30 Days Wild: Day 26-Simple pleasures in the park

Alice got a number of different ball games for her birthday but not really used them that much in the garden as Alice likes a run-up of the whole of the length of the garden before she places it on the sticky pad. So we headed to the park to get rid of some excess energy. With the warmer weather, the beach is now rammed with the fish and chip shops doing a roaring trade. Good for the town but not to nice for taking a small child out. It’s not the level of Bournemouth beach but it still feels a bit weird after a month with the beach to ourselves. I don’t begrudge them wanting to come but it would be nice if they took their litter. If they can carry it to the beach they can carry it off. But the park is still staying pretty quiet.

Alice preparing for self for a long run-up before placing it on my pad.

Football is a winner for lazy parenting as she never passes so I get a few minutes rest while she chases the ball.

And a bit of hide and seek.

Though the squirrels are much better at this game than us.

And a good bit of fun rolling down the slope. Simple pleasures.

There were lots of small tortoiseshell butterflies on the grass today and quite a few hoverflies.

We stopped for a snack under the trees and watched some of the wildlife. Alice still insists on using her binoculars the wrong way round but I think this is because she hasn’t got the idea of the focussing.

We are starting to see dragonflies again and lots of the small blue damselflies.

Alice has found a new den spot after the other one was knocked down. As this one is largely tree it hopefully will survive.

A nice stroll out to get some of her energy out of her system. A few wildlife sightings and she came back home happier if a little hot.

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30 Days Wild: Day 25-Princess Poppy saves the bees

Today I left a surprise for Alice to find by the front door.

I’ve been meaning to get Alice this book for a while as she has a number of the Princess Poppy picture books. I’d seen Janey Louise Jones had written several Poppy stories with an environmental theme to them and 30 Days Wild seems like a perfect time to get hold of one of them for her.

The book tells the story of how Princess Poppy learns about the disappearance of the bees. It explains a few differences between honey bees and bumblebees. Then it goes into detail of a few things the girls in the story can do to help. The girls arrange to dress as bees for the Summer fair to let people know how they could help bees. It’s an ideal story for using in schools to teach a few basic facts about bees or introduce a science topic. or as a story to enjoy with a child at home. Alice sat and listened well and had lots of interesting questions and observations as we went through it.

One of the suggestions of how to help is to make a bee bath. A shallow tray of water can give thirsty insects a spot to drink without drowning. Then a few stones ensure they have places they can crawl in if they get stuck.

We set it up on the bench near the borage where lots of the bees are visiting.

Then Alice went looking for bees and trying to snap them.

Amy has borrowed one of the more high powered cameras from school to see how much of a difference it makes to the photos having something higher spec. It really did improve the quality of what we could achieve but we can’t afford a swisher camera yet, so just enjoy for a few days.

My camera is a Nikon D3100 which is a decade old. I can manage reasonable photos but nothing too impressive.

And a photo to make Princess Poppy smile.

And a few taken on the fancier camera.

A hoverfly on the lychnis.

Alice went on to tell Amy different bits she’s learnt from the book and she was telling me the bees in the park were bumblebees. And she asked for her new book at bedtime. There is another environmental-themed Poppy story on ‘no plastic‘. We normally do a beach clean as part of our 30 Days Wild. However, with lockdown, we haven’t been going to the beach as much. At the start of lockdown, there wasn’t any rubbish with few visitors whereas now there is a mass of rubbish. But we don’t Alice touching things handled by other people so we’ll have to leave this activity until it’s a bit safer. For now, we’ll concentrate on making our garden a paradise for wildlife.

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30 Days Wild: Day 23-Bird feast

Today for 30 days wild I thought we’d help the birds. A lot of the focus this year has been led by Alice which has led to a lot of time on butterflies and ladybirds but I fancied a change today.

We set up some log cuts on the lawn as plates and then Alice pretended to make meals for them. So we’ve got a plate of ‘sausages and chips’ and a plate of ‘cakes’ for pudding.

She didn’t have the patience to wait today and see what was going to visit. So off she went to dance around.

I had saved some of the Bishop’s Children tubers I grew from seed last year and these have been the first of the larger dahlias to flower. She was happy it had come out in her favourite colour.

The seagull chick has been looking pretty sorry for itself. The parents haven’t been feeding it. Local rescue centres aren’t equipped to deal with it. As one wing looked to be broken I was advised to get it to the vets to have it put down. The RPSCA took details to ring me back. It’s been attacked by some of the gulls and has a few patchy areas now that the flies are attracted to.

