Six on Saturday: 31.7.21 the wilderness

I have at times made reference to the wild area or the wilderness. This is a much grander title than the reality of this area. It is the path that leads behind the gardens on our street where our neighbours store their bins. It is covered in ivy from the houses behind, nettles, docks and creeping buttercups. Brambles crawl through, although they don’t get to flower much as I have to cut them back to keep a path for the wheelbarrow and neighbours for their bikes. It has a whole host of caterpillar plants with ivy and nettles being good for many moths and butterflies. So, on the whole I don’t tidy it much beyond keeping a functional path. But last year bind weed crept in so I made an effort to clear it as the odd seedling was coming into my garden. I’ve seen a few tufts of it back this year but I think I’m keeping on top of it so it doesn’t flower and set more seed. Having cleared part of it I looked to make the soil less fertile and suitable for certain wildflowers.

  1. The area

The neighbours keep their bins back here whereas I’m too lazy to wheel them round each time so they sit as an eye sore in the front garden. Beyond the bins is a good nettle patch which is harvested periodically for nettle fertiliser and left most of the time for wildlife. The other side was cleared of bindweed and currently is where I throw any pollinator friendly seed packs that come from charities, magazines, etc. Beyond is a wall of ivy across 4 gardens.

2. Poppies

The area has been filled with poppies of various types and colours. This pale pink has been the most numerous. It seems to be favoured by the hoverflies rather than the poppies within my garden which are swarming with bees.

3. Mallow

There are a few dark coloured mallows. I rather like this one. I wouldn’t be upset to have this in the main garden.

4. Cornflowers

Within the garden I’ve got a few different colours but in the wild patch it is just the blue. But it is a brilliant blue.

The bees are enjoying them and the birds will when they go to seed.

5. Teasel

I grew teasel in my garden a few years ago. I’ve not allowed it to return as it is took up a lot space. But it is very good for insects and then the seeds for birds. So I’m glad some of it escaped to the back path where it can grow out of my way.

6. Another poppy

This variety hasn’t been as numerous as the pink but it does stand out.

It’s a messy path but it is doing a lot of good for the biodiversity of the area. I need to cut the ivy back a bit further before the fence collapses. It isn’t really my job to do but if I didn’t we’d lose access to the garden this way. I hope you’ve enjoyed this weeks detour out of the garden. The end of this week has been made up of thunderstorms. A few things are flattened but it’ll bounce back. I hope your gardens are all holding up well and the flooding around the country hasn’t affected any of you too badly.

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Six on Saturday: 10.7.21

This week I have a poorly daughter. Her voice is just about gone and she is very sniffly. She’s in need of lots of cuddles. The garden, however, is in pretty good health. I have spotted vine weevils again. I have done a dose of nematodes recently to try and tackle them with more natural methods and squished the two I’ve found. But the plants they affect seem to still be growing strong. So hopefully keeping them in check currently.

Rose-Peter Pan

I bought this bare root last year as a reward for my first RHS exam results. It is a patio rose described as somewhere between a minature and a floribunda. If you look back at the starting point you can see it’s put on a good amount of growth in one year.

It is covered in small dark red flowers. I still haven’t got my sense of small back fully after covid but this is described as only having light scent. It is more of a visual feast.

And the obligatory raindrops on roses.

Astrantia Alba

I’ve discussed my love of astrantia before. They have pretty flowers, loved by bees, particularly honey bees and they flower over a long period. There is lots to like about them. This patch in the front garden has settled in well and has put on a lot of growth. The front garden is shaded with quite heavy clay soil which is a fairly goo situation for astrantia. They like moisture-retentive, humus-rich soil. They can be grown in sun if kept watered but I think are best for shade. This one is particulalry nice as the white flowers show better in shade. You can also see some of the foxgloves. They’ve been pretty crazy this year reaching great heights and flopping all over the place. We’ve had people knocking on the door to compliment them. I’m just getting started on sowing some more for next year as I haven’t had them self seed reliably.

And a bee enjoying the astrantia. There has rarely been a moment they have not had something visiting this week. Even with the heavy rain this week the foxgloves and astrantia have still seen plenty of bees. A testamant to how even a small front garden can be used to help wildlife.

Flesh fly/Allium forelock

I featured the allium last week but I took this photo on my phone and I was impressed with this little fy with its stylish black and white chequered patterning.

Agapanthus

I have been growing agapanthus for a few years now. They were bought as bare root stock and I knew it would take a little while for them to bulk out enough for a decent display. The last few years I’ve just had a single blue flower. There are two varieties in the pots polar ice and queen of the ocean. This year is looking more hopeful for seeing both varieties finally.

