The wildlife pond has a leak

The original wildlife pond in my garden was just an upturned black plastic bin lid – and didn’t leak. There again, neither did it have any detectable wildlife in it…Hence Wildlife Pond V2 – which came into existence yesterday. It too has black plastic (doesn’t seem any getting around that) liner, but also has very ostensibly less water in it than yesterday. So, I’ll have to keep an eye on it.

It’s not like in this arctic weather (literally Easterly winds from Russia) something would have drunk that much water. It was warm yesterday though, oh yes! Very muddy, so not totally perfect pond digging conditions, but warm and sunny it was in spades. I seized the opportunity to get the pond started – just in case it might come in handy for any frogs come Spring! Oxygenator plants for it are winging their way here (via ebay).

It’s not much to look at at the moment, so no photos just yet. But the plan is to fringe it with water loving plants – pink Loosestrife, Ragged Robin (grown from seed) and a few more I’ve forgotten – oh yes the Crocosmia that likes damp in summer! Going for overall pinky reds. I might include the Perky Diarama couldn’t resist ordering from Broadleigh Gardens – as bulbs not plants, strictly speaking (sticking to my New Year’s resolution there, not to buy any actual plants, only seeds etc). I read Diaramas don’t like being actually in or near the water so will plant them up the bank a little way.

There’s no guarantee this pond, like the dustbin lid before it, will gather any more wildlife to it – but there’s always hope! Would love to encourage a few dragonflies, damsels, that kind of thing! To that end, one end is really shallow and will be mostly water covered pebbles in order that insects can safely drink from it. As seen on Twitter last year, when somebody had posted a delightful picture of glass pebbles in a water filled receptacle done so that insects could sit on top of them and get access to the water without falling in.

This pond V2 is visible from the kitchen window too, so do hope to catch few glimpses. Not that a wildlife pond isn’t also there for the creatures you rarely see, as well – those out and about at night (as most mammals are, I’m learning). For them too, especially the hedgehogs, the shallow ledge around the edge and the plank ladder out of there. Must say am really pleased to have had Katie Bradbury’s pond digging plan to hand as it really helped!

The final touch will have to be another of those miraculous mini sun powered water fountains! Can’t wait – but will have to, as I’m out of budget for now! Will be a nive addition to keep it full of bubbles and make a nice tinkling. Which hopefully we’ll be able to hear from the new circular meadow/prairie garden, right next door! As in literally, a few feet away…(once it all appears!)

Post Script: I did find a frozen pond photo, and leak turned out to be where I’d cut the liner a bit low…so had to empty most the rainwater out again, tug the liner more over one side and that did the trick! After refilling with rainwater again, that is…

A Masterplan…At last!

Having been muddling through, and wondering where I’d put everything if I managed grow plants from all the seeds I’ve collected – in a fairly small garden…at last a Masterplan comes to me!

I didn’t think of it, it was given to me by my dear husband (and he I think got it from Professor of Planting Design, Nigel Dunnett, whose work I love!) And suddenly the garden all starts to make sense…

I was definitely going for a Scented Garden this year – very much so, scents being what I missed in my garden last year (no heady auras by day or lingering perfumes by night). And what I wasn’t providing for insects either…(and possibly why the garden wasn’t attracting many butterflies?)

But although the scented idea has informed my seed choices (Basil, Bergamot, Verbena and Snapdragons among other things) this didn’t help with the missing overall sense of structure for me to work to. Last year I was just striking out and digging up grass as I went to make room for some new things. And in other areas letting some grass grow longer. This meant I had some ‘meadow’ but it wasn’t very impressive I have to say, and not very obviously populated by insects. Disappointing all round! (Hold that thought).

I’d already decided to go for a bit more of a Prairie bed – which I have been populating with verbenas and grasses and hopefully daisies since November (to provide more flowers for butterflies) – but this still wasn’t very satisfactory comprising a rectangular bed dug into the lawn.

So now the new plan can be revealed….at last! Thanks to the snow that fell today…

You can see one of the teasels that only got transplanted here to this prairie bed in the foreground the other day! Bu also that faint circle of footsteps in the snow…

Seen from the other angle it looks like this:

Looking East and showing all the new planting to be done!

And so the Masterplan or masterstroke is – to leave just a circle of lawn (which I’ll only mow once a month) and let grass grow long around the edges, along with Corncockles, Achilleas, Daisies, Teasels, Verbena Bonensiaris etc which I can now plant in all the space that won’t be in the circle! Wuhu!

SO – – more planting area, more structure, more flowers – and with some of those small beach sunchairs more privacy too, for sunbathing….Can’t wait! Nor can these seedlings, currently standing by in the new greenhouse…

Seedlings sheltering include Hollyhocks, Chicory and Sweet Rocket

New Year new plans….resolutions even

So 2021 is seen in with a bit of snow here in the W Mids/South East (here at a four county border hard to tell which region we’re in – as if #wildlife would care!!)

Exciting checking out footprints – defo foxes roaming about the garden last night. As usual digging up bits of earth though must have been hard, frozen solid nearly. A wildlife cam would be good but might also take the mystery out of it….perhaps.

The pond has been frozen over for days – all day long too, so cold. Have been making breaks in the ice in case anything needs more O2.

