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Wow! Today I saw my first Greenfinch in absolutely ages a perfect specimin. Gorgeous green plumage and a fat belly could have been the female. She( I think) was scrubbing around in my front yard for worms and bits of insects which we have plenty of up here in Scotland. Mostly the devilish bitey type.
It was a treat and I love watching the different types of birds we get coming into the garden. I am busy planting at the momment different types of plants to attract butterflies and birds alike. So I am re designing an otherwise boring garden bit by bit. Plants being so costly.
I am looking at some cosmos seeds to fill in the gaps as the flowers are quite tall and apparently the wildlife like them too.
We do not have any hedgehogs here but do have bats and next door to me have a bat colony in their eves. We watch them from time to time at early evening going to and from their nesting site. As they are protected there is not a lot you can do about them.
The Wagtails are nesting for the second time in our woodshed and are busy making a very late nest.
Fasinating to watch these industrious little birds so busy all the time.
We get a collection of wrens, robins, blackbirds, thrushes, tits of all types and the coal tit is a frequent visitor most types of bunting and some woodpeckers although I am still trying to decide on the type. Quick little things can't get a good visual on them. We have also a nesting pair of Red Kites in the area and a couple of Buzzards too. Brilliant to watch in the summer when the sun is high in the sky.
There in mid June you will see the sky larks and swallows and swifts. So nice to see so many of the birds that I thought were quite rare now.
Still getting crows and the larger cousins the rooks but not too many.
It is therefore my task to provide these lovely birds with food for the winter which I do by my bird table if I can keep next doors cats away from them, and now I am planting happy collections of plants and shrubs for them to either nest in or pollenate.
The butterflies are a mix between a small blue and the red admiral and I have seen one or two painted ladies too. The odd cabbage white but not as many as I would have thought.
Wasps are always a problem of course enticed by the sweet smelling varieties of flower. So we have to watch for nests but apart from that things in the garden are coming along nicely.
My most recently bought collection of plants are Rosemary for herb garden as I already have thyme mint and lemon balm my marjaram died last year in the cold spell and so did the bay tree. Shame as I thought it was indistructable.
I have just planted dahlias, Convulvus, Antirhinums, or bunny ears as we called them as kids, a Nice Hollyhock and Lavateria, For height and large beautiful flowers, I have ground covering plants too of various sorts. A nice Yellow bush which was here when I moved in and a Hydranger, (sorry if some of the spelling is wrong.) Never was my strong point. lol
I want to get a few more shrubs that are not too invasive so if anyone has any ideas I am all ears.
My soil can be a little acidic so I have to keep feeding it with various things depending on the plants.
I am preparing an area for my sweet peas to climb up at present so they will give a nice aroma as I open my back door to them.
well back to work talk again soon.
I totally agree with the previous review written about Wildlife in the garden. It is a great way to make your Garden a little piece of Eden.
I fill my garden up with lots of bird feeders and keep them well stocked both in the Summer and the Winter times.
I have found that you can order almost everything on line to satify your needs in the garden. Technology is sometimes wonderful!
I order all my stuff from various websites like Anne Kennedy etc. The one I find the most impressive with same day delivery is www.simplybirdfood.co.uk you can pick up the phone and talk with Nigel or Sophie Blackburn. They are ever so helpful and I like to support small family owned companies like this.
Hope this review helps. Support local business I say.
I've read a few articles about wildlife gardening recently and decided to do a little research into how to make my own small garden more wildlife friendly. I've discovered that small changes can make a big difference. Here are a few of the tips I've picked up.
A WILD CORNER
Try letting an area of your garden grow wild. I have a patch of grass at the bottom of my garden which is left to do just this. To be honest it started because that patch of grass is on a slope which is a bit of a pain to get the lawn mower up, but now I've realised that I'm not lazy I'm just helping the birds and the bees! Long grass provides food and shelter for lots of insects, butterflies and birds. Thistles are very attractive to Goldfinches in Autumn and let the nettles grow in a sunny patch too - they may not seem like the most attractive plant to have in your garden, but the stinging nettle is one of the UK's most important plants for wildlife as it supports more than 40 species of insects, including some of our most colourful butterflies. Brambles are another food source for butterflies and birds and also provide good cover for small mammals.