While I was waiting, the seagulls came to attack it again, so armed with gauntlets I moved it to safety. The RPSCA came along to collect it to take to the vets. I don’t hold out high hopes but at least they might be able to stop it suffering for longer.

And we got a few visitors after the chick drama for Alice’s feast.

Then taking a few plants round to the front garden later we spotted another seagull chick out of the nest in our neighbours front garden. This one looks in a better state so hopefully, the parents will look after it. So, it all starts again.

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30 Days Wild: Day 21-The Great British Creature count day 1

Over yesterday and today, it is the Great Yorkshire Creature Count. This has been arranged by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. Over 24 hours they are looking for people to watch the wildlife in their areas, snap it and record it. They are using the iNaturalist app. This is a simple to use app that allows you to log wildlife sightings and then they can be added to projects like the Great Yorkshire Creature Count to help different organisations carry out surveys. You can upload photos and it has options to help ID your sightings if you are unsure of what you’ve seen.

Alice helped have a look through the garden and I added them to the App later.

Here a few of our sightings.

A red admiral butterfly. These are gradually coming out in bigger numbers.

The ladybirds are enjoying the aphid filled dahlia.

The poppies bringing in the bumblebees.

We didn’t have much time for spotting yesterday but we have until dinnertime today. It’s a bit wetter so we might have some different sightings. See if we can find some of the many frogs hiding away in the garden currently. When I started in the garden I was keen to bring in a lot of wildlife and it’s good to see how much variety we are attracting in. We are doing something right.

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30 Days Wild: Day 20-Broomsticks

Following on from our magic days earlier in the week Alice had requested a broom for her beat baby cuddly toy to go with her wand. I did most of the construction today but once she’s been shown how to do something she’ll usually give it a go later in the week. So between downpours we managed a quick craft job in the garden. These are easy to make and you can make them on the go if you carry a bit string.

I collected up one thicker stick and a pile of thinner sticks and cut to the same length. I then wrapped it in florist wire to keep it secure.

Then to neaten it up and keep the look of a broom I wrapped it with twine.

Then the two of them went flying back and forth around the garden. She did lots of ‘flights’ jumping off the slide.

Then she helped out as the feeders were looking empty.

Though we moved off fast as we were looking to be swarmed.

I hope you enjoyed our simple craft for today. A good little bit of stick play for the imagination.

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30 Days Wild: Day 17-Wetland walk

Alice was very keen to go and feed the ducks today but the main Mere access is currently closed, so we went for a walk across the fields around the mere. Hornsea Mere is the largest natural freshwater lake in Yorkshire and is surrounded by grassland and patches of woodland.

We can’t get close enough to feed the ducks this way but there was plenty of other wildlife even on a dull day. The grassland and buttercups were filled with buttercups and moths. I think these were chimney-sweepers, a day-flying moth. Very similar to the small blue butterfly which I think were also out.

And a number of these brown beetles around.

Alice was eager to get ahead.

The dog roses in flower along the edge of the field.

We made it across several fields but plenty of snacks were needed along the way.

I spotted a few orchids along the edge of the path. I’m not certain on ID, possibly a marsh orchid but it’s not something I’ve spent much time on.

Then we stopped off on the way back along the old railway track.

Alice was keen to look for the fairy doors placed along there last year.

A nice walk out. The chimney sweeper moths are a new discovery along with the orchids so that was quite exciting. Alice asked if we can take mummy another day so hopefully, she enjoyed our stroll. I was a bit grumpy on the way back as the council and local busybodies are starting to tidy areas up now lockdown is being eased. Several areas of town have had the mowing reduced during the lockdown and they’ve been stunning. Filled with poppies, daisies, grasses, buttercups and the bees and butterflies have been loving it. All gone now. All spaces no one walked through so no need to be mowed. Even in the middle of a mass extinction, people want tidiness over beauty. So sad. I don’t know how many more years I’ll get to enjoy the Mere before it gets ruined but I hope it gets left for many years.

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Six on Saturday: 13.6.20-Soggy week

Well, it’s been a busy week of 30 Days Wild activities and a wet one. It has rained most of the week. So between rain and homeschooling, I’ve only really done a bit of weeding this week. The lilac needs a prune once the last flowers go over as it’s growing beyond its allotted space. I’ve started the process of pulling out the spring self-seeders. The forget-me-nots and aquilegias are coming out by the handful now. But the dahlias and verbena are almost ready to go in to replace them.