Put out some special wool compost – dunno smells a bit sheep poo-ey too – supposed to keep the slugs off, will let you know!! Really want to keep my seedlings going, sweet rocket, ragged robin, nightime catchfly, and more to come!

Which brings me neatly to my NY resolution . Apart from needing to try and to cut down costs and spending, I also need to cut down on on use of space (as bed space is rapidly running out – until I dig some more lawn up!) So I have resolved to not buy any plants this year (it’s going to be tough). PLANTS but not seeds or bulbs! Haha, there is the loophole.

Seeds are much cheaper even if needing much more work (but half the fun is the growing and defending of seedlings – hence the sheepwool compost). Bulbs are great fun as I invariably forget and get surprised when and where they come up! Although I do have plenty of empty looking pots which are already showing signs, through the snow, of new life bursting up.

So good for getting through the winter, and especially this one. ‘To Garden is to look forward to the future’….Slight misquote there, but so true!

Slow work

Now the nights are drawing in, I’m finding a bit more time to put towards this project. November was so (worryingly?) warm in fact that I was gardening right up to the end of it, putting in ‘Goose-Necked Loose Strife ‘ as recommended for butterflies by Professor Dave Goulsen. (Author of “The Garden Jungle” which I have yet to settle down and read most of. Inspiring stuff though, even just sitting there on the coffee table to be looked at every time I do sit next to it!). I’m hoping the Loosestrife will be a more constantly flowering offering than my small Buddleias which managed to attract Red Admirals and Peacocks for two just two weeks this year to my joy and delight!

Also put in some tall grasses and more michaelmas daisies for next year, to build up a bit more of a prairie offering (as per a SaveTheButterflies webinar I joined August this year). Have to say, got the grasses from Beth Chatto and was delighted – free delivery this time of year and as they said, plenty of time for these plants to settle in before the hard winter sets in.

So there hasn’t been much time for WordPressing, what with Christmas afoot. However I have yet to stitch this site together, so there’s plenty to do! I suppose it’s the same as my garden, no overriding design as such (nothing a la Titchmarsh). Just a longing to add more, learn more and employ what tips I have picked up as I go along – in order to promote wildlife. And always, to put more plants in!

Next year I will be severely restricted on budget and so i’m determined to grow more of my own wildflowers from seed – And am looking forward to putting in my carefully protected Sweet Rocket and heritage Hollyhocks (a gift from from an elderly gardener). This is the way forward, I feel! Would say please comment if you agree – but haven’t yet figured out the comments page, sorry!

Well that went well!

Talk about get to grips with WordPress, never got so lost in my life! Can edit up and running pages, and because of that, thought would be simple to start from scratch (without reading or having received the how to email for Day 1!) So!

About as much success as trying to plant hoary plantain seeds this November – however, they, the packet did say, are hardy seeds that are happy to stay in the ground until they’re ready – good and ready – to germinate. I’m hoping this blogging will go along those lines – it’s been underground for a while now while I tussle with the edits. Not so sure about the Silene Noctiflora (love that name) don’t think that late October sowing will be so good for that, even though really it’s been so mild. Worryingly mild.

Some good news – Greenpeace seem to be having some bearing planetwise – even getting the PM to sign up for things, things like no polluting cars by 2030. Bet he thinks he’ll be long gone by then, so why not sign up now? Overall though, Lockdown does seem to be having some green results, even if it’s not all wins (HS2 continuing, this dismantling of Planning Law and a very dubious Agriculture Bill and a far too flimsy Environment Bill – all my MP’s doing).

But I suddenly realised, duff though my WordPress start is, it’s worth continuing with, and persevering with as it’s what I really want to do. So I’ll just to have to work it out as I go along! Somethings work, some don’t – experience is building and the whole thing is character testing (even if I’m failing there as well!). So please “bear with” as this blog stumbles towards something readable and actually information bearing.

Today for example, reminded by my large Garden To Do list album, I looked up in the lovely old ‘Create a Butterfly Garden’ book I got from @BooksandInk to find which plant in particular is loved by butterflies. There’s hundreds of them! Stymied, right there. There’s not just one – of course! Don’t know why I thought there was one in particular. I can never get enough plants!

However, a lovely mention of nettles in this book (by a bloke who was butterfly advisor to Winston Churchill and called L. Hugh Newman) stirred me to action! It said if you have Michelmas daisies by the shed and leave the door open over winter, the flowers will bring the last butterflies* in and they might overwinter inside. But you must have Nettles right outside the shed door too – so that when the butterflies emerge, they can nip out and start laying their eggs straight onto the young nettles in early Spring.

I won’t tell you what I did next. Suffice it to say, there is is a little nettle bed now, next to my shed. I’m not sure it’s sunny enough and haven’t seen any last butterflies go in the shed, but have left the door open…..

* I’m sure he mentioned that it’s Peacocks and Admirals that like nettles, and may overwinter here if they find a suitable spot. Will look that up again

Today’s the day

Today’s the day I get brave and decide to get to grips with WordPress in order to blog a bit, or to start blogging, anyway. In order in turn to log a few discoveries along the way, as I learn more about the wildlife around me. With the overall aim of connecting to that wildlife more and becoming more wild myself! Big aim – but important, these days, more than ever, to connect with one’s own wild side. All the while looking out for all those insects and ‘critters’ that are helping us so much, unsung and behind the scenes…