Wild spring flowers

It’s lovely to walk around the garden on a warm sunny spring day looking at the wildflowers popping up from under the trees and hedges.


Celandines carpet the ponds edge, opening their vibrant yellow flowers to the sun.  Delicate pastel blue flowers of forget-me-nots pop up in patches under blossom trees.  Wild garlic hiding at the bottom of the garden by the wildlife log pile, has just burst into pretty white flowers, and the smell of garlic fills the nostrils as I walk past.  Dead nettles clump together in parts of the garden that are untouched and forgotten about.
Violets hug the ground almost hiding their delicate blue flowers under the hedge whilst comfrey stands up right in the sunshine showing off pastel pink flowers.


And lets not forget the dandelions and daisies that scatter the lawn like little rays of sunshine.  I’m not sure why some people don’t like them in their lawn as I think they are happy little flowers and bring much needed nectar and pollen to early pollinators.  I think its lovely to see wildflowers in the garden as they add a sprinkling of magic to the garden and are so beneficial to wildlife.  I certainly don’t want a boring uniform bowling green lawn.  Give me a lawn with patches of moss, clover, dandelions, daisies and fairy mushroom rings any day.

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Spring Equinox

After 2 weeks of none stop rain, wind and even some hail, I have finally ventured out in to the garden once more.

That isn’t to say I haven’t been gardening or surrounded by nature.  I have used the recent bad weather to start sowing seeds indoors and I have also been watching the birds on the feeders from my window.

It’s the equinox today and it’s a lovely sunny day at last.  The spring flowers look beautiful, daffodils nod their heads in the gentle breeze and large flowers are starting to bloom on the camellia.  After all this rain and now sunshine, things will quickly start to grow and the garden will seems to grow in the blink of an eye.

It is nice to think that the sun will start to get higher in the sky as the days get longer and days become warmer.

It’s lovely to see new green growth in the hedges once again and tiny buds appearing on the shrubs. All the vibrant coloured flowers such as violas, primulas and daisies enticing the early bees and other pollinator to the garden.  I also saw my first butterfly fluttering about today, a wasp,and  a little green leaf beetle

The bird feeders have been a hive of activity too, with squabbling blue tits and goldfinches.  Rooks have also been in the garden gathering twigs for their nest and they have also realised how to open the top off the nut feeder to take the peanuts out of it easier.  I even notice that empty snail shells scatter the flower borders showing the song thrush has been taking care of the garden pests for me.

It’s been a lovely equinox and hopefully the weather will stay nice for a while so I can get stuck into some serious springtime gardening.

I hope you all had a lovely day too wherever you where and whatever you were doing.

A bee hunt

Last year when I took part in the big garden bee count the lavenders were all out in flower but even though the bees absolutely favourite flower isn’t quite out yet, there are still lots of bee friendly flowers for them to get lots of nectar from.

The exquisite scent of the mock orange (Philidelphius) flowers waffs about the garden enticing the bees with it’s scent that smells like pear drop sweets.  

Geraniums, campanula and million bells also entice the bees and other insects.  

Wildflowers such as; red campion, horehound and foxglove are always a big favourite with the bees. Their absolute favourite at the moment is the cotonester bush they pries the little tight flower buds open to reach in and grab the yummy nectar and carder bees have even got their nest right next to it for convenience.

Its lovely to sit and watch the bees busily buzzing about the garden.  I’ve tried to follow them as they dart quickly from flower to flower but it’s so hard to keep up with them; and even harder to capture them on camera.  It’s truly amazing how quickly they move about the flowers.

An hours bee count for today

Common carder bee  19

wool carder bee  1

Shrill carder bee  5

Brown carder bee  5

Red mason bee  1

Willoughby leafcutter bee  3

Red tailed bumble bee  2

Garden bumble bee  1

Buff tailed bumble bee  2

I may do another bee count at the end of June when more flowers are out but to be honest I don’t need much of an excuse to follow bees around the garden.

Mowing the lawn Day 11 of 30 Days Wild

There was actually some sunshine today so we decided to make the most of a dry day and mow the grass. I say “We” but I’m not the one who mows the grass, I am the helper. My job is an important one though. 

Before the mower comes out of the shed it is my job to walk around the garden. I pick up fallen branches, food dishes and move benches out of the way. 

