Merry Christmas nature and garden lovers. I hope you are having, have had or are about to have a good Christmas day. This Festive period I am taking part in the Wildlife Trusts 7 days of wild Christmas. For many the festive season is a fairly depressing time. The days are dark and long, for some Christmas brings reminders of things lost. I find with each year I feel more and more distant from Christmas. I dislike the commercial excess of Christmas and the abundance of selfishness that many people develop as they sulk over receiving unwanted presents. The time I manage to engage with nature, gardening and getting outside helps relieve my spirits in this darker periods of the year.
But even for those who enjoy Christmas time engaging with nature can still bring much joy. The great benefit of much of what nature offers is that it is free. At a time people are getting wrapped up in the price tags and worrying they haven’t spent enough on someone nature offers a free burst of happiness.
I gain a lot of pleasure from the birds in the garden. Much wildlife comes into the garden just for the fruits on the trees. I do like to put out a bit more though to encourage more in. During these darker colder days it really helps birds to have easy access to extra food. It’s easy to forget to feed during the excitement of Christmas. But a few options will last a few days.
The suet tends to go fast. This feeder can be emptied in a day but it offers a good energy burst to the birds.
The fat balls last a few days meaning I don’t need to be out all the time replacing.
The same goes for the suet blocks.
The bird seed goes in a day but is one of the most popular feeders bringing in a great variety of birds.
Then from feeding regularly I get rewards like the ones in these photos. These were taken yesterday at my dad’s house where they also leave out plenty for the birds all year.
These charming goldfinch have been visiting regularly and that burst of gold and red is enough to bring joy to even the coldest winter hearts.
The starlings, while noisy, offer a great deal of beauty with the iridescence of their feather.
I hope you all enjoy your Christmas days and still find a bit of time out to appreciate nature. We have family time ahead now. Alice is at an age where she understands a bit more of what is going on. So I’m sure we’ll have a nice, if somewhat tiring, day.
After a wet Saturday last week, I managed to get out to plant some of the bulbs for next year. So this week will mainly be pictures of packages of what may potentially grow next year.
1. Bulb planter
I purchased a bulb planter. Like much of the nation I saw Monty Son planting his bulbs with ease using one and thought it would save time. I reckon bulb planters sales must have rocketed a few weeks ago when Gardeners World viewers watch Monty plant his bulbs with apparent ease. While not as good as his and the plugs of earth didn’t come out as smoothly as his, it did save time.
2. Mini daffodils
I’d mentioned to my mum wanting some smaller varieties of daffodils in the garden. She bought me two packs of these. I’ve spread them around the border. I have plenty of longer varieties in the ground from previous years, but having a few different heights spreads the season of interest. I should have some flowering earlier and some later. Last year depending on their position affected flowering times. The shadier corner taking longer.
3. Alliums-purple sensation
I already have some purple sensations dotted in the border. Some are now in areas of thick growth where they don’t show, so a few more in new spots will make sure these bee favourites are poking out.
4. Tulips-queen of the night
This year I planted tulips for the first time. I never liked the standard red variety that makes up bedding planting across the country, but I’m starting to find other varieties I think are actually attractive. In the main borders I had queen of the night and Little Red Riding Hood tulips giving a nice display of red and deep purple. The Little Red tulips were pleasant, but not as rich and Scarlett as the photos suggested on the packaging. I’ve topped up the queen of the nights.
I like alliums and have a few varieties in the ground. A couple were stopped by slugs and snails this year, so need to look at that next Spring. I liked the messy explosive nature of the photo on this one.
While I have more bulbs to go, six posts on photos of bulb packaging doesn’t seem that exciting. The teasel I’ve been growing has finally served its purpose. I grew it hoping to bring in the goldfinches. I have enjoyed the shape of the teasel sticking out a bit awkwardly in the border. The bees have loved it. But it was the goldfinches I wanted to bring in. Over the last week I’ve had little swarms of them delighting me. I haven’t managed a picture perfect shot yet as the sun has inconvinently been in the wrong position, but hopefullly see more of them.
Hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekends. I have more bulbs to try to find space for inbetween school work as well as picking up all the blown over pots.
