The extra bits...(Under construction).

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Wildlife garden beginnings......

     Hello there upon this rather bright, sunny and bloody cold Saturday afternoon. For those who have followed this blog for a little while (yes I do actually manage to keep some folk interested enough to return) ye may know that I have an interest in nature, although I'm not particularly knowledgeable upon the subject I am always learning. I have always wanted a wildlife garden, more so over the last few years where my turbulent and nomadic lifestyle failed to find me a port in which to anchor for more than a few months. Until now that is, living here in the village is slowly helping me become more grounded and stable....well as stable as this mad old pirate may become!

     So in the very late Autumn of last year steps were taken to achieve my dream of a wildlife haven upon my doorstep. Of course, with a house's garden there is always compromises to be made. So we first drew a list up of what the small garden would have to accommodate....


  • A workshop/shed for yours truly
  • Somewhere to sit in privacy
  • A place to park and work upon automobiles
  • A wildlife pond
  • A pond for fish
  • Planting for wildlife
  • Planting for color
  • A 'living roof'
  • A place to dry washing
  • Areas to attract and shelter wildlife
  • A compost heap
  • A greenhouse (extremely doubtful this one)
  • Has to be tranquil, very tranquil.
    
     Not a big list true, but with a small space it should be an interesting project. I wish that I'd taken pictures of the garden when I first moved in but as mentioned in earlier posts I've only just now renewed my taste for the camera so I guess I'll just have to give you a brief, verbal description of the initial garden. 

     Tis an 'L' shaped garden and looking from the house the larger area is on the left and measures approx eighteen feet by twenty six feet. This area was on two levels separated by a low stone wall, the smaller area by the house being a graveled seating area the larger upper level, being about eighteen feet by twenty feet, laid to grass (now mud) with one corner (upper left) having a so called shrub border which, being honest, was a right bloody mess of planting. In the left lower corner though there were just two plants one being a glorious Japanese Maple of a deep red hue but the other being a Cherry tree which had grown so large as to totally overshadow the garden and house, at this size it was far to close to the house and its foundations.

     Looking from the house again, to the right of the larger area there is a graveled 'parking' area which though large enough to fit my car on, access is severely hampered by a block built storage hut which will have to go. The whole 'L' shaped garden is sided by either neighbor's house/outbuilding walls with a three foot fence running across the bottom and down the side of the 'L'. One thing that I'm very happy about is that it's South facing and, judging by some of the plants in the top corner very sheltered to boot.

     I have done some work already, October saw me lay the base for the shed and also the beginnings of a slabbed sitting area next to the house. Also I bought several very cheap and small shrubs, the type that sit on supermarket shelves for eons until they're discounted because they're at death's door. My parents gave me some potted up roses and a few other bits to help. I have taken down the Cherry tree and moved a large Camellia bush to the side as it stood right in the front and middle of the top corner border blocking everything else, also it was where I wanted to place a small wildlife pond. The small shrubs I'd bought were planted as well as a large and mixed quantity of bulbs. The level of the border was raised by the soil from the pond and also from some added compost from the store of B and the Q. Ericaceous compost was added in a large amount in and around the Camellia's roots and after initially dropping about half of its leaves and having a third of its height taken off it seems to have stabilised, time will tell.

     Come December the shed arrived and was erected. I say shed but it looks like a bloody big Wendy house! Compromise I guess :( and being as the weather was still mild I installed the wildlife pond at the same time unearthing a rather grisly find, and then backed it with a log pile. Behind the log pile the bird feeders are to be found and due to the present lack of cover for birds I had the idea of making a loose frame of thin branches from the now deceased Cherry tree and this seems to have had a positive affect as the birds certainly use it. Whilst doing this I also made some trellis out of more of these branches to support a honeysuckle that had been left to wander, unsuccessfully I might add, on the ground.

     I've skipped through the tasks trying not to make this post too long winded, though things like the wildlife pond, planting and future projects will have posts devoted to them, I just want to set the 'skeleton' of the wildlife garden project out for you. For now I shall leave you with a few pictures took yesterday before the snow melted totally...oh sorry about the hounds getting in the way, they're just bloody divas them two.....