BUTTERFLIES, BEES & BUGS
A wildflower area looks really attractive and helps to attract many butterflies which are becoming scarce as native hedgerows and meadows are lost. Buddleia is a favourite flower for many species of Butterfly and other good plants are Verbena, Choisya, Hebe and Lavender. Butterflies and Bees will be attracted to large flowering plants where the pollen and nectar can be reached easily. Perhaps you might like to buy a bee nesting box. It's good to try and keep a year round supply of nectar available for different insects. Ladybirds are great for the garden as they love to eat greenfly and you can buy bug boxes that will attract ladybirds to your garden and provide a place for them to stay over the Winter months.
A COMPOST HEAP
I have one of these behind a small wall at the back of my garden, (next to my little wild slope!). It's hardly noticeable over there and it's a good resource for various creatures. Birds like to feed on the invertebrates that love compost, particularly when the ground gets too hard for them in Winter. Don't leave meat or fish on it if you want to discourage rats, in any case vegetable waste is best for the soil. Be careful not to disturb small creatures such as hedgehogs or grass snakes when digging it over. Using compost is great for your garden and is vastly preferable to peat which is being plundered by big business at a huge environmental cost to the earth.
One of the most significant differences you can make to wildlife in your garden is to put in a pond. My garden is probably too small for this, you need to have a reasonable sized garden and also obviously need to think very carefully about it if you have young children around. A pond can provide a home for fishes, frogs, toads and newts, as well as attracting a variety of birds, small mammals and insects looking for food and drink or a place to bathe. It's a fact that garden ponds support over 50% of British frogs! As well as all these benefits they can really add to the look of your garden, but if you don't want to go to the trouble a pond involves, you could still be helpful by making a smaller water source available, such as a bird bath.
SAVE THE HEDGEHOG!
According to an article in the Guardian earlier this year, British hedgehogs are dying at a rate of approximately a fifth of the population every four years and if this trend continues they will be extinct in less than twenty years time. Help save the hedgehog!
To encourage them into your garden try creating a place for them to hibernate. The best hibernation heap is warm, dry and in a quiet corner such as the back of a border or behind a shed. Hedgehogs usually dig themselves under a pile of vegetation or leaves.You could make a natural-looking heap with a pile of logs, or even cover a wooden box with plastic and hide it beneath a pile of leaves. Purpose built boxes with internal tunnels can be bought, these help to protect hedgehogs from predators like cats and foxes.
If you want to leave food out, do so at night after the flies have gone and remove the food in the early morning, as fly maggots can cause hedgehogs serious harm. To prevent other animals like Badgers, Cats or Foxes stealing the hedgehog's food, keep it under a low platform. Contrary to traditional opinion it is not a good idea to leave bread and milk out for hedgehogs as this is actually bad for them. They can drink goats milk or the milk sold for cats, (like whiskas/felix milk), but water is the best drink as they need lots of it. A dish of tinned cat or dog food is one of the best foods to put out for them, apparently they like the chicken and liver varieties best, but not fish as that isn't natural for them and not the varieties with gravy as that can give them diarrhoea. Other options include; meat flavoured cat biscuits, chopped peanuts, raisins and mealworms.If you do start to feed them, be sure to keep it up, as they can quickly become dependant on you. If you are lucky enough to attract a hedgehog to hibernate in your garden leave some biscuits and water nearby as they often wake up in need of a quick snack and this can be a lifesaver.
The obvious way to attract birds to your garden is to keep a well stocked bird table in your garden and the other obvious thing is to put up a nesting box. If you do start a table, be sure to keep it stocked up, as birds often make special trips and can waste much needed energy doing this. Keep bird feeders high off the ground to make it harder for cats to pounce and keep any feeding containers clean. Lots of household scraps are fine to put out for birds, but don't put out salty food. The RSPB have a list available which shows what is best for certaion types of birds and what to avoid: http://www.rspb.org.uk/advice/feeding/what_food.asp. As an alternative to putting food out, plant bushes like Holly, Pyracantha and Cotoneasters which bear berries for birds to eat in Winter.
