30 days wild: day 18-dawn chorus and planting for wildlife

Today was an early start with Alice waking at half 3 and not going back down. So I heard the dawn chorus. Now the dawn chorus is normally regarded one of natures wonders. But today it was more a cacophony of chaos. Living by the sea the seagulls started as the opening act followed by jackdaws and pigeons.

It wasn’t for an hour or so until I started to hear more melodic tunes from the songbirds. But I did get through the gardeners world 50th anniversary. I’m glad Monty presents now and not Titsmarsh. He’s not my cup of tea. Then managed a few Springwatch unsprung episodes.

I worked on school work through the morning, then got out in the garden late afternoon. It was too hot earlier, but by the time I got out it had cooled off. I did some weeding. Cleared a bit of space around a fuscia and Hebe that were being drowned out by camomile. I’ve reported a few plants on the patio and had a general tidy. Then added a few more pots for wildlife with poached egg plant and night scented stock. Less inviting for wildlife I set up a planter with alpines Amy likes. Alice had her paddling pool out, but wasn’t bothered about going in. But feeling how cold it was I don’t blame her. She did have a dig in the earth though and pretended to water the plants with her watering can.

We both ticked off the wild act of feeling the grass between our toes. It was too hot for shoes and socks most of the day.

The insect life was spectacular today. With the sun out bees and dragonflies were out in abundance. I still don’t seem to have much that appeals to butterflies. So need to work on that.

 

Garden update

The garden is looking nice at the moment. A few issues with smaller plants behind bigger plants, but can look at that for next year.

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The rose campion has flowered. It will have little bursts of small pink flowers through Summer.

The foxgloves have finally come out. A bit behind others in the surrounded gardens. But better late than never. The hollyhock next to is also set to flower.

The roses are doing well.

 


The sweet peas in the hanging baskets are flowering nicely.

 


I have put more food out to attract in the finches.

 


There has been a good variety of birds in the last few days, so my efforts aren’t being wasted.

 

 

The wildlflowers in the border are bringing in the bees. The poppies in particular are seeing lots of visits.

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The garden centre had a lot of dehydrated lavender selling for the 99p. With a few days watering it’s already looking better. I think I’ll aim to nurse it back this year then add to the front garden next year. I have one patch already and it’s smelling great walking in.

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While a few things are dominating this year and my height order in the borders is a bit of a mess the wildlife coming in is much more varied than last year. So I feel my hard work over the last year, much of it started during last years 30 days, is starting to pay off. The garden is gradually becoming a better habitat for more species.

30 days of wild: Day 11-open gardens

Today started with catching up on the last Springwatch. Alice was a bit more interested today. She seemed to like the owls, but less interested in kestrels.

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Then after her nap we headed out. Today was open gardens in Hornsea. A handful of generous people opened their garden to the public for a donation to raise money for Marie Curie cancer charity. The first we visited was down by the mere was owned by an ex-teacher who now has a workshop making lovely sculptures. Some willow, some metal. Many were on display in her beautiful garden.

I particularly liked that they had made use of the field behind their house. They’d set up a seating area to look out onto a field of wilderness owned by the mere. I also like the pond adding to the biodiversity.

The second was just near one of Amy’s sisters. The back gardens are small courtyards overshadowed in part by their neighbors houses. To get to the house we went round the back alley. The couple who owned the house had moved up from Peterborough two years ago. In that time they’ve clearly put in a lot of work on the garden. Though a relatively small space they had worked wonders making a lovely hideaway. We stopped for tea and scones, which didn’t do any harm to the enjoyment of the garden either. Alice enjoyed digging in their slate path, picking and dropping the stone.

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The next garden was long and narrow with a slope and a little pond at the bottom. He said he’d just been in a year, so doing pretty well so far. I saw a good variety of bees: carder, white tails, miner and what I think were some solitary I didn’t know.

The next garden of over the memorial gardens. It had a decent sized front garden with a long patch of lavender at the front. There was also some interesting black plants, which I’m seeing around more recently.

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The back garden is on several tiers with a pond lower down and larger trees up the slope. The large size of the garden allowed large blocks of planting, which looks more impressive than what I can manage within my garden.

There was even an air raid shelter built by the French posted in Hornsea.

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The next garden had a lot of Buddhist and Chinese influences with statues and bonsai dotted around.

We didn’t notice on entry, but in the corner was a chicken coop.

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The next garden had lots planting for wildlife, bird feeders and insect homes. Alice enjoyed having a good explore. Lots of planting to my taste honeysuckle, lavender, clematis and foxgloves. Lots to attract in insects.

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It was getting late on, but one more garden owner kindly let us have a look around even though it was the end time. It was a massive expanse, with paths winding around the garden. The kids were very lucky with a tree house hidden away.

I spotted a number of speckled wood butterflies hidden up high and plenty of Bee activity all over.

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We didn’t make it around all the gardens as we had a late start after Alice’s nap. But the ones we did get round were spectacular. I’m grateful to the owners for opening up. Not only as it raised money for a good cause, but we also had a lovely afternoon pottering around. I think within my garden I need to look at larger clumps of the same flower for effect rather than all spread around. Then I need a better height progression in my borders. A very enjoyable afternoon and weekend.

Garden and school update

At work the TAs have been working hard to spruce up the outdoor area. There is an area with posts, which so far I’ve used for den building. Apart from that though it’s underused. They have set up a threading area encouraging gross and fine motor skills.

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They’ve given the allotment fence a lick of paint and added some number flowers to the fence. They won’t last for long outside, but might manage a few observations showing the children recognise numbers to 20.