Scabiosa butterfly blue

We went to the garden centre last week to get some potting compost and I was taken in by this plant. Scabiosa are great for insects and the display was covered in butterflies. I couldn’t resist. We have lots of flowers that are great for bees but not as much for butterflies. So far, in my garden, it has only been visited by the bees that I’ve seen but the butterflies will come. With dead heading it should carry on producing flowers for a while. I’ve put it in a pot near the house as it likes free draining soil and I thought it would show better there than in the border.

Wall poppy

This is a self seeded poppy finding a home in the crack in the wall. But even a little flower like this is still helping the bees.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s six. I’m taking a lot of pleasure from the garden currently. There is a lot to enjoy and even the jobs of seed sowing and weeding have been pleasant. So far this week the “weeds” have included a dog rose I’ve potted up and a holly. Hope you are enjoying your gardens currently and have wonderful weekends.

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Six on Saturday: 5.6.21 hodge podge edition

This week’s six is coming from a few different gardens as it’s been half term and we’ve kept busy. I am taking part in the Wildlife Trust’s 30 days wild, though I am not blogging about it daily this year as it is quite time consuming and I have a lot coming up this month.

Wassand Hall

We made it to Wassand Hall on the bank holiday Monday. Wassand is probably our closest garden to visit. It’s just out of town with a short woodland walk and a small walled garden but they pack a lot in. They had set up a trail of small animal doors for kids to find on the woodland walk. Alice got a bag of sweeties at the cafe for her efforts so she was happy. We enjoyed a courgette cake and a bakewell slice. The gardens were at an odd inbetween season with some bits going over and other bits on the way. It’ll look great in a month or so. The hothouse is filled with amazing cannas and banana trees so the exotic section will be looking good again. The current star of the show was the irises. I picked up a few cheap from their plant sales and a couple of hardy geraniums.

Deer

We then walked out from the garden towards the mere. Were were tret to the sight of 2 deer running off to the long grass and managed a quick snap. I see them quite often locally but this is the closest photo I’ve managed yet.

White butterfly

Returning to my own garden we’ve had some sunshine this week bringing out the insects. Here we have the forget-me-nots being enjoyed. They’ve probably got another week or two until I pull them out and scatter the seed again. Amy’s teaching more photography next year so we’ve both been practising our skills more this week.

Damselfly

The damselflies have started to make their first appearances of the year in our garden. Hopefully the dragonflies will follow soon.

Alliums

We visited my parents later in the week. The alliums are doing well and a good few bees coming out to play. I rather like the contrast on this photo.

Robin

And the birds weren’t too bothered by us being there.

I have my first jab this afternoon so hopefully still have the use of my arm afterwards as got a few jobs to get done tomorrow before the return to work. Hope you are all keeping well.

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Six on Saturday: 15.5.21 bee week

This week with Alice we’ve been looking at bees with a bee themed play tray. So I thought for this week I’d take a look at some of our measures to help the bees. Educating Alice about the world around her feels like the best way to encourage her to grow up to care and respect all that we find in our world.

The play tray consisted of a tinker set from tots of fun. Then the large bee peg dolls I painted. The bee hive was a special purchase having sold off a few magic tricks I made a while back. She’s come up with some lovely stories over the week with it and enjoyed the open ended play taking it in different directions each day.

We got some wildflower seed with the tots of fun set and some bee bombs from Rowse honey. Alice helped plant them in her bee pot now her tulips have gone over. Didn’t really look at exactly what was in the mix but hopefully something will come up.

For my birthday I spent part of my birthday money on a Mason Bee tube. Mason bees are one of our more common solitary bees that are easy to help. These tubes are great. I wanted one that was easy to replace tubes as they are used and a set up easy to clean. Many marketed bee hotels are too short with tubes too wide or too narrow. Sometimes plastic encouraging damp. Basically most sold at garden centres to people with good intentions are rubbish encouraging disease and parasites. So I decided I just want one decent one rather than several that potentially harm the bees. They benefit from some maintenance each year which you can find on the mason bee website.

I also bought the new Dave Goulson book gardening for bumble bees. The garden jungle covered this subject briefly but good to know more. Dave’s books are easy to read but filled with research based facts. I like his focus on positive steps people can do to help wildlife. Looking forward to reading this one.

Within the garden we grew lots for wildlife. As a general rule less cultivated single flowers are better for pollinators. I provide a variety of open flowers and tubular flowers as different insects favour different flowers. This geranium phaeum has been very popular with the smaller garden bumble bees the last few weeks. It flowers well. Then I prune it back to the ground and usually manage 3 sometimes 4 bursts of flowers over a year.