As we move into frostier weather the garden is looking tattier leading to me questioning what I want planted and what I want to remove. I’ve been reading Christopher Lloyd’s-the well tempered garden giving me lots of food for thought. But today has seen a mass influx in bird life vindicating what I wanted the garden to do. I wanted to encourage wildlife into the garden and today has seen a massive variety on the feeder.
Having discussed previously keeping the feeders stocked for Winter I’ve been trying to keep my feeding station stocked with a variety of food. However as there are many hungry birds with the frozen ground the seed goes in day, even with two large seed feeders. The fat balls and suet blocks last a bit longer. However it is worth it for the spectacles I’ve seen today.
I have feeders spread over a feeding station and hung on the trees and shrubs. Some are in cover, some are more open to encourage different birds to feed.
The birds are clearly struggling for food at the moment as my bird count has hit 14 species just during this morning.
Notice, all plural, even the robins. The robins are normally territorial fighting other robins off, but clearly the need for food is trumping that instinct today. It’s a joy to see the goldfinches, which didn’t used to spend winter up North, but are gradually moving up. The birds were eating a mixture of the food provided and scavenging from the garden. It’s good to know what I’ve put in place has increased the variety on last year.
A couple of today’s visitors. With so many birds out this morning I haven’t wanted to go out and interrupt for photos and risk scaring them off. So not the finest photos I’ve taken.
Time will tell whether in another year I’ll have managed to entice any greater numbers into the garden. But either way 14 species is a clear indicator that putting food out makes a huge difference to what comes into the garden.
Today we celebrated my dad adding doctor to his name after several hard years of work researching Primitive Methodism. We’ve had a lovely afternoon in the garden. A few dabs of rain, but it’s largely stayed nice. Lots of family and friends came from across the country.
The brass band played a nice mix of tunes. I particularly enjoyed Ilkley Moor.
Aunty Pin and Uncle Bob added their dancing.
Alice found some partners in crime.
My dad with his tutor.
Alice had a nice day wandering the garden settling around on different people.
The goldfinches weren’t put off by all the people.
Alice was pleased with herself trying to lock everyone out.
It’s been a lovely afternoon seeing family and family friends we don’t see often enough. We’re all very proud of my dad’s hard work and it was nice to celebrate it. Even if he had been reluctant to do it.
Today has seen me sharing my wildlife passions. The morning has been the culmination of several months of hard work. I changed schools this term and took a promotion to become am EYFS coordinator. We’ve had local authority moderation looming over us. So we’ve had a frantic couple of months collecting evidence and teaching the children to the level we needed. This morning we had the moderation and it went really well. Everyone of our assessments were signed off by the LA. So this lunchtime I spent a bit of times enjoying the children’s company.
On the main playground where the kids go out at dinner there is a wildlife garden. There is a ponds and planters with wildlife attracting species of flowers: lavender, rosemary and nettles.
The kids currently are worm obsessed. Second in their interests are ladybirds. So at lunch I spent the time finding a ladybird larvae.
And found a good few pupae. Both larvae and pupae ate probably the invasive harlequin menace, but children have a fascination with naming and understanding these things.
Teaching natural history and the names of animals, birds and minibeasts has been shown to teach care for the environment. Then from this deeper empathy for other people. A useful lesson for a calm school.
Returning home my passion has rubbed off on my partner. She’s been taking photos while I’m out. This one stands out as pretty good and I like the subject matter too.
This is all part of what 30 days is all about though. Enjoying wildlife for your self is great, but getting more people to enjoy nature gives me an even greater joy.
Yesterday morning I spotted these beauties in and out of the garden. They seem to like the bushes behind the house and the which ivy. I’ve spotted them a few times, but they’ve been too quick for photos.
The goldfinch is quite distinctive with the red face and strip of gold along their backs. They can be found in the UK all year round, although some do migrate as far ad Spain. They are more common in Southern England, so a pleasant sight up North.
Their beaks are long adapted to getting seeds out of thistles and teasles. They will also eat insects. They are traditionally farmland birds, but have been becoming more common in farmland. Nyjer and sunflower seeds have enticed them out of farmland. They have suffered from disease in the last decade. So cleaning feeders can help.
So to entice in leave sunflower seeds and nyjer seeds in Winter especially. Growing teasel can attract goldfinch in. I planted some earlier in the year but they haven’t taken off. I’ve got some more seed as affording to the pack it’s not too late to grow.