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

Follow me on Twitter.

Six on Saturday: 23.3.19

Last weekend saw a good amount of rain so my gardening efforts were limited to moving a few self-seeders around the border and adding some extra foxgloves. I planted some Japanese Anemone but bare earth doesn’t make for an interesting six. I’m not feeling to well so don’t intend to do much beyond contemplating the front garden plans.

1. Daffodils

The daffodils flower in a ribbon across the garden over a few weeks with the sunnier borders flowering first and the shadier bench area flowering last. I’m not a massive fan of the daffodils but Amy likes them and they come up reliably with little to no effort on my part.

The first patch was planted in the first year and are pretty well established now.

I added a few patches of smaller varieties to the border too. Quite pretty but none of the fried egg variety I like have flowered yet.

2. Foxgloves

I have a few established patches of foxgloves, some grown from seed last year and some self-seeded in the border. However, I still don’t feel there are enough so I’ve added a few more. If I end up down near the florist/pet shop later I will probably get a few more. These two have been placed around the hollyhock with the lupins in front. Should be a good classic cottage garden combination. But again, it probably needs a third as these things work better in threes or more.

3. Forget me nots

As mentioned already, I have spent time moving some of the self-seeders around the border. Forget me nots form a carpet on one border so I moved a few to the opposite border. They were one of the first plants I added to the border when I moved in. Three small patches became a mass carpet but that’s how I like it. Every so often I rip large handfuls out and they return again to fill any spare gaps I leave.

4. Lilac

The lilac is a sold part of the background of the garden near the bench. It has leapt rapidly to life over the last few weeks with buds coming on quickly. Between the lilac and honeysuckle, this corner is one of the best for scent.

5. Muscari

Last year I planted muscari in pots and then moved into the border after flowering. I’d forgotten about these so it was a nice surprise to see one poking up. It is, however, the only one I’ve seen so we’ll see whether anymore appear.

6. Blossom

I’ve been unsure of what the red-leaved tree at the bottom of the garden is so I opened up the question on Twitter. The consensus was a prunus of some variety possibly black cherry. Either way, it has a handful of little blossom flowers that are rather stunning. Though not enough that I’m going to stop pruning it back each year as it could reach twenty feet. Though admiring the blossom all around it would be nice if we made as much fuss as the Japanese. Well worth celebrating.

Tomorrow is my birthday. So, next weeks six will hopefully be featuring new gardening gifts. Failing that if I haven’t received six gardening gifts I will have to gift myself the difference.

Check the guide to take part in six on Saturday.

Follow me on Twitter.

Six on Saturday: 23.2.19 Spring flowers from the in-laws

Last weekend we went to stay at the in-laws. Their garden always looks good and I always admire their seasonal interest. My own bulbs seem to be running behind everyone else’s schedules. I’m seeing irises flowering everywhere while mine is still coming up. It was nice to enjoy the variety in their garden.

1. Snowdrops

Dotted around the border are little pockets of snowdrops. I’ve placed patio pots in my border while the building work is going on and I have a suspicious feeling I’ve placed them in all the spots my snowdrops would have come back up. Nevermind between in-laws and Burton Agnes I’ve had lots of chances to still enjoy the purity of these little white delights. I’ll get mine back on track next year.

2. Irises

I’ve come to really love the vibrant colours of irises and the vein patterns of irises in the last few years. This is the first year I’ve added them to my own garden. The in-laws had two varieties in flower but I only seem to have photographed one variety.

3. Daffodils

I’m not a big fan of daffodils but they are an unavoidable herald of Spring. Amy likes them so I keep a few patches growing in my own garden. They fill a gap in seasonal interest and don’t really require any major care. I’ve seen more a shift towards the shorter early flowering varieties in other peoples gardens which I suppose means the stalks aren’t in the way as other flowers come up.

4. Hellebores

Spread around the borders there are a number of hellebores. A few are starting to look a bit past there best but some lovely colours on show. They were drawing in some of the bees emerging for the start of the year. I’m hoping my own self seed and spread some more though I think I’d like to add a darker variety into the genetic mix. They hybridise quite freely leading to some beautiful and not so beautiful combinations.