The forget-me-nots are out in abundance currently. I let them spread all over the border. These are favoured by the honey bees. Here photographed by my wife. These self seed all over and then over plants come up through. Many of the alliums are coming through which are also great for bees. The single dahlias are very popular with both bees and butterflies. Planning for different flowers through the year keeps an interesting variety of visitors coming into the garden.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this brief look at bees. It’s Alice’s birthday tomorrow. She’ll be 5 years old and very excited. So lots to get on with. Enjoy your weekends.

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Six on Saturday: 3.4.21

The weather has been nice for the first week of the holiday though meant to be chiller next week. I have had to use the new blog editor so I have no idea what will show. You may just have to imagine six beautiful photos as I have no idea if it will work.

  1. Ladybird Loveliness I have been happy to see several ladybird in the garden. We had a lot of aphids last year with the veg patch so an army of ladybirds would be useful.

2. Sealing wax daffodil

This is one of the few daffodils I know the name of as it was Amy’s choice of the bulbs from the discount bin two years back. Almost all the other daffodils are cheap mixed bags.

3.Prunus incisa Kojo-no-mai

I moved the small prunus into the ground in autumn and it is looking grand. It is only about half a metre but every cm is covered in blossom. Should look spectacular as it grows. It grows to about 3m and should fill the space beautifully.

The bees are loving it anyway.

4. Narcissus Elka

I put these little daffs in the hanging pot back in autumn. They came as a cheap add onto another order but they are rather pretty in the pot.

5. Beefly

We have had quite a few of these visiting the garden. It’s a beefly. Not an actual bee, but a fly that disguises itself as a bee. They have the very distinctive long proboscis sticking out in front. A great wonder in the garden.

6. Robin

We’ve seen a good few different birds in the last week but I was happy to manage this photo of the robin mid song. It’s been back and forth from the feeder to the ivy so nice to get a shot.

Hope the photos have showed as I feel I got some good photos this week. Hope you’re all keeping well and enjoyed the slight relaxation of the Covid restrictions.

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12 Days Wild: Day 8-Happy New Year

Well, we have made it through 2020 and into a new year. I know for many this has been a difficult year but I have ended the year in a better state. My work-life balance is better. I work locally so get to walk and spend more time in nature rather than wasting much of my day on commute. So I’m happy to be moving onwards.

Just because it’s New Year’s Day doesn’t mean we get any extra sleep. Alice was up for her usual 6:30. I was generous and let Amy carry on sleeping. The birds have been very active in both the front and back garden enjoying the lack of humans while they nurse hangovers.

When Amy did emerge, I got out for a run. It was pretty horrible weather but it woke me up a bit getting out. I ran a little stretch of the old railway line through the wooded section. I’m using the couch to 5k app and it currently very gentle 90 seconds of walking followed by 60 seconds of running. But I want to ease back into it after a strain.

Then a short stretch of the seafront. It was busy today, even with the rain, with people coming out for the traditional New Year’s Day fish and chips.

Then headed out to run along the edge of the fields. I do like running along the bridle path but it will be off-limits for winter as most of the time it is underwater. But in spring and summer, it’s nice running along here startling the odd rabbit. But we are fortunate to have several natural environments we can run through. It’s very easy to get away from housing and into either more rural areas or along the coastal path. I ran while we lived in Hull but it wasn’t as enjoyable running through urban sprawl.

On the walk back home I kept an eye out for which wildflowers were in bloom ready for when we go to do our official count.

 

The rest of the day has been spent putting Christmas away. While the tree is pretty decorated the house feels bigger again for having it away and most of Alice’s new toys assigned to a place. The wetter weather has left the garden very squishy but I do have a few bulbs still to plant and I couldn’t do that while the ground was frozen.

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12 Days Wild: Day 7-New Year’s Eve

The day started very cold again. The back door was very stiff to slide open. But, it’s been nice sitting in the backroom and seeing the birds enjoy the extra bird feeders. They are obviously appreciating the food in the cold weather with large swarms coming in.

A good day to steal Amy’s macro lens for a few close up photos. I have a suspicion that all this frost is probably going to destroy the camellias emerging blooms but so it goes. I think it’s going to get dug out after its next round of flowers.

The colour of the Golden King holly almost concealed by frost.

It has stayed cool enough that the frost hasn’t really faded. We didn’t get out until after lunch and there was still lots of ice around. Alice wanted to go to the park to play hide and seek and look for more robins to show her robin toy.

Alice all wrapped up with her favourite new hat.

We did manage to find a robin over by the church wall. The wall here is covered in moss and ivy and you can usually find a good few birds hopping in and out of the cover.

Alice with her robin.

We spotted a squirrel which Alice told me is robin’s brother. It’s an interesting family tree.