Bats are protected by UK law because their numbers have decreased so dramatically. Ponds are a bat friendly feature for your garden, as they provide a steady supply of insects to eat. A mixed, native hedge can also concentrate the insect supply for a variety of bat species. There are many websites which will show you the how to make a bat box for your garden to provide a place for them to roost and you can also buy ready made boxes. To find out more about these wonderful creatures visit The Bat Conservation Trust website at www.bats.org.uk
1. Don't buy peat or plants grown in peat. Peat bogs support rare wildlife, as well as this peat plays an important part in controlling the greenhouse effect and also acts as a unique acidic preserve that helps us to find out about our social and environmental history. 94% of the UK's peat bogs have already been destroyed, but they are still mining for it despite campaigns by environmental groups. Don't support this destruction, there are much better easy ways to garden.
2. Don't use chemicals on your garden.Weedkillers and slug pellets are not just poisonous to weeds and slugs. Find out more about organic gardening methods instead.
The bbc has lots of information on wildlife gardening, for more information visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/animals/wildbritain/gardenwildlife/
All of the nesting boxes I've mentioned are available to purchase from wildlife organisations such as the RSPB, whose online shop is at http://shopping.rspb.org.uk/mall/departmentpage.cfm/rspb
It is a widely held belief that gardening is good for you. It is good exercise, it builds confidence and self-esteem, and it promotes a sense of inner peace like nothing else on earth. In short, it can heal the mind and soothe the soul and really should be handed out in blocks of 1 hour on prescription in place of chemicals and drugs that fool you brain into thinking you are fine. I am a great believer in gardening for good health, and, having been treated for depression recently, have found my garden the most therapeutic and important element of my healing process.
My garden is an oasis of cool, soft-edged light, filtering through trees and climbers. Gentle sounds of wind chimes and bells ring out through the space, and although I am close to a busy main road, you wouldnt know, for the air is clear and quiet. It is the most peaceful place I know of.
One of the loveliest things about my garden is the abundance of wildlife. In fact, the children of my new neighbour this evening declared how unfair it was that the birds only visit my garden, and not theirs. They wanted to know why this was. The answer is fairly simple. The birds come because I invite them. Not in a Mary Poppins sort of way (no dancing penguins in my garden Im afraid!!!), but with food, water, nest-sites and places to play!
LOCAL WILDLIFE DEPENDS NOW MORE THAN EVER ON HOSPITABLE, WILDLIFE-FRIENDLY GARDENS!!!!
In this review I am going to tell you the basics of how to attract all sorts of wildlife to your garden, and even if you only do one thing, you will be making a difference to wildlife populations in your area. It all helps!
The Great Garden Food Chain
Once you get the basics of this, you will realise that chemical intervention is not needed to eradicate certain creeping/crawling fellows who like to eat your cabbages! Every creature that comes into your garden is generally part of the food chain bluetits love greenfly, blackbirds love worms and bugs and larvae, as do hedgehogs, who also devour slugs with great pleasure. The Thrush, if youre lucky to have one or two about, loves snails, and so it goes on. By making your garden hospitable for these creatures, they gradually help to balance out the overpopulated species (like snails and slugs!) so you dont have to zap them with dodgy chemicals!
The general rule of thumb, then, is that if you attract the smaller creatures, the larger ones will follow.
So, what plants to plant? This really depends on your space, but what I will do is describe to you what I have in my garden that I have found beneficial to local wildlife, and hopefully that will give you some idea as to what to plant.
Honeysuckle this is one of my favourite climbing plants, it has amazingly scented flowers which attract evening insects, and therefore swifts, moths and bats, and it is always covered in greenfly, which the bluetits adore they can often be seen hanging upside down from the branches. Birds also eat the red berries during the long winter months.
Buddleia this is famous for attracting butterflies in the daytime and moths in the evening AND IT DOES!!!! I have a large purple buddleia in my garden and if the sun is shining its covered in butterflies the most I counted in one sitting was eleven. Birds love the seeds in the autumn and winter months.