5. Crocus

The crocus were probably the stars of the show with some growing in the border and some growing in drifts through the lawn. They might only be little but their vibrancy attracts attention.

This little-isolated one particularly drew my attention.

6. Garden birds

When Amy moved to work in Indonesia she left behind two cats with her dad. Sadly one has recently died. This combined with extra feeders has brought lots of birds into the in-laws garden. Charms of goldfinches were flying in and out constantly. I don’t see as many finches in my own garden. Disease has hit chaffinches and greenfinches but I got to enjoy seeing lots last weekend. Here are a selection of the best photos though I took many more. I did consider doing six birds but having done quite a few bird posts around the Big Garden Birdwatch I thought I’d stick to more flowers.

Hopefully, my own garden may have woken up to Spring by next week for me to return to six from my own garden. Enjoy your weekends and good gardening.

Follow me on Twitter.

7 Days of Wild Christmas-Day 1 bird feeding

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.

Follow on Twitter.

An excited little girl

Dorset Holiday part 1

We have returned from a lovely week down in Dorset. One of Amy’s friends from her time working in Indonesia had offered us the use of her house while she was on holiday. This has worked out ideal as we then didn’t need to take bed guards and hundreds of toys for Alice as they were already there. That said, the car was still pretty full. Tiny peugeots are possibly not the best family holiday cars. This was the longest car journey we’ve taken Alice on at six hours. But she coped very well. We timed it well for her having a good nap on the way down and two stop offs. Only one section with a screaming child in the back. Alice enjoyed her service station stop offs. Everything is an adventure at her age.

The first proper day down we got ourselves in order with a trip to Aldi for food. We realised the weather forecast was rain for almost the whole week, so we stopped in sports direct and invested in waterproof trousers. This have been invaluable, keeping us dry, meaning we haven’t needed to worry sitting on wet benches or being splashed every time Alice launched herself  into a pudding.

Then a visit to Hengistbury Head where Amy’s friend was staying. Hengistbury Head is headland jutting out of the coast between Bournemouth and Mudeford. It has a variety of habitats including beach, heathland, grassland and shrub making it an area of scientific interest, a special area of conservation interest, a special protection area and an environmentally sensitive area. On a good day I imagine this is an amazingly bio diverse area with wonders to be seen. However the two days we visited were cold, windy and wet, so much of the wildlife was hidden away.

To get to the head you can go round on a land train or take a short ferry from Mudeford Quays. We opted for the ferry. Alice thought it was very exciting going on the ferry. It was her first time on a boat. There was lots of excited pointing at other boats and smiling at the other people on the ferry.

Along the headland are lovely little beach huts, some for renting.

We had a little amble along the headland with our host and her twins.

Alice loved jumping in every puddle on the way and searching for rocks.

While the wildlife was put off by the wind there was still plenty to interest me with shrubs and wildflowers for me to look up in my birthday present, the wildflower key.

We had a lovely time along the headland. I would love to return on a sunnier day. I expect we would have seen a lot of butterfly life more species of bird. Part two to follow, in which we see wild horses.

Six on a Saturday-24.3.18

Well it seems that Spring has arrived. On my journey to work the rabbits are back out along the wooded edges and the daffodils are coming out in greater numbers. Today is my birthday and the first day of the school holidays, so a day for relaxing. I’m continuing with the six on a Saturday garden blogs concept from the Propagator.

My first, as already mentioned, is my daffodils. I planted a number last year as Amy likes them. While I’m not massively found of them they do add a good splash of colour for Spring and I do like them as another herald of Spring arriving.

The next I think is a camellia. I’m not certain if it is a camellia or an azalea. It came with the garden and I’ve never tried looking it up to work it out. Either way I know it needs ericaceous compost. I gave it a surface layer in Autumn and gave it a liquid feed a few weeks back. This seems to have done it a world of good. A lot more flowers than last year. It’s suffered a bit with the frost, but for a few weeks I’ll get to enjoy the white blooms.

My windowsill propagator sensed Spring was here too. As shown last week my hollyhock seedlings and sweet peas are coming along well. However the morning glory seed were showing no sign of life. Then Monday one poke out, then a few more as the week went on and now were looking to have plenty on the go.

