in from decking squares and bricks. This has twigs and straw to give bugs shelter.

I have a few fence mounted houses. These mainly attract spiders rather than any of there intended visitors, but it’s all adding to the diversity in the garden.

Frog homes

Frogs need shaded wet patches. I have one bought shelter and then other home made. A broken pot or half buried pot can give shelter to frogs. Next door has a pond, while I don’t, we still get lots of frogs in the garden. I was keen to encourage frogs to help keep the slug numbers down.

Log pile

The log pile provides home to many forms of life. It encourages beetles, earwigs and other predators that will act as biological control of slugs and snails.

img_20161009_120454

The lawn

The lawn can be a bit of a desert to wildlife if kept really short. I have a couple of patches I leave longer. Several butterfly species lay eggs on longer grass. The frogs and insects use it as passages to stay safer.

Further advice

The RSPB has lots of advice for helping wildlife in our garden with the home for nature plans.

The Wildlfe Trust and RHS teamed up to offer advice in their project wild about gardens.

For book advice Chris Baines companion to wildlife gardening is an excellent source of inspiration.

Follow me on twitter for more gardening and wildlife.

My garden wildlife gives me lots of joy. Below are a number of visitors from the last year and a half since moving in. I hope you’ve enjoyed my six. What do you like seeing in your garden?

mouse