Kindle seems to of decided that this is a good month for gardening books. There are three RHS books on offer currently.
RHS gardening for mindfulness
A book encouraging you to slow down and appreciate the garden.
RHS small garden handbook
While my garden isn’t tiny I still like to hear advice for small spaces. Were working out what to do with the patio area, so may get some useful tips here.
RHS big ideas:small spaces
Again this may give me some ideas for the patio. It looks like a rockery planter on the cover. Having planted a few alpines recently to please Amy I think she’d like something like that.
The last recommendation isn’t RHS. Margery Fish-cottage gardens. Coincidentally Margery Fish was discussed on Gardner’s World this week. My mixed border and mix of self seeders would be approved of by Margery. I have a number of her favourites growing. From a few wild flowers on the walls, foxgloves and hollyhocks to the geraniums. I think this book will be well suited to my haphazard mix.
Today is just a short update as Alice is ill with a fever, so only managed a few wild acts at work. It has been a baking hot day today, so I decided to take my lunch outside in the outdoor classroom rather than the stuffy staff room.
I did a bit of weeding with the kids in the garden area. The weeds and potatoes have come back strong after the holiday. So we got some dug out and some seeds put down and compost scattered over. We’ve got some night scented stock, poached egg plants and alyssum. The night scented stock and alyssum are good for insects, so hopefully draw in some more life.
We got Alice to sleep despite her fever, but, expecting a bumpy night with her waking up several times.
Having written a Haiku about blackbirds for day 9 they seem like a good choice for today’s focus. Blackbirds are one of the UKs commonest garden birds. In my last garden, in a more urban environment, blackbirds and pigeons were pretty much my only visitors initially. They are the bird I associate most with gardens, although they are happy in all habitats across the UK except the highest peaks.
Turdus merula, one of the few Latin names I remember is badly named really. The majority of blackbirds are not black. For a start females are brown. Then fledglings are also brown with a brown beak. As they reach maturity males turn black and the beak yellow. The change can act as a trigger for more aggressive behaviour towards them from other male blackbirds as they fight over territory.
Their mellow song is rather beautiful and one of the easier birds songs to recognise. From hearing the song you can often then locate them. As I’ve observed blackbirds I’ve come to recognise several regulars through their white patches. Albinoism is common in blackbirds. They each have their own distinct likeable personalities.
Blackbirds like a diet of worms, so favour ground feeders, but will eat from hanging feeders. Any time I’ve been digging in the garden the blackbirds will turn up. Population had declined from the 70s, possibly due to loss of hedgerows, but more recently their numbers have risen putting them out of the amber list and back on green. If you want to help blackbirds like open nest boxes. During dry weather worms stay hidden away, so don’t forget to help out and feed the birds.
Having updated on the school garden yesterday I thought I’d update on my own garden as a few flowers have come into bloom. Last year entering the 30 days of wild we were living in our previous house. The garden was nice, but we were surrounded by paved over gardens and little wildlife of any sort came in. The new house is surrounded by other gardens containing trees and flowers bringing a greater biodiversity. The big garden birdwatch saw double figures of species. The newly relaunched Great British Bee Hunt is seeing a greater variety of bees in my garden. I’ve made good steps towards making the garden welcoming to wildlife.
In the last few days the first cornflower has bloomed.
I have the fist daisy flowering in the border amongst the forget me nots. I believe it’s camomile, although I do have oxeye daisies as well. I’ve already seen a few butterflies coming down to settle on it. Just one flowering daisy already making the difference.
The foxgloves are set to flower. I love foxgloves, so I’m keen to get them established and then hopefully they’ll reseed. Great for the bees and very pretty at he back of the border. Mine have been chewed a lot, but I’ve tried to remain spray free to encourage all life.
The lavender has come back strong. I cut it back a lot at he end of Autumn as advised and it’s flowering well this year.
My alliums are looking good. I’ve seen quite a bit of alliums over the last week on the Chelsea Flower Show coverage. There clearly a bit of a trend at the moment. Mine I believe are Turkish onion.
The first of the roses to flower has done so spectacularly. It was a bit limp last year, but after a harsh pruning it has come back surrounding the butterfly house beautifully.
So this year I’ll be starting the 30 days wild with my own little wildlife space looking much stronger than last year. Only a few days to go until the big month. I managed one wild act every day last year. I’ll have to see if I do as well this year.
A bit more progress was made with my F2 (reception year) outdoor area. We have several unused planters scattered around. The one we’ve worked on today has largely been used for an assault course with them enjoying climbing over this one. While I appreciate the benefit of climbing we have a wealth of areas they can climb and few areas with flowering plants.
With the children’s help this has been dug over. They’ve enjoyed breaking up the hard earth with the forks. Then we added a layer of new compost and then a few plug plants. The forget me nots have a good flowering period and hopefully will reseed naturally. Then we’ve erected canes to discourage the climbing over.
The planter could do with a lick of paint to tidy it up. But its a nice little step towards encouraging insect life and improving the feel of outside. I’ve talked more, with the kids, about what the plants need to thrive. They will be involved in the maintance which will help build their knowledge of biology. Just a quick job, but it improves the feel of the area, that it’s cared for.
Just a quick plug for the RHS and the super work they are doing promoting gardening in school.
You can sign up at: https://schoolgardening.rhs.org.uk/home
Through registering you get a welcome pack of advice and chances to gain more rewards. There are competitions to give your school gardening a target or focus. There are useful guides for identifying flowers, pollinators, parts of mini-beasts. Lots of useful resources for teachers.