Ooohh dad's got the camera out...

    Above looking back from behind the garden towards the house, sticks for cover, snow smattered log pile and frozen pond...


Bloody Wendy house!!


   Frow this shot you can see the impact a ten by ten man cave   er Wendy house has had and I'm already planning on how to make it 'disappear' into the background, you also see how low the fencing is and I also have a very interesting, well to me, idea about this.




     Wildlife pond close up with log pile behind..

What a mess!!!!


     The dormant Japanese Maple in front of an area which hopefully this year will become a building with a living, mossy roof. Apparently this used to be a 'lean to' where the old privy was housed...Victorians eh?


     The Cherry tree 'stump' and the beginnings of a Japanese Maple border with underlying carpet of perennials (hopefully), oh yes the 'Y' shaped tree is a much smaller type of flowering Cherry that should reach no more than fifteen foot and will add early color and blossom.

      So there you have it, my 'wildlife garden beginnings'. Any tips on planting or anything else to encourage wildlife to my little spot of suburbia will be truly welcome. Until the next time, take care...

John

29 comments:

  1. I love that shed, John. Nice place to drink some fine ales, read books and relax. It's all looking good.

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  2. It's already busting at the seams of stuff that needs sorting Dave! But yeah once I get a workbench, power, some reading material and my fruit press installed it'll be my little retreat.

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  3. What a great project John - look forward to reading how it all progresses :) I love the shed too - could do with somewhere like that to escape to :) Wildlife pond is looking good. I think I can see a nestbox on one of the walls?? One of the best plants for colour, smell and attracting insects (and goldfinches like the seedheads) is lavender. You really have made a super start though :)

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    1. Thank you Robin, its not a bird box on the wall but something a little different, although I need to change its position to South facing. I intended introducing lavender this year for the very reasons you mentioned.

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  4. Slow but STEADY will do the trick. Most folks fly in with great zeal, but then tire of the effort. You'll get your list!

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  5. Will look lovely in the Summer I'm sure, lovely patio area.

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    1. Still along ways to go but it'll good seeing it grow and mature.

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  6. I am very jealous of your wendy house John, it would be just the job for me to sit in and do a bit of seed potting. Have you got room for a little wildflower section to encourage bees and butterflies, lovely to watch in the Summer. I think your garden will look fab. We have absolutely no privacy in ours sadly and our neighbour on one side, although nice is a right nosey sod :)
    Twiggy

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    1. Privacy is one thing that we really want and I have a cunning plan regarding that. I've been thinking about wildflowers and possible will incorporate some large tubs along side the parking area when the block built storage bit comes down. Hoping that other planting will encourage bees and butterflies too.

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  7. Hi John, great work in the garden ,its looking really good!
    Are you wanting to soften or blend in the look of the " wendy shed " along with the native look ,could I suggest maybe a small trellis on one side or both of the door with a small leaf climber perhaps with a lovely native flower .. Just a thought ! I have a passion fruit vine over my garden shed ,they are growing at the moment and the size of large oranges .Everything in my garden seems to grow larger than normal ,the zucchini I picked was easy 20 cms and very thick .anyway, good luck with everything! Good to see the girls enjoying it all to .Beautiful pics with the snow around.
    Cheers BW * *

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    1. Thinking along those lines Bron for the shed, I'm not surprised plants go mad in your climate.

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  8. Hello John..thank you for stopping by my blog. I am a new gardener and just started putting in a wildlife garden 5 years ago. I'd say you have a really good garden going here. When my late friend who was a wildlife rehabber was asked about a garden by me, she said simply... "Study what wildlife you have and want and plant native plants, places to breed and things to eat". So that is what I am doing. I am taking a special interest now in pollinators especially bees as they are on the decline here in the states. So i put in more native flowers to feed on and places for the queen bees to dig in for the winter's hibernation... I am enjoying your blog and your style...Michelle

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    1. Thank you for stopping by Michelle and for your kind words. It's insects I'm aiming to attract first as I believe a healthy area that attracts these will then attract other wildlife. Bees, I believe are in decline here too so special attention will be given not only to planting but in areas to hopefully encourage them to breed.