This will be my first year attempting morning glory. They came within another pack of climbers. In the UK it is grown as an annual as it is too tender for our climate. It is a climber with trumpet shaped flowers. The blue flowered varieties are the ones I’ve seen most often, but this pack has reds and oranges on. We’ll have to wait and see if I manage to keep them going to find out what colour they go.

Earlier in the week gold leaf gardening gloves were slightly reduced in the Amazon Spring sale. I’ve read about Gold Leaf gloves before. They are the only RHS approved gloves, recommended because of their durability combined with suppleness. I generally don’t wear gloves. I like the feel of soil and dislike the hindrance of not being able to feel what I’m doing properly. But I have a few plants which irritate to the touch and having planted new roses I want to try to take better care of them than the previous owners had. So, while they were on offer I thought I’d treat myself. While pricier than my previous sets I’ve ended up replacing the last few after short periods. We’ll see whether quality work out better. Having arrived they do feel as good as the reviews said. I’m sure in future I’ll give them a proper review when they’ve seen some wear and tear. The leather feels lovely in comparison to my previous rubber gauntlets I’d equipped myself with for roses.

In the last week I’ve finished the RHS botany for gardeners. This is on kindle sale this month for 99p. It was well worth the 99p. As it’s mainly text it was fine reading on kindle. Many gardening books don’t suit the kindle format, but this was good. It covered a wide range of subjects from Latin and taxonomy to cell structure and propagation.  It was an interesting read that I think I could reread in a year or two. It’s given me abetter understanding of why gardeners do jobs particular ways.

91A1OTUlcvL._SL1500_.jpg

And my final contribution of my six, my hebe cuttings. I’d started the cuttings just in water and they rooted. I had no idea whether they would. I had an inkling that they would and thought I’d experiment to see if I could cultivate another bush or two from cuttings. They seem to be doing well in the pots, but I think they might need moving to a bigger pot now. We’re going away in a weeks time, so I’d like to do it before then, so I can ensure they have a decent watering before we go.

As mentioned at the start of the blog it is feeling more Spring like and the rabbits are out and about. I’m aiming to manage a decent photo of a wild rabbit this year. I’m getting closer, but  still nothing amazing yet. Here is one from yesterday I’ll leave you with. Hope you’ve enjoyed my six. In a few weeks I think I’ll have a lot more in flower to comment on. Hope you’ve enjoyed my six.

Meadow in my garden-prize

Last month I won a twitter competition from meadow in my garden. Meadow in my garden are a family company with a passion for wild garden. Their main product range is a variety of different seed mixes to help provide wild flowers to benefit many of your garden visitors. From the pollinators through to the birds. They offer seeds for all situations, dry soil, rockery, tree foot, shade, shorter mixes. I rather fancy the planter and shorter mixes to use for a few pots in my front garden and the planters at school.

In addition to the seeds meadow in my garden also provide nest boxes, bird tables and some lovely looking garden sculptures. Through twitter I was fortunate to win a conservation nest box.

With the weather it has taken a few weeks to get it put up. The nest box has the option of being converted to an open nestbox or widening the hole for larger birds such as great tits and sparrows. The open nest box will suit robins and wagtails. I have an open nest box already and as I haven’t seen much of the robin recently I’ve left it with the smaller hole and closed front.

I’ve previously written about hanging nest boxes. It’s been placed in a sheltered position, with cover nearby and spots for newly hatched birds to get out onto. But there is still a clear flight path to the entrance. At the moment this patch of fence is quite bare, but I have a climbing rose freshly planted that will gradually rise up to give more cover on this patch of fence.

The conservation nest box matches nicely with one of the butterfly houses I already had up on this stretch of fence. It’s a good quality nest box, feels like a nice solid build. Advice on placing nest boxes advices to place them away from food sources. As I provide a lot of feeders this may mean the amount of activity in my garden may put off nesting, but I live in hope. The bluetits have been in and out of the garden lots enjoying the Haith’s suet pack I put out a few week back ready for the cold weather. The coconut feeder has been very popular having been scraped clean.

Thank you again to meadow in my garden for a wonderful prize give away.

Follow me on twitter.