Unruly hazel

There was a welcome break in the seemingly never ending rain today, so I was eager to get out into nature.

Todays job was to tackle hazel suckers.  They seem to be sprouting out everywhere around the base of this hazel tree. Unfortunately, not only can I not get to the tree but the suckers are smothering out any other plant life and they have become quite unruly.  Looking around I wondered where on earth to start, but I decided to just dive in their and start cutting.

Whilst cutting I was joined by a tame male blackbird who came to see what I was up to and probably to try and get any juicy insects from the exposed areas I was creating.  I also heard a great spotted woodpecker in a fruit tree very near by and squarking and squabbling from a group of magpies that landed for a moment on top of a conifer tree. 20190626_112714.jpg

Carefully I cut back the suckers.  I was aware that on some leaves there were ladybird larvae, flower bugs and sipders so each time I found them, I made sure I put them somewhere safe.  I also saw toads and frogs too, so I made sure that I looked where I was cutting especially near to the ground.

After a few hours I decided to call it a day, as the weather was getting muggy and I was starting to get nipped by mosquitos.  In just a few hours I was happy to see what a difference it made.  I found plants and bulbs that had been hidden from sunlight and uncovered a little pond with a frog staring up at me from the waters edge.

I love being out in nature listening to bird song and getting my hands dirty in the soil. It’s nice to be able to make a difference and hopefully now I have opened up the pond, other wildlife will now benefit from it and enjoy it as much as the little frog.

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Growing wildflowers

It’s day 3 of the 30 Days Wild challenge and the weather has been so lovely, I thought it was a great day for a spot of gardening.

I have been growing some wildflowers from seed in trays so now seemed like a good time to transplant them somewhere in the garden, but where??

I found a few empty plant pots that I had no plans for so I decided that the flowers would look nice in them dotted about the paving slabs along the garden path.

I have planted wildflowers in pots before and the bees and hoverflies loved them.  It just goes to show that you don’t need a big garden to have wildflowers, and pollinators appreciate them no matter how small a patch.

It will also be fun to see what flowers appear as I just put a mix of different seeds in trays and forgot what I’d sown.  I don’t mind though, as it’s fun to have a bit of mystery sometimes.

I can’t wait to see them grow and become beautiful flowers.  I’m sure the bees will love them as much as I will.

Tawny mining bee

Tawny mining bees are solitary spring bees covered in dense ginger hair.  You may see these little ginger bees busily flying about your garden or park in springtime.

Just like the happiness I get from seeing my first swallow of the year I also look forward to seeing my first tawny mining bee in spring.  I see them each year in the garden buzzing around the tree blossom and making their nest under the fruit trees.

As flowers on fruit trees such as pears, apples etc… start to appear the males are the first to be seen closely followed by the females.  The male differs slightly as his hair is less dense than the females and he has a tuft of white on his face.  The female is the only one with a stinger but she isn’t aggressive and you would have to go along way to provoke her.

The female prepares the nest which is like a tiny volcano shaped mound of soil with a hole in the middle in the lawn/ flower bed.  She lays her eggs underground and gathers nectar and pollen to place inside for her offspring to eat when they become larvae and the whole cycle begins again.

They are such important pollinators and it’s always a joy to see them buzzing about the garden.

While I was looking on the internet for a bit more information about this lovely little bee, I came across websites that showed you how to get rid of them from your lawn.  Why would you want to do that?!

I don’t want large frilly flower heads with no fragrance and no benefit to pollinators.  I don’t want a manicured bowling green lawn and a garden tidied to the last tiny speck.

I want to step out into a garden and feel at one with nature.  I embrace the moss, dandelions and daisies.  I welcome the tiny holes and tracks left by wildlife as it show how diverse, rich and healthy the garden is.

I do what I can to help my garden pollinators as they do such an important job and they need all the help they can get especially in springtime.

Next time you are out and about keep your eye out for any tiny mounds with a hole at the top, then stop and say hello to the little bees that made them.

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.

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.