More importantly I make sure there is no wildlife about that might get hurt. I make sure all the hedgehogs are tucked up in bed away from harm. I check that there are no frogs, toads or newts making their way to the pond. I keep my eye out for any fledglings hiding under the trees and I search for any tired bees resting in the grass. 

I normally scoop any bees up on a large leaf and put them somewhere sheltered and out of the way with a drop of sugar water to help them regain their strength. The fledglings I leave along and just keep my eye on them, as they normally hop along to somewhere safe anyway.

It’s really important to check on the wildlife in your garden before you use a mower or strimmer. It only takes a moment of your time but it can save a little life or prevent a nasty injury. 

Many hedgehog rescues treat and care for poor little hedgehogs that have horrific injuries caused by garden machinery; so please be careful next time you do any mowing, hedge cutting and strimming, as you never know what creatures could be visiting your garden at the time.

The “Sol Monath” garden

From the warmth of a cosy room behind a window, the garden looks dead and uninviting at this time of year. But for all those that brave the cold wet February weather will know that the garden is anything but barren and lifeless.
The garden in February sees the start of new life sprouting from the ground and to the Celts indicated a time for new beginnings. February gets its name from the Roman festival of purification called “Februa” but I have heard that there is also an Old English name “Sol Monath.” This means “Mud month” which I think describes the month perfectly.
In the garden at the moment, it’s cold and damp, and the faint sun can be seen hanging low in the sky behind the silhouette of tree branches. At a quick glance the garden doesn’t seem that inviting but as I look around I see signs of life popping up around me.
Bright green moss and beautiful fungi are cheering up the damp areas of the garden, and fresh cyclamen leaves are emerging from under the trees. bountqplrvp.jpg.jpg

Delicate bright green shoots are popping up from the lawn as daffodil bulbs start to awaken, and vibrant crocuses start to bloom.img_20170211_173215.jpg2017-02-12-15-25-16-048.jpg

Hellebore flower heads are just poking up from the ground adding pastel shades to the garden;2017-02-12-15-23-54-419.jpg

whilst primroses and dwarf iris also add a zing of colour.img_20170110_174308.jpg20170211_133736.jpg

I have even seen some weeds starting to appear in the bare soil, a sign that I need to wrap up warm and get out there to do some weeding.

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Snowdrops have got to be my all-time favourite plant in the garden at this time of year as they symbolise the end of a dreary barren winter and the new beginnings of bright joyful spring.img_20170131_172848.jpg

Their lovely bell shaped flowers weigh heavy with raindrops and they are a beautiful sight to see. It won’t be long till the snowdrops can be divided. Just after they have flowered and the leaves are still green is the best time to divide the bulbs into smaller clumps and plant them elsewhere in the garden. I love dividing plants such as snowdrops and primroses as it is like nature’s free gift to me for all the hard work I do in the garden.

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Later on in the day, as I walk around the garden I notice a mole hill that has suddenly appeared in the lawn and there are several blackbirds polishing off some windfall apples under a tree. The tree branches are covered in beautiful lichen, and delicate catkins dangling from the hazel tree are also a lovely feature at this time of year.  It’s lovely to watch them swaying gently on the breeze, waiting ready to drift their pollen into the wind as they seek out a catkin of the opposite sex.img_20170208_174024.jpg

And as I head indoors and the sun sets on the garden, the feathery plumes of the grasses (which have been left for winter interest) are baked in a beautiful warm copper glow.

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Life is anything but dull in the garden in the month of February.

Big Garden Birdwatch

I’ve been looking forward to the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch since I got my pack through the post in early January.  I had it all planned out in my head of how the day was going to unfold and as the weekend drew closer I excitedly got my spotting scope, binoculars, camera, notepad and pen out ready.

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Unfortunately, the weather had other plans and it decided that this was the weekend it was going to be cold and raining.  To top it all off, I also fell ill with a cold.  Luckily this year RSPB have added an extra date, so I had my fingers crossed for Monday.

Well… Monday has come and I’m thankfully feeling much better today, and as I opened the curtains to a dull and damp morning, I wasn’t going to let anything stop me counting those garden birds.

