The beauty of life on one tree

Today I came across the news story of spikes being placed on a tree in Oxford. I figured straight away that this was probably done to stop bird poo on cars and after watching it saw I was right. This follows on from the story of Norfolk cliffs and hedges being covered in nets. While the bird poo is a pain, my car gets covered in seagull poo, it seems bizarre to cover the trees natural beauty and prevent wildlife using its natural resource.

Walking through the park today I stopped to admire the life on one tree. The weather was warm today but this tree was literally humming with activity. Blackbirds and sparrow were flying in and out the up story and a few butterflies were hovering around but too high up for photos.

The bees and hoverflies were swarming all over. I couldn’t track the numbers out today.

The ladybirds were out in force.

The understory providing space for more plants to grow.

The shade providing flowers with the conditions they need.

Who wouldn’t want to enjoy this beauty? The amount of life supported on one tree is amazing. Why would we think we can improve on nature? I’ll leave you with a quote from someone smarter than me.

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”

Albert Einstein

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Six on a Saturday-21.7.18

As a teacher I have now broken off for the Summer holiday. A chance to get out and enjoy the garden and get it back into order.

1. Cineraria

The cineraria is now in flower. I mainly grow this for the contrast of the silver foliage. It’s an evergreen so gives interest through the year. When it flowers it tends to spread out pretty untidily over the lawn, but the insects seem to like the small flowers.

2. Hollyhocks

The hollyhocks have finally flowered. The hot dry weather seems to have been perfect for them. The first to flower are a patch that self seeded from last years. These are the more traditional hollyhocks, but have some hollyhock carnival varieties still to flower.

3. Ophiopogon-black mondo

I have a few patches of black mondo growing in pots. It is starting to spread and hopefully can be divided at some point. While often referred to as black grass it isn’t actually a grass. Currently it is in flower with its small delicate white flowers stretching out from the leaves.

4. Verbena

I grow verbena bonariensis from seed this year and planted out a few weeks back. Last year this was still flowering in many gardens late on in Summer when a lot of other flowers were fading. The first flowers are opening. The dense spikes are ideal for butterflies. I’ve already seen the small whites coming onto these.

5. Borage

Down near the bench I allow a patch of borage to seed. Its star shaped flowers are loved by bees. It can become an untidy miss, but it keeps flowering for a good period and the bees love it. The flowers are edible and can be used as decoration on cakes or salads.

6. Succulent

For one of my end of year presents at work I got a succulent. Possibly some variety of aloe, but not really my area of expertise. I’ve brought it home for the holiday, then take it back in. I’ve been trying to add some more plants to the classroom for the kids to look after. I’ve also selected a number for the ability to improve air quality as my classroom can feel a bit stuffy. Then the positive effects of having greenery are well known.

So that’s my six for this week. The garden is full of life with the insects spoiled for choice. Enjoy your weekends. I will now be enjoying my break and getting the garden back in order after a couple of busy weeks of neglect.

Six on a Saturday 30.6.18

It’s a lovely day out. We’ve got a school Fair to go to. Then hoping to do a bit of weeding and then maybe get in a few of my seedlings.

1. Unknown rose

This rose came with the garden. After the first year I cut it back quite severely and have fed it better since and it is now giving an abundance of pink flowers. It repeats flower and last year was still flowering well into Autumn.

2. Charles de Mills

Charles de Mills was bought back in April. In its first year I’m not expecting much, but got a few flowers to get a taste of what will hopefully come in great numbers. The closely packed petals give an interesting slice off appearance. I don’t think there quite as nice when they fully open, but a good addition to the garden.

3. Poppies

I don’t remember planting poppies of this variety. I remember scattering the standard red variety, but not these. So either I’ve remembered wrong or got some self seeders. Either way they are very nice. A rich plum going well with the sweet peas and lynchnis. However in the heat the petals are not lasting long.

4. Obelisk

The obelisk of sweet peas is looking good. The sweet peas were looking a bit pasty, but after adding some slow release feed they are looking lusher. The peas are flowering well now with lots to come.

5. Hebe

The front garden has a line of hebes that have all probably grown past their best. However they ate low maintenance needing no watering most of the year. Ideal for the front garden. Some are flowering less, but one variety is still giving a burst of white flowers that the bees are all over.