1. Purple clematis

This was established in the garden when I moved in but had got very leggy so I pruned it right back the year before last and it is doing much better. However, it is growing through the Clematis montana ‘Marjorie’ which doesn’t need pruning as often so I may face issues here. Just the one flower currently but a few more dotted around.

2. Goldfinches

The goldfinches have been visiting more often currently as they now have their young coming in with them. I want to encourage them so I’ve got some more sunflower seeds from Haith’s bird food. It was nice to see they’d got rid of their plastic packaging and it came delivered within a sturdy card bag. It’s done the job. As soon as I put it out I had several blue tits, the goldfinches, and a chaffinch in. I hadn’t seen the chaffinches in a while so that was a pleasant sight.

3. Lychnis coronaria

My lychnis started as one small plant and has since self-seeded around.  I like the furry silver leaves as it contrasts well against many of my favoured foliage plants and the hardy geraniums. The small flowers are as vibrant as anything in the garden but looking a bit sorry for themselves at the moment. They get a bit leggy and woody after a few years and look better for being pulled out and letting the new ones take over.

4 Pot combination

This pot combination has been together for a while now and is filling out nicely. The fern is Athyrium niponicum var. pictum metallic, the Japanese painted fern. The hosta lakeside is a small variety growing just 15cm or so. Then the black ophiopogon is evergreen and stays all year.

5. Yellow rose

This yellow rose grows up through the Choisya ternata. I’d quite like to take out the Choisya as it suffers too much during winter and spends the rest of the year recovering but I don’t think I can remove one and not the other. Choisya’s little white flowers are popular with bees. The yellow rose came with the garden. It shoots straight up for light out of the Choisya and forms bright orange flame buds. The roses bright yellow and fade to cream. While I probably wouldn’t have picked a yellow rose it is probably my favourite in the garden.

6. Charles DeMills

Charles DeMills was bought with vouchers I won a few years ago. It did a few flowers in its first year, none last year and looks to have a few more this year. It’s an old rose so I will only get the one burst of flowers each year, but they are rather grand. Large ruffles with a strange flat top.

The rain looks set to continue for a few more days over next week so I’m probably not going to get a mass chance to garden over the next week. But I’ve got a couple of garden books to read and try to get out in the few bursts I can. Don’t forget to check the Propagator’s guide to taking part in Six on Saturday if you fancy taking part and check his blog today to see more links on the comments. Enjoy your weekends.

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30 Days of Wild: Day 8-Den discovery

We started the day with another quick craft activity. We used polymer clay to make a few mini-beast.

We ended up with butterflies, a ladybird on a leaf, a snail and a flower.

Then wrapped up in waterproofs we headed out for our walk.

The seasons are visibly moving on with the elderflower out.

The conkers are forming.

In the park, the bees were placid after all the rain. A mass number were resting on the mallow.

And a few in the meadow area.

Alice was excited to be out with her umbrella again although she didn’t need it again.

A few more painted stones left around.

We made the discovery of a new den. Part of the trees have been cleared and they have been stacked into this rather nice den. A few additional routes seem to have been cut through the wood area. I’m not sure whether this was planned before lockdown or they felt this was needed.

Alice was excited with the discovery.

Though not so keen on Amy asking her for photos.

Though she showed no remorse.

Alice did eventually play along.

A good discovery, but I think we might have tears if we find anyone else in it.

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30 Days Wild: Day 6-Wildflower hunting

We’ve had the six on Saturday post for the day, now it’s time for our 30 days wild adventure for the day. We started off yesterday with a little bird watching while having an apple.

And we were treated to 3 goldfinches today.

We have been spotting lots of wildflowers while out on our walks so it seemed a good idea to make them the theme of this blog. I downloaded one of the plant ID guides and laminated it for trips out.

It was looking to be a wet day but we weren’t about to let them stop us get out. Waterproofs on. Alice has been desperate to take her umbrella out but since buying it the weather has been pretty good.

We found a few straight out of the door with herb Robert in the cracks of the walls and clover on the grass verges.

Ivy Leaved toadflax fills the stone walls along the park.

I mentioned the newly planted park trees were struggling in a previous blog. We’ve been watering them. They’ve had a bit of rain now but it’s still very dry. I took my hori-hori so I could clear some of the grass around them. On most young trees the fine water-absorbing tree roots can be found in the top six inches of soil so if they are competing with grassroots sharing the same space it decreases their chances of settling in. Can you spot the tree here?