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They discovered paint and have now brightened up the bench, so we now have a minion bench.

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It’s all little things, but it livens up the area a bit and hopefully allows staff and kids to take some pride in the area as we develop it.

My own garden is looking nice at the moment with lots of shades of lilac and pink coming out. Here are a few high lights.

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The roses last year were badly eaten, but theyve been cut back and have come back stronger for it. I’m not a fan of roses as I dislike gardening gloves, so get spiked lots. However I can appreciate a nice large bloom.

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Some of these he bulbs I planted last year have come into bloom. I’d forgotten what they were, but I’m assuming there some sort of allium. Lovely structure.

 

The rose campion is doing well. I had one in my last garden, last year, and liked the little pink flowers it produces, so bought another. The lavender from last year has come back stronger.

The bluebells near the shed are doing well. There adding a nice dash of colour I can see nicely as a patch of blue from the kitchen table. I’m trying to encourage a patch of native bluebells in the shade that will hopefully spread.

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Still spaces to fill and next year I’d like to have better seasonal coverage, but it’s getting better all the time.

Garden birds

Over the last few weeks the variety of birds in the garden had dropped off. The seagulls, pigeons and crows seemed to be scaring everything off. But the last few days it’s been getting busy again.

The pigeons and crows are still in regularly.

The collared doves have been checking in.

The starlings have been visiting on their rounds.

The blue tits and great tits are back, although only photographed the great tit.

A jackdaw visiting the feeder. The hood nice and clear seperating it from its crow cousin.

Alongside these I’ve seen song thrushes, robins, wrens and the usual blackbird. The only regular yet to return are the chaffinches. Hopefully see them again soon.

I also came across my copy of Matt Sewell’s-spotting and jotting guide. This delightful little book has Matt’s paintings of each bird and little witty descriptions. A handy little guide for watching your garden. Useful for keeping on a windowsill or Summer house.

National Gardening Week

This Easter weekend marks National Gardening Week. As its been the school holiday for me I’ve made some good steps forward with sorting out the garden. I’ve had a bit of help from parents over the week.

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My dad has been working on greening the lawn and it’s now looking a lot better for it. WhenI moved in last Summer it was a sea of dandelions. While I appreciate that dandelions make a great early food source for bees they aren’t nice to walk on. We also have a path behind the garden where I’ve left them to grow. There also appears to be some wild bluebells emerging.


Some of the flowers put in earlier in the year are doing well. The patch of forget me nots I planted in Autumn are doing well and a few have seeded in other spots.

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The foxgloves and hollyhocks are doing well. They got eaten to pieces initially but are now growing better.


These bulbs I planted in Autumn are shooting up. I can’t remember what they were, but lovely leaves. Be a nice surprise seeing what flowers.


My mum turned the apple tree after we cut it back to encourage shaping and growth. It had been a bit neglected but seems to be doing well now.

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We got in two varieties of rosemary and silver mist lavender in the back. With some gravel in the soil for drainage I’m hopeful they’ll take well. A few gardens along the street have good patches of rosemary and lavender, so hopefully do well. There good for both bees and butterflies, which I’d like to attract in. I’ve got quite a lot of plants for bees, but less for butterflies.

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My parents bought me two hardy fuschias which should look nice when flowering.

On the patio I’ve knocked out one of the unused stone wall planters. Now we’ve got the log burning stove fitted we want to turn this into a seating area and wood store.


The daffodils in the pots on the patio are up to dead heading point so looking to plant up a few other pots with some Summer flowers. I’ve got some night scented flowers recommended for moths and to attract bats. Some poppy seed has gone in the flowerbed.


The seed packet that came from grow wild had grown beyond its pot so my mum split them over the flowerbeds in the front and back garden. There is also some more lavender in the front garden.


The RHS guide to urban gardens was a kindle deal of the day earlier in the week so possibly get some more ideas for the patio there.

And I’ll finish with a few wildlife visitors over the last week.

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I’ve moved a bird feeder to the front garden which is seeing plenty of visitors.

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New beginnings

Yesterday was the last day in my current teaching job. I am moving on for a promotion to be a Foundation Stage coordinator at another school. I’m going to have a steep learning curve, but I’m looking forward to it. The unit has a super outdoor area, which I’m looking forward to developing further. I had a lovely send off. Lots of kind words were said and a selection of very generous presents. I will miss many of the staff and was sad to say bye, but moving onto exciting things.

A hamper filled with sweets and amazon vouchers. So I have enough sweets to keep me going through the stress of taking on a new job. Then between my birthday and these vouchers enough now to buy the camera lens I’ve had my eye on for a while. I haven’t felt I could justify it as a treat for myself, but six years of service at a school I think warrants a special treat. It’s a it’s a mid range telephoto lens that should hopefully allow me to get better close-ups of the wildlife I see out and about.

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They also bought me an enormous pork pie, which I started on today making an rather nice ploughman’s lunch.

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It is the first day of the holiday and the sun has come out for it. Alice has been eager to be out. We had a quick stroll out around town visiting the school where there was a craft fair on. I bought some tasty chutney to go with my pie. We had a wander down to the beach. It was looking rather spectacular today with no clouds to be seen.

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So with two weeks off I have a chance to sort out a few more things in the house. Want to look at clearing some junk. Sorting storage. Get a few things planted in the garden. Over the next week we are having a log burning stove fitted, so lots of dust for a few days. Should be worth it though to sit back in the warmth watching the flames in winter. Then in the second week we’ve got a trip planned on the North Yorkshire Moors railway. A stunning spot and one of my favourite areas to visit.

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