I’m glad we are getting some decent sunny days before we head back to school. It is freezing but it’s still a tolerable temperature once we are wrapped up. But we are lucky to have numerous nice spots to walk out too. We will not be doing anything special for New Year’s Eve. Even if there weren’t restrictions in place New Year’s Eve isn’t much fun when you know you’ll still get woken up the same time as normal by a 4-year-old. So, normal bedtime for us. But I hope you all manage to welcome the New Year in safely and enjoy whatever you are up to.

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12 Days Wild: Day 6 late finish and early start

Last night was the last full moon of this year. A ‘cold moon’. The evening started very cloudy and it wasn’t looking very hopeful for taking a decent photograph so I played with shadows.

But about 15 minutes later the cloud cover had blown over and I got a clear shot. Well worth going out for a few minutes in the cold.

Then I had an early start with a run along the seafront. It was very cold this morning but the seafront paths don’t freeze as easily with the salt spray. The cold weather isn’t so much of an issue as you get up to heat quickly enough once running. The sunrise was stunning over Mappleton in the distance. I started running again during lockdown but I sprained my ankle when I got to the last week of couch to 5K so I left running while it recovered. I’m starting slow again.

And then at the end of my run over the fields at the other end of town.

Later on in the day, I took a little time to watch the bird feeders. I have set up the extra bird feeding station for winter. I put this up during the winter months the birds need it more. The rest of the year I just keep two feeder poles and a few extra in the trees.

Through the day I’ve had the reminder of why I don’t bother with these stations most of the year. They are shorter than the others so the seagulls attack them. They have shredded metal feeders in the past. They can become very destructive and it puts the other birds off.

But as the day has gone on I’ve seen a few other birds use it with tits and starlings visiting lots. The sparrows are pretty much a constant garden presence.

After the initial run it has been a peaceful day of resting and revising for my RHS exam. I’ve just about got all my revision notes in order and been recapping all the details. There is a lot to take in and I’m taking 2 exams next time so I don’t know that I’ll manage the commendation again. But we’ll see. Still a month to go before I sit it.

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12 Days of Wild: Day 5-Graveyard walk

Today I wanted to head out along Polly’s Path. It is a little path that leads alongside one of the town’s graveyards and it is one of the best spots for seeing birds. At this time of year, the mass of trees and hedges are filled with berries making it an irresistible lure for wildlife. It is, however, very boggy. I imagine the corpses decompose well as it spends a lot of time water-logged.

I wanted to give Alice a chance to use her camera and she wanted to take her new robin toy to see some more of its friends. Her backpack now fits more comfortably so she can take some of her own possessions.

On entering the graveyard we were met by a great variety of birds with blackbirds, tits, finches and pigeons staying close while several corvids flew off. Graveyards are often great spots for wildlife with badgers often making sets nearby.

Alice got to see plenty of the robins she wanted.

And a good few squirrels.

Her own camera isn’t quite up to scratch but it allows her to feel like she’s taking part in mine and Amy’s hobby.

Though she got a good selfie.

The graveyard leads through to the Transpennine Trail. It’s quite a while since I last took Alice down this way but it is a nice walk. The path is sunken down from the graveyard and surrounding fields making it feel quite calm and secluded.

This does come with the disadvantage that all the water runs down into it. A few more days of rain and it will be the Transpennine Canal. But, that does make for good splashing fun while Alice sang bear hunt.

The birds were equally evident along here with a mass of different songbirds enjoying the berries.

While we didn’t go a massive distance it still felt good to get out and see so many different birds. Most were common birds that visit our own garden but it was still nice to see so many and get out for a stroll. The wet conditions mean we didn’t have to fight through crowds which currently is a bit of a novelty around Hornsea with many people coming for the beach. Hope you’re all enjoying that strange half-life time between Christmas and New Year and managing some time enjoying whatever you like to do.

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Scampston Hall-Autumn

We have returned from a family trip out to Scampston Hall. Scampston has two great attractions. The grounds were designed by Capability Brown, the great landscape designer of the 18th century. Then the walled gardens contain the Dutch designer Piet Oudolf’s largest private commission in the UK. We had chosen to go there so we could meet up with my parents. It feels more comfortable meeting somewhere outside currently.

Scampston is free for one visit to RHS members, but only on Fridays. So far I’m not managing to get any free visits out of my membership. I visited Burnby too late in the year. Glad I’m paying student membership. I am enjoying the RHS magazine though which has been excellent.

We began with the walk around the grounds. There is a short walk through part of the grounds and woodland or a longer walk taking in more of the area. With Alice’s shorter legs we only did the shorter walk but it was a nice stretch taking in parts of the Capability Brown design. Alice was very keen to check the map each step of the way.

It took us through the rock garden which currently looks like it’s a work in progress. Several gunneras have been cut to the ground and the river was dry.

It took us down to the waterside and bridge-building.

Several swans and geese about.

Then we went through a stretch of trees with a pleasing trio of Acers.

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