I’ve given it a little clear to try and help. Even though it’s been raining I still took them some water as it’s drying out so quick it will still help. I just did the one as Alice is happy looking at the giraffe sculpture for a few minutes. I’ll gradually work along them. Some of them are still clearly doing alright so I’ll leave them for now. Advice suggests a ring cleared around a new tree of about 18 inches.

As it was looking like the rain would come down more heavily we had the park almost to ourselves except a few dog walkers. One of the advantages of wearing waterproofs and not minding rain. It also meant more of the birds were out and singing away.

Alice was able to get her umbrella up.

And I had a chance to photograph some soggy bees staying still sheltering on the buttercups.

Alice found a souvenir to bring home.

We enjoyed watching the pied wagtails while we sat and had a snack.

And Alice got a chance to enjoy the all-important activity of jumping in muddy puddles.

We collected a few wildflowers from the back of the garden to put in the flower press back home.

I quite like using tools like the flower press with Alice as they help teach patience. Something which doesn’t give instant gratification. Much like our garden efforts.

If you fancy learning more about the wildflowers around you check out https://www.plantlife.org.uk and Wildflower Hour. We found about half on the list which I think is reassuring for my locality on a fairly short walk.

After the exciting news of featuring on the wildlife trusts website we also found out Alice has won a prize from the HTA competitions during National Children’s Gardening Week. We don’t know what yet but hopefully it won’t be a lawnmower for her.

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Six on Saturday: 6.6.20-Roses and alliums

Well, this week has seen us busy with 30 days wild. We have spent a lot of time in the garden but not so much on gardening except the grow your own. But at the moment it’s nice just to enjoy the mass of flowers coming through. We have had a few good bursts of rain the last few days which is doing the garden a world of good. The water butts should be filling up and the veg patch is moving on from the combination of sun and rain.

1. Rose Paul’s Scarlet Climber

I planted two of these on opposite fences and they are now in their 3rd Summer. The aim was to train them out for the horizontal growth to encourage flowering. I think training is going fairly well. Plenty of flowers all along both with plenty more on the way. A little more training to get another layer along the top of the fence but we have a good number of flowers this year.

On the opposite fence, I’d planned for the combination of the white allium nigrums contrasting with the roses and so far so good.

It’s full of blooms with many more on the way.

2. Allium Nigrum

Here are the Allium nigrums in more detail. I grew a few last year and I liked them so much I’ve added more. They are a nice tall variety growing out of the mass of geraniums. The white is standing out well amongst the mass of greenery. I think I could go for even more of these next year.

3. Chives

The little patch of chives near the driftwood has been bringing in lots of bees. While I can harvest them as a herb and for an edible flower I don’t like to deprive the bees so they end up staying on. I might divide them this year as it’s getting to a good size patch now.

4. New lawnmower and strimmer

I won a new lawnmower courtesy of a Skinny Jeans Gardener competition, or more accurately Alice won a new lawnmower. She was meant to win a toy lawnmower but Flymo sent an actual one and a strimmer. She isn’t too bothered for it so I’m putting it to use. I already had a Flymo but as this one is a bit newer I thought I’d keep this one and I’ve given my old one away. It’s a little smaller than my old one but that makes it easier going over our uneven lawn. I’ve got it set to the highest level currently as that helps with the periods of drought, though we have had the rain this week I doubt will last.

And a strimmer for the lawn edging. I tend to cut parts of the border neat with the brick edging while a few areas I leave longer for the wildlife. It made short work of the edging nice and quick and useful for going around the raised veg bed.

Much neater.

5. Ox-eye daisies

The ox-eye daisies were one of the first flowers I grew from seed on the garden. They now self-seed all over the place. I let them flower, then either cut them back or pull them out. More will replace them. They are named again and again as one of the best for pollinators and always attract a wide range of insects with their easily accessible open flowers.

6. Marigold

The first of the marigolds have opened. A bit ahead of the rest. These self-seed around but I also gave Alice a lot of packs of seed this year that could be sown direct. She has been scattering these around and I look to be getting an abundance of marigolds this year.

The garden is looking great right now but I need to get on with the staking that as usual, I’ve been tardy over. All the wet weather with bursts of sun will have brought the weeds on so I need to try and give the garden a bit more attention. I’ve just completed another RHS assignment which frees up a bit of time. Enjoy your weekends. We’ve got a bit more 30 days fun planned.

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