My new units garden area is a mess of weeds in the planters and strawberry plants growing on the path. So my first step is going to be clearing. My outdoor job for next week isn’t a gardening job. I want to put some mini-beast identification sheets up around the bug hotel. I’ve found a few children digging around it and want to extend it further. As little effort as a of w posters and magnifying glasses will be I reckon it will draw a lot of children back in to investigate. We have a lack of evidence for the world and some mini-beast hunting and gardening will help build up our evidence.
Friday was my birthday. I got a few new additions to the garden. My parents had visited Thursday and had helped dig over one of the last sections of the border that I hadn’t touched since moving in. It was looking much neater for that.
They bought me a hebe. I’ve already seen a few bees starting to scout it out. I got it planted in next to the apple tree.
I spent a bit of time Saturday digging out near the shed. I’ve removed one of the spikier bushes and put in some ferns in the shade. I like ferns leaves. Interesting architecturally leaf shapes and interesting in terms of adaptation.They are replacing some of the leaf cover for the birds I removed and help stop some of the dandelions coming back.
I was also bought a camellia (Dr. King) for my birthday, which I’ve placed the other side of the apple tree. This gives this border a few more evergreen plants as it was a bit bare this Winter. So it’ll be nice to have a bit more green through the year and as most are late flowering it may give some colour late on.
A few bedding plants (primula, saxifraga).
I also put in some further bulbs and seeds. Some Dahlia’s near the camellia and some gladioli and lupin near the hebe. Start to get a bit of colour into the newly dug over border. The daffodils both in the pots on the patio and in the border at the bottom of the garden are getting past their best now, but have added some cheer. Hopefully by next year have a few more Spring flowering plants going. The bluebells came up, but won’t be until next year they flower.
Today we got out for a walk along the seafront and met up with one of Amy’s sisters who has just moved to live in Hornsea. We took her and the nieces back to their house by the old railway path.
Lovely sunny day today. There were plenty of birds back and forth across the path.
The local honey seller was restocked. We bought some Yorkshire heather honey.
I capture my first butterfly shot of the year. A small tortoiseshell.
The blossom is looking particularly nice in the sun. Evie was telling me how she had been blossom hunting at school, which was nice to hear about.
The roast dinner is now in the oven and I can sit back and watch the blackbirds enjoying the worms dug up by my gardening.
I’ve had a bit of time in the garden today and yesterday. Yesterday I started work on cutting back the climbing rose covering the shed. The shed needs re-felting so sadly it needed cutting back. It was lovely in bloom last Summer, but a good number of years of neglect has led to it getting out of hand. It was preventing me from getting to the shed roof and was destroying the fence. So sadly made the decision to cut it right back. The pollen beetles loved it, so will have to look at planting something else to make up for it. Looks a bit empty now.
Today I’ve had my mum and one of the nephews helping dig over the flower bed I’ve not touched much yet. The other flower bed has been dug over and barked and is starting to take shape. The over is still a bit of a wilderness. While I want a wildlife friendly garden, in its current state it isn’t providing much variety for species. So once it’s dug over I can look at planting a greater variety of flowers to attract in ore diversity. But the soil is rich in worms, centipedes and earwigs, so doing something right.So far I’ve planted quite a lot the bees like, so would like to look at some more butterfly friendly flowers.
While my mum and nephew worked on that I’ve repositioned some of the flowers I’d put in to put them in height order. My mum has given me some pansies which I’ve put in at the front. Of no great value to wildlife, but adds a bit of colour at a glum time of year. So put those in front of the viburnum.
Along the back I’ve added two variety of foxgloves and a hollyhock, both good for bees. Then I’ve put in some gladioli bulbs to grow up the fence. Hopefully come Summer have a better variety of colours. Last year it was very pink with the hydrangeas, so I’d like a few other colours. My mum had bought me a lupin, which I’ve placed just in front as the shorter growing plant.
So got one border coming along nicely. Gradually plugging all the spaces. The hydrangeas are trimmed back, the clematis are set to add some cover to the fence. Hopefully all be looking good come Summer.
The first crocus are flowering at the back. I’m thinking I should of grouped them more, but maybe next year.
Yesterday was the first day of the half term holiday for me. I took Alice out for a good walk and could really see the change in the seasons starting to happen. Through the park patches of snowdrops are starting to flower.
It was nice going through the park. It’s starting to warm up. More dog walkers were out, a couple of families out, and some kids climbing in a thicket of trees and bushes, using it as their hidey hole.
I took the long route round which takes me past one of several blue plaques in Hornsea. This one on the white cottage is dedicated to TE Lawrence. I like to think he enjoyed his time in Hornsea and found some peace.
Within my own garden the daffodils closest the house and warmth are looking set to flower. The ones down at the bottom of the garden have a little longer to go.
Throughout our walk Alice was chatting happily. Any other baby would of drifted off for their afternoon nap, but not Alice. She sat in the pram chatting and giggling the whole journey. You would have thought the sound of the sea, the rolling of the pram would make her droop off, but no happy as Larry. Thought she’d be grumpy til bed time with over tiredness but she was alright.
The woodland trust are currently pushing the need to plant trees. The UK has one of the lowest tree covers in Europe. Our woodlands have been diminished. With most gardens small people don’t want large trees. Many people are turning their gardens into fake outdoors with fake grass, so trees are diminished. The woodland trust are looking to reverse the trend planting 64 million trees by 2020. They are offering free seed packs for: rowan, dog rose, alder buckthorn and holly.
The selection of what is sent to you is random, so until it starts growing won’t know for sure what I’ve got. I don’t really have space for a rowan tree, so if I find I’ve got one of the larger species it may need planting at school or elsewhere. All the selected trees offer good benefits to wildlife with significance for caterpillars and birds particularly.
Having had the free Kew Gardens wildlife seed pack last year that is now starting to grow I quite like these random surprise packs. It’s a nice idea but the various organisations offering them to help wildlife.