A brief glimpse of sunshine

It’s been pouring down with rain all day and a tad bit chilly for this time of year but yesterday there was a glimpse of sunshine.  Even though the sun shone through a break in the cloud for just a short time, it was still long enough for a variety of tiny creatures to take advantage of its warmth.

I saw a hoverfly cleaning itself sat on a celandine leaf by the edge of the pond. IMG_15mwhq.jpg

Speckled wood, orange tip and blue butterflies fluttered about the ivy hedge.

A plume moth had a rest and got some much needed warmth from the wall. IMG_z8izg.jpg

Red mason bees swarmed around one of the small bee hotels.  Males pushing each other away as they rushed to find a female.  I was happy to sit close by and watch these bees for a while as they are not aggressive and now and again one would land on me for a rest.  Once a female had been found he knocked her to the floor where they seemed to mate for quite some considerable time.

You can see a short video I took of the bees here.

There were a  variety of spring bees buzzing about enjoying the blossom and other garden flowers. It just shows how important early wildflowers and spring blossom is to these early emerging bees.

Finally as the sun disappeared behind a cloud and it started to rain, it all went quiet again in the garden. Tiny garden spiderlings that were about to disperse in the sunshine, suddenly decided they would wait for another day and huddled back together for warmth. IMG_-oth2zk.jpg

The tiny creatures I saw moments ago where now tucked up somewhere dry and warm leaving the slugs to enjoy the rain.img_20170601_201853_815.jpg

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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.

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.

A rainy gardening day

All the miserable cold rainy weather last week gave me a good excuse to start sowing some seeds.  I cleared the greenhouse and windowsills got out my propagator and seedling trays and opened up my tin of seeds.  I love routing through my tin of seeds wondering which ones to start sowing first.  This year I have bought some specific seeds especially for my garden wildlife.

First to be sown was birds foot trefoil and red clover.  I was amazed how quickly they have both grown this week and it looks like I’ll have to transplant them before the end of the week. These lovely little plants will be grown in any bare patches of soil around the garden and especially near my bug/bee hotels.

I have also sown some agastache and echinops to attracts bees and other beneficial insects too.

Around the lawn and cracks in the pavement I’m going to grow creeping thyme as well as patches of chamomile lawn.  These tiny seeds will be sown straight in the garden when it gets a bit warmer but I’m also starting a few of the seeds off in trays first to give them a better chance especially against the slugs and pigeons.

Finally for the moths and other night time pollinator I have sown some night scented stock.  It so lovely to come out into the garden at dusk and watch as the moths dance about them and my honeysuckle enjoying their heavenly night time scent as much I do. 

If you want more information on the best plants to grow to attract bumblebee then check out the wildlife trust page here.

Of course I still have much more to sow and I have 2 trough planters ready to sow some wildflower seeds in as well.  Hopefully the bees, hoverflies, butterflies moths and other pollinators will benefit greatly from these plants and they will hopefully be a welcome addition to my wildlife garden.

Garden birds

I didn’t write a blog yesterday as I was so busy with gardening, diy and job hunting.  At least I got to still spend some time outdoors though and enjoy the flowers.

Today I had a relaxing day in the garden and watched the birds.  I bought a nyjer seed feeder on Monday and already have a pair of goldfinches visiting it.  I feel so sorry for the wildlife at the moment as everywhere is so dry due to lack of rain.  I always have water dishes and bird baths out for them and they are being well used at the moment.  I have also noticed how tame birds are becoming.  I have had birds a foot away from me and not be bothered by me and some even come to me when they want more suet pellets putting on the feeder tray.sparrows

It’s amazing how many different birds visit a bird table in just half an hour. I even captures some footage of birds on the bird table here.

In just 30 mins I saw blackbirds and a song thrush under the shrubs scratting for grubs and worms and a little gold crest and wren flittering between the branches . On the fat feeder I saw a rook, young squabbling starlings, a magpie and some sparrows.  Blue tit, coal tit and great tit fledglings tweet loudly from the climbing honeysuckle waiting to be fed, sometimes fluttering to the ground clumsily because they’ve missed their perch. 10530952_10204577539542327_2874282285086763644_n

It doesn’t take long for birds to find food and water in the garden and they really need both at the moment, with their growing families to feed and the hot weather causing worms to go deeper into the earth and puddles to dry up.blackbird june16

Even if you can’t put a bird feeder in your garden it’s important to try and put a bowl of water out for them like in a plant pot saucer perhaps.  It will be a great help to the birds as not only can they cool down and have a bath in it but they can have a much needed drink too.fledgling sparrow

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.

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