6. Salad leaves

I had this plastic window trough spare. I used it last year for salad leaves to pick off. I thought I do the same. I don’t grow much edibles, but do like to have something each year to enjoy. These are a David Domoney mix I planted just a few weeks ago and taking off well. It contains a mix of two tender Italian leaves: lollo rossa and lollo bionda. It grows quickly then can be used as cut and grow again salad leaves. While it won’t provide a mass amount of salad it is nice to have a few home grown pleasures in Summer.

While the garden is still a random mix it is gradually taking shape with plants working in better combinations. The borders are filling out, so next year can start looking at how each plant works with its neighbours.

 

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Cabin fever

Today and the next couple of days we are having our hallway plastered. So the house is a little bit topsy turvy. So with little space for Alice to go back and forth we headed out for a walk to prevent cabin fever.

I discovered a new picnic area has been put together with a display showing what wildlife we might see

The spot overlooks part of the mere.

At the moment we have a scarecrow trail around town. At this new picnic spot I discovered one, an actual scary-crow scarecrow.

From there we walked around to the mere’s edge. The mere is a large body of fresh water. It has an abundance of bird life. Within the habitats available it attracts wetland, farm and sea birds. Even on a grey rainy day like today I still saw more variety than many trips to nature reserves.

There were lots of Canadian Geese.

I saw a good number of ducks. Some mallards and some I don’t know.

The jackdaws were hopping in and out of the other birds. As discussed before I like corvids and particularly jackdaws. I know some people consider them evil looking, but I rather like the blue eyes and apparent intelligence.

Alice thought the ducks and geese were hilarious, but they didn’t seem as keen on her.

We saw a number of types of gull. Springwatch released an article last week pointing out that there is no such thing as a seagull. So with that in mind here are black headed gulls and a herring gull.

Within the thistles and cow parsley goldfinches and pied wagtails flitted about. The goldfinch was slightly rude refusing to turn so I could take a photo of its better side.

The thistles were still seeing quite a few visitors despite the colder weather.

After the mere, we walked along the seafront home where we saw the lesser spotted sea pigeons.

Before heading home I gave Alice a quick run around outside the Floral Hall.

The Floral Hall is a community run venture with a cafe and hall. They put on live music, club nights, theatre shows and cinema nights. The flower displays are always lovely. The bug hotel they built this year is looking good and with plenty of teasel around it should see some visitors. Teasel is high on the list of flowers I would like to get growing in the garden next year. It is loved by pollinators and the birds will eat the seed heads.

Not a bad way to fill time staying away from the plastering in the house.

Bees in need

This week is bees needs week. The week is organised by DEFRA and a number of charities. It aims to raise awareness of the role of bees and other pollinators. Today I’ll discuss the aims of the week and a few things you can do to help and share some of my bee photos from the last year.

Bees are vital to gardeners to pollinate many flowers as well as significant to farmers to pollinate crops.

The week is pushing fiveĀ simple acts.

1: Grow more flowers, shrubs and trees. Having planted in more variety of shrubs, perennials and annuals this year I can see the difference in the number of bees in the garden. Amongst the bees favorites ate the foxgloves and the lavender. Bee and butterfly flower mixes are easy to buy these days. Once sown many will grow easily and self seed allowing the benefit continue. I grow some in my borders, but also in pots for easy management.


2: Let your garden grow wild.

There are a number of parts to this. Leaving grass in winter. Leaving pernial plants uncut gives hibernation shelters. Leaving a few wildflowers like dandelions of thistles gives pollinators there early source of pollen in the Spring. Nettles and brambles are important for many species to lay eggs on. Behind my garden there is a narrow path where nettles and brambles grow. I trim it back as little as possible, so I can still get the wheelbarrow down. This area is particularly good for moths between the thick ivy and nettles.

3: Cut grass less often. Most people don’t need an excuse to leave their lawns. But leaving grass to grow provides a number of species of butterfly good egg spots for caterpillars. Leaving grass after September gives bees nesting sites. With Alice I don’t really want the whole lawn long so I just have areas on the edge I leave to grow longer.

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4: Avoid disturbing nests. Many bees build underground nests in old mammal holes. Trees, walls and dead wood can also be nest sites. So again its about trying to leave them alone over Winter. Bee hotels can be bought or made for many solitary bees that nest above ground. While I haven’t had much luck with bees in mine they are filling with other life.


5: Think about whether to use pesticides. Many pesticides harm bees. Check labels and think carefully before buying. If you do use them try to avoid spraying flowering plants.