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  9. Nice looking building if you ask me. What exactly is a Wendy house?

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  10. Thanks PP, a Wendy house was, a may still be, a small I think plastic gaudy looking children's play house for putting out on the lawn

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  11. Except for all that white stuff, it seems to be coming along quite well. I'll keep watching as the project unfolds.

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    1. Cheers Mark. White stuff gone for the time being....hope this project keeps you entertained

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  12. Wot Wot! a garden AND a pond, woooo hooooooo. You have the makings of a paradise John, truly. I already like the levels you have o indeedie. Think of them as transition areas. Ummmm, may I offer a few suggestions? Too late I will :) If this were mine I would paint/stain fences and buildings the same colour so they become a back drop for the plantings. Lets say a lovely moss green, hehehehe, or a sand, something neutral unless you want an explosion of various colours. The level just below the pond could be an awesome herb garden. Just think of the fragrances you would inhale while oot and aboot in it. One thing about herbs is they prefer sandy soil so if you do don't be loading it with lots of compost. What about leeks? Shouldn't you have some and nooooo not leak. The pups will take care of that. The log pile looks nice this time of year but a word of caution it will also harbour nasty bugs that may feast on your plants come spring. One more thing? OK I will :) You will soooooooooo enjoy the pond, trust me. May I suggest Pennywort be planted around it. It's a ground cover that will spread right over the edges blending it in and provides a super life line for frogs that can't hop out of the water. Oh! I have sand spread on the bottom of mine so it doesn't look dark and dreary. Added bonus is the frogs burrow into it to sleep away the winter, lucky beggers. When it comes down to it John, this is your garden. Cruise nurseries when they open and be selective! Look at the form, colours, fragrance; is it a plant for shade or sun; is it right for your area; and maintenance. Have I run out of room yet ? Too bad :) I have a feeling you would enjoy native plants and perhaps there is a nursery near you that specializes in them. If not it would make a fun road trip and more often than not you'll make new friends with the owners once you start talking planteeze. Whatever you do, make it your own laddie and you'll have fun and satisfaction in its creation.

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    1. Bloody hell Cheryl that has to be the longest comment ever on me blog! Thank you so much for taking the time and for the advice. I'll be doing a post about the pond shortly, the area in front of it? Well you almost read my mind but not quite as there's a second larger pond planned for here for fish...probably Rudd. But the planting around will then include lots of herbs as well as other scented plants. Thought about painting the shed green but thinking of replacing the low fencing with something a tad different. I understand your concerns about the wood pile but it also provides cover for beneficial creatures too...I guess its about getting the balance right.

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  13. the pond and twiggy areas are very neat! great plan, john!

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  14. My gardens have always had just 2 priorities; a good sized orchard, and a veg' plot. I like flowers, but know nothing about them.

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  15. I wrote a post listing (primarily) native plants species that are great for wildlife and another one for pond plants. Here are the links if you want a look : http://countrysidetales.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/how-to-garden-for-wildlife-native-plant.html and http://countrysidetales.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/how-to-make-garden-pond.html
    The plant lists are towards the end of both posts so you can skip through the waffle at the start :o)

    I love your shed- M converted the garage into his shed- it's where he brews much of his beer. I think I've persuaded him to do a guest post on my blog about home brew after Dave asked :o)

    Your garden is looking good- it'll be great to see how it progresses this summer. Well done you.

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    1. Thank you very much for the links, I shall pore thru them when time allows.... Including the waffle ;) There is a link to my cider making on my recipe tag if M is interested. Look forward to his guest Post

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    2. Thank you very much for the links, I shall pore thru them when time allows.... Including the waffle ;) There is a link to my cider making on my recipe tag if M is interested. Look forward to his guest Post

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  16. This is so ripe with possibility! I recommend herbs. Especially rosemary. It is leggy and tends to take up lots of room, but it sustains itself beautifully and can be used in all sorts of cooking projects. Plus, it is a lovely herb to look at....

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    1. I actually have Rosemary on my possible list Maria, you've just promoted it to the definite list m'dear :)

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