I set up my spotting scope in the corner of the garden where I was well hidden and could see a number of the feeders.  As I was setting up I saw a cheeky magpie eyeing up the suet feeder in one of the trees, but then it saw me and flew off.

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At 10.30am with wooly hat, gloves and downy jacket, I sat down and waited for the birds to appear.

I could hear the birds tweeting away but it took a good 10 minutes before they started to appear in view.  The first to venture out was 2 blackbirds, followed by blue tits and great tits.  It was hard to keep an eye on all the feeders at once, so I decided to concentrate on one feeder at a time.  I have noticed that certain birds stick to certain parts of the garden, so I first watched the sparrow feeders.  They were so quick darting from the feeder to the hedge and back but I managed to count a group of 8 jostling for room on 2 feeders.
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I then turned my attention to one of the finch feeders hanging from a rowan tree. I was delighted to see chaffinches and green finches on the feeder and a wood pigeon sat in the tree.

From my view point I could just make out a bird table towards the front of the garden. Here there were rooks, jackdaws, pigeons, and a seagull.

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As I moved my spotting scope around so that I could see the back part of the garden, I caught a glimpse of a little wren hopping along the fence and a robin singing merrily sat on a branch of the hobnut tree.

At the next feeder I was busy watching the blue tits, great tits and even a cute coal tit.  Then excitingly I saw 5 long tailed tits fly into the garden and land in an apple tree, before moving to the peanut feeder.

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I even saw a jay on the compost heap in the garden, but I had to stay very still as they are easily spooked……but then it went very quiet.   All the birds disappeared and you could have heard a pin drop.

But why?…

…..Then whoosh…out from one of the fruit trees a sparrow hawk came flying past me like a fighter jet plane.  It was amazing to feel the energy as it flew past, though it was so quick it was almost a blur.

Of course, that was the end of my Big Garden Birdwatch after only 40 minutes; as although I could hear the chattering of birds from the hedges, none would venture out again till they felt safe.

 

Winters wildlife garden

I’ve finally got round to writing my first blog of the year. (Better late than never)  I have been busy with various things since my last blog, most of which have been boring mundane stuff but, one of them was writing my first ever wildlife article for a newsletter.  The article was called ‘Wildlife On Your Doorstep’ and was for the Cheshire Environmental Records Centre newsletter.  I had so much fun writing it and hope those that read the article enjoyed it.

(Here is my Wildlife On Your Doorstep article.)

 

Here’s what else I have been doing in the garden since then…….

At the weekend I decided I would have a bit of a tidy up in the garden and my tasks for the day were to make sure the ponds, bird baths and feeders had a good clean.

The ponds are situated in the orchard so had collected many leaves but I had to tread carefully as I noticed bulbs poking out from the leaf litter and grass.  (My job for next weekend is to put canes in the ground where the bulbs are coming up so as not to step on them)

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I gently and carefully started to scoop the leaves out of the pond a bit at a time making sure I put any debris by the pond just incase any pond life was hidden there.  Whilst scooping out the leaves I saw a number of water slaters and pond snails.

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I didn’t tidy up the sides of one of the ponds as it is a newt breeding pond and they lay lots of eggs amongst the vegetation there.

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As I scooped the leaves out of the other pond I found a large frog hiding at the bottom.  I swiftly apologised for disturbing it, put it back in the water and gently topped up the pond using water from the near-by water butt.

Next on my to-do list was to give the feeders and bird baths a real good clean; so out come the washing up gloves, scrubbing brush and disinfectant.  There are about 7-8 bird baths and many feeders in the garden so it took a good while to clean them all thoroughly.  There was a blue tit, blackbird, robin and little wren watching me as I walked around the garden with a watering can filling up their baths.

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Before I went inside I cut some apples in half and placed them around the garden. Blackbirds, squirrels and foxes absolutely love eating them at this time of year.

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Here are some things that you can do in your garden at this time of year.

Put feed out for the birds and clean their baths.

Make sure you check that ponds and bird baths don’t freeze over.

Put bird boxes up in the garden.

Give the pond a little tidy ready for Spring.

Listen out for woodpeckers, watch out for those beautiful waxwings and look out for those bulbs just poking up from the frosty ground.

and lastly….make yourself warm and cosy, have a nice hot drink and start planning what you’ll be planting in the garden come Spring.