The wildlife trust had put out more information sheetsĀ here. Nothing very strenuous there, but will give you enjoyment of these vital, wonderful creatures.

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Brownfield

Behind the bus station is an area of brownfield land. I’m unsure what it was like in it’s previous incarnation. There are cement foundations and rubble around, but no clear signs. It has now been taken over by bindweed, nettles, brambles and other wildflowers. As I got home earlier with it being the last day of school, Amy and Alice had gone out, I went went out for a little explore. I have seen rabbits along one of the paths when out with Alice, but couldn’t take the pram down to explore. So I was hoping to see some more.

The area has had an awful lot dumped in it sadly. The site is littered with scrap metal and polystyrene.

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Despite that the site is a haven for wildlife, even on a grey day like today. The bees were out looking ethereal covered in the pollen of the thistles.

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It also provided me with my first sightings of comma butterflies this year. I haven’t seen any on my area. Now I’ve found a site they love. Eight spotted just on a short stretch. I’ve added my sightings to a the Big Butterfly Count along with one small white. It was exciting to see the flash of orange and realise it’s another species I was unaware of within my local area.

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The discovery of the comma’s was a nice discovery during the Big Butterfly Count, so even though I failed to see any rabbits the comma’s made up for it.

I’ve been busy of late, so I’m doing more quick twitter updates for anyone who uses it rather than full blogs. https://twitter.com/Jobasha to follow.

 

Bridleway exploring

In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.
John Muir

Yesterday had seen an unsettled night with Alice. She stubbornly refused to sleep on her own, so ended up resting on me until half 12. Then her morning nap was much the same. Thrashing and wailing all over the place. We don’t know if it’s teething, a reaction to the measles jab or something else and she doesn’t oblige by telling us. So I gave up on trying to put her down to take her out for some quiet time, pushing her around in the pram. Unlike many babies she doesn’t fall asleep that often in the pram. But I thought some time with her sat still might give her the rest she needed.

I head out round to the new housing estate. On the edge is a path taking you between what I think are wheat fields. The paths are pretty much only frequented by dog walkers.

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Along the edge of the path, in the wildflowers, I saw a number of ladybirds. Some were native I believe, rather than the usual harlequins I see.

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A lot of ringlets and red admiral butterflies criss crossed the verges.

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The slugs and snails have been out all over the last week with the heavy rain, but now it’s starting to dry out they are making a retreat.

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I took the footpath past the bunker. This path takes you through an overgrown area of brambles, bindweed, nettles and trees. It is a have for a whole variety of wildlife. Previously I discovered many robins and bluebells. On the walk up to it I passed a buddleja covered in red admirals.

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The bunker is apparently a favourite kids play spot, which is nice that it can now act as a hideout den.

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Around the bunker honeysuckle is starting to flower.

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While walking along this stretch one of the dog walkers recommended a bridleway a little further out of town. A bridleway, for those who are unsure, is defined a path for horses. Motor vehicles are not generally allowed access and they are not for the movement of livestock. Walkers can use them and cyclists, although cyclists are meant to give right of way to others. While cyclists are allowed to use them there is no local authority obligation to maintain them to be suitable for bikes. The path was not overly suitable for the pram and at times was hard going. It did however bounce Alice around enough to put her to sleep, which is what I was hoping would happen. I wouldn’t recommend it as a pram walk though, but I was lucky that the ground was dry and the grass at a length I could push through.

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The bridleway was a lovely route with fields either side, with house martins swooping over, butterflies, bees and hoverflies flitting along the edge. The path gently rolled upwards back to one of the roads out of Hornsea. I didn’t see another soul along the whole stretch.

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A hoverfly on the nettles.

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A small tortoiseshell.

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What I think is possibly a reed bunting. This is a new sighting to me to the area. I haven’t spent much time exploring the local farmland routes. As mentioned the pram is not really designed for this, but as Alice gets walking further we can get to know these paths better.

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Damselflies mating at the end of the path.

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On the way back home I spotted gull chicks venturing out of their nest on a roof.

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As Alice was still sleeping I took a little detour through the park to give her longer sleeping.

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I even spotted some mysterious activities going on at the town hall. They’ve possibly come to unmask local MP Graham Stuart.

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So Alice got a decent sleep in the end and I’ve found out about a new path and seen some new wildlife. A good trip out. I’ll finish with a photo of the hebe I got for my birthday. It’s flowering now and is a lovely colour. The bees are loving it.

Bee 4