Thyme and Rosemary Bees adore these two popular garden herbs, and the fact they are easy to grow (just put them in a sunny spot, well drained soil, and a sheltered position, and they will grow quite happily for you!) makes them a perfect choice for the wildlife gardener they also taste great on potatoes and meat dishes!
Birds Foot Trefoil this is a wild flower, usually found along hedgerows I think, and I managed to grow some from seed a few years ago (The Organic Seed Company have details of this and other wild seeds, see below for details) and it is vigorous, and has tiny little yellow flowers, like miniature sweet peas birds eat the seeds, and butterflies and moths feed on them, and lay their eggs on the foliage. This is the best plant to attract the rare Blue Butterflies to your garden and I have had the honour of seeing 2 this summer! Well worth the effort!
Clematis is a fast growing climber which is perfect for nesting sparrows, which have been in decline recently, love to nest here as they are quite communal wee things, and they like to nest quite close to each other.
Other things to try leave a corner of your garden to grow wild or plant up a meadow : by mixing cornflower, poppy, daisy, scabious and grass seed together, you can create a meadow effect, which will provide nectar for bees and butterflies as well as seeds later in the season for birds. Nettles are great in the wildlife garden for many reasons they can be added to a compost heap to speed up the composting process; they can be left in a bucket of rainwater to make a nutritional feed for plants and fruit trees, and they are also perfect for butterflies to lay their eggs on. Apparently they make good soup, but I must admit that despite having a recipe, Ive never been brave enough to try that particular delicacy!
Hedges are great, not just to keep unwanted visitors out, but to give creatures a place to live. I have planted a hawthorn hedge down the boundary line of my back garden, and this is a perfect hedging plant. It is quite thorny and therefore cat-proof, so birds can nest safely in it the lower areas are perfect for frogs, toads, hedgehogs and field mice, it has lovely white, scented blossom in May, and produces heaps of red berries that will keep birds satisfied in the dark winter months.
If you want to attract any sort of wildlife to your garden , water is the surest way to do it. Have a pond if you can, as this will bring you frogs and maybe even newts but even if you dont have room for this, put out shallow dishes of water: you will find tat not only do birds visit your garden for a drink, but hedgehogs too. Always make sure that if you have deep water (for example, in a pond) that you make a shallow end, so that if any creatures fall in, they can get out again.
Making Tiny Homes
If you can, put up bird and bat boxes, and you will find that they are used for roosting perches in the winter, and nesting in the spring.
A pile of logs and sticks is the perfect place for beetles, snails and slugs to live, and you may find hedgehogs taking up permanent residence during their winter hibernation!
Hedgehog houses are often quite expensive, but I just made one out of some bamboo canes and an old plastic compost carrier if you are making your own, make sure the entrance is quite small: if it is large, you may have the local cats trying to shelter in there too!
Place a flat stone out for Thrushes to hammer the living daylights out of snails: youll know if the birds have had their lunch by the clutter of empty snail shells lying around!
A bug box is a good idea, to attract beneficial insects like Lacewings and Ladybirds to your garden again this is something you can make yourself by cutting short lengths of bamboo or hollow sticks and tying them together in a bundle. Place them in a bush or tree, but dont hide it too well, or the insects might have a job finding it!
Even in the middle of a big city there is still fantastic scope for members of the wildlife population to come and set up home in your garden. And once theyre there, they provide immense joy and satisfaction: they also help you to manage pest problems. For me there is nothing quite like sitting outside on a warm summers evening watching frogs jumping out of the flower borders, bluetits feasting on the honeysuckle, butterflies and early evening moths fluttering around the buddleia, the screech of the swifts through the dusky sky and the snuffle and shuffle of Mr and Mrs Hedgehog, on their evening patrol for worms, slugs and other delectable treats for their young family.
I am so proud of the little eco-system that is my back garden, and the whole families of creatures that it supports. It is a joy and a blessing to be able to create something that is beneficial to these wee creatures, and I hope in this review that maybe I have inspired you to do the same.
Helpful websites on this subject include:
Go into the gardening section and there is a whole library full of information to browse through!
GOOD LUCK AND HAPPY GARDENING!!
Thank you for reading. Kate x