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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Water in a plant pot

After filling my planters with wildflowers last year I realised that I had one small trough planter left.  I thought of all the beautiful plants I could put in it and was going to go to the local garden centre for more inspiration when I came up with another idea.

I decided that this planter was going to be a tiny pond, but I wasn’t sure how well it would work being only small.  Where would I put it,  should I keep it above ground or sink into the soil and would it attract any wildlife were several questions I asked myself.  I noticed a bare patch in the soil next to my heathers so I decided to dig a hole and sink it in the ground there.  It did look rather odd just plonked into the ground but after the trouble of digging a hole I decided it was staying there regardless.

After weeks of boring old water and nothing else I started to see birds standing on the edge and drinking the water, then I saw how it seemed to be attracting bees and hoverflies.  I then peered into the trough and saw it was teaming with little creatures wriggling about in the water, the most fascinating to watch were the red tailed maggots, (Hoverfly larvae) which I captured on video here

Early autumn last year I then saw a toad walking towards the pond, which was amazing to see.

Now spring is here, this tiny pond looks like it has always been here.  Bluebell leaves cascade over the waters edge and I have seen quite a few newts and baby toads near by too.

It may have started life as a flower planter but I’m so glad I put this little trough in the ground and made it into a pond. I can’t wait to see what wildlife it attract this year.

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.

An insect view of flowers

I love to sit and admire all the flowers in my garden and watch how much the insects love them too.  I love their beautiful colours, different textures and exquisite scents.  I sit and watch delicate flower heads nodding in the soft summer breeze and listen to the tall grasses rustling.  A tortoiseshell butterfly flutters upward as I brush past the lavender bushes, whilst bees buzz past me trying to capture the lavenders sweet nectar.  Hoverflies land on the wildflowers whilst trying to hang on as the breeze throws the long flower stems from side to side and tiny pollen beetles nestle securely deep inside the flowers stamen.

Sitting here, I wonder what these flowers look like to insects.  I sat down on the grass and looked closely at a daisy.  The many delicate white petals surrounding the intricate yellow flower head.  One daisy flower in the garden even has a red dot in its centre too.daisy petal

I decided that the only way I could get a closer look was to see what the flowers looked like under a microscope.  Luckily for me, I have a microscope attachment for my phone so I was able to instantly see the delicate structure of the flowers in-situ in the garden.

A yellow viola’s centre looks like its covered in white powder under the microscope.viola petal

A buttercup looks just as shiny and buttery close up and the stamens are large and protruding to entice pollinator in. buttercup petal

I always think hedge woundwort flowers looks like pretty little orchid flowers but they look even more stunning under a microscope.  It’s amazing to see all the tiny hairs on the flowers which makes it look furry close up.  You can see why it entices so many bees to its flower.horshound petal

Finally I took a microscopic photo of a geranium petal.  A close up photo shows the petal looks wrinkled with white hairs in its centre.  Under the microscope though, it looks a wonderful metallic colour full of minute dots.geranium petalI’m glad I took the time to have a closer look at flowers and it’s made me appreciate even more how they attract pollinators.  Next time you are in your garden why not stop and take a closer look at your flowers too, as you maybe surprised at what you find.

 

Gardening

It was a lovely day for doing some gardening.  There was a gentle breeze and the air felt fresh instead of feeling still and muggy like it’s been all week.  I planted some hanging basket with bright colourful flowers, put fresh water in the bird baths, weeded around the soft fruit bushes and copiced hazel.  p5250066.jpg

When I’d finished I sat down under the hobnut tree and had a refreshing cup of tea and well earned chocolate biscuit.  I watched robins and blackbirds hunt around the grass for worms, whilst blue tit and great tit fledglings fluttered clumsily through the tree branches pestering their parents for food.10530952_10204577539542327_2874282285086763644_nBees buzzed around the heavenly scented roses and mock orange flowers, whilst ladybird larvae crawled slowly about shrub leaves.20170606_124911.jpg

Cheeky squirrels nicked nuts from the bird feeder and speckled wood butterflies flutter about the hedge.squirrel1.jpg

I love being in the garden.  Even though there is always lots of work to do, I enjoy gardening as I bring not only pleasure to me but the wildlife appreciate it too.

Sowing wildflowers

A few weeks ago I sowed a variety of wildflower seeds in trays and today I decided to sow some more. 20180518_161144.jpg The little shoots of the first lot of seeds I sowed are already starting to poke through the soil and I can’t wait till they grow a bit bigger so I can then plant them in containers by my front steps.

20180531_141037.jpgThe wildflowers I have sown are:  a variety of poppy seed, chamomile, oxeye daisies, foxgloves, red campion, and mullein. (just to name a few)

I have also sown other flowers such as: night stocks, love-in-a-mist and corn flowers

A number of the plants will also be planted around the garden as well as in a wild garden patch I made.

I dug a wild patch last year and it self seeded this year with red campions, alkanet and foxgloves.20180519_140519.jpg

It doesn’t matter if you sow wild seed in your garden or a garden container, it wont take long for the bees, hoverflies and other insects to find them and they will enjoy them all summer.20170626_180620.jpg

The Spring garden

I love this time of year as all the vibrant coloured flower start to appear once more in the garden.  There is so much to do in the garden right now.  Everything has shot up with the glorious hot weather we have been having.  The grass needs mowing regularly and everything has needed a good watering each day.  There is weeding to be done, wildflowers seedlings to care for and of course more plants to buy and find spaces for.

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As I walk down the garden making a note of even more things that need doing I see oranges tips and beautiful blue butterflies flutter by me.

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I watch as bees and hoverflies busily buzz around the wildflowers and speckled wood butterflies dance in the sunshine by the nettles that grow at the back of the compost heap.

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The bees favourite plants in my garden right now are: aquilegia, cotoneaster, bleeding heart and the Californian lilac.  There are many more plants almost ready to burst into flower any day soon too such as: lupins, foxgloves, alliums and dwarf azaleas.  There is always something in the garden to keep the bees happy.

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As I sit for a while by the pond I watch frogs hop into the water with a big splash and as the suns rays hit the waters surface I can see tiny water daphnia and the flash of a newts tail.  At the ponds edge I see a spiderling dangle from its thread under a campion flower and a fly sits on a leaf that’s tumbled into the pond and has a quick wash.

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Looking over at the bird feeder I see starling fledglings squabbling around the suet feeder waiting to be fed by their exhausted parents while others splash about in the bird bath to cool off in heat.  Blackbirds hop along the ground in search of grubs and insects to take back to their nest, whilst a tiny gold crest darts by me quickly and is so small it looks like a tiny shadow out of the corner of my eye.

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Its too hot to do any work at the moment so think I’ll just sit here in the shade for a while and just admire the wildlife that seem to love my garden just as much as I do.

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If you want to here all about what the garden was like in early spring then check out my “Wildlife on the doorstep” article in the Cheshire biological records newsletter here or here