The extra bits...(Under construction).

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Wildlife Garden, Newts & Nettles ....


     Good day ladies and gentlemen and I hope that I find you all in fine fettle. Tis been a busy week for moi in one way or another to say the very least, in fact I haven't had time to fart, pardon the expression! I have to admit to having taken time away from work as the 'Dog' has bared her teeth a little and my mind needed just to calm down for awhile. But instead of dwelling upon my low mood I have, as mentioned, been as busy as a busy thing and I have a myriad of things to blog about but for the time being I shall restrict myself to just updating you upon the wildlife garden that I'm attempting to nurture.Well there certainly have been some developments in the exceedingly small area that I have for the purpose of making a haven for wildlife. There have been a couple of new fauna additions and plenty of flora additions.

      Where I work the factory is a desert for wildlife with now close cropped grass where once there was a budding meadow and large areas of concrete. Every year about this time the concrete is a scene of amphibian carnage as Common Newts trek across the concrete only for most of them to be splattered by the endless forklift traffic. I do what I can when time allows collecting them and returning them to the haven beyond the perimeter fencing. But over the years there has been a steady and sharp decline in the numbers of Newts found un-splattered or not which has made me consider that the numbers will eventually die out due to the industrial environment which is still increasing in the area. On my last night shift that I attended only five living Newts, and four flat ones, were to be found. So going against my first instinct of not moving wildlife from its local I instead put the five away safely until the end of the shift and took them home to release them into the wildlife garden, where they all made a beeline for the woodpile. Once they were safely out of sight I was able to drag my weary body to bed for a much needed cuddle and long sleep. I doubt if I'll know if this amphibian transplant is a success or not as Common Newts are a secretive creature though maybe one day they will honor me with a visit to breed in the pond....


Common or Smooth Newt inspecting my work.....
  
     .....The other addition to garden is the long awaited frogspawn, and before there is any wailing and gnashing of teeth no I did not take this from Nercwys Forest on my last walk up there, even though there was loads of the stuff. No this small clump was kindly donated from a work colleges pond and already within a matter of days the change in the spawn is visible.....


Sorry about the hand shadow but it stopped the water's glare in the sun...

     Finally I have new visitors whom have appeared under their own steam....my first Bumble Bee (possibly a Queen by the size) made a brief visit to the flowering Dwarf Iris and the pond is suddenly teaming with Daphnia (too blasted small for a photograph), though how the hell they've got there is a mystery to me but bloody pleasing as the lower tiers of the food chain appear to be occurring in the pond...result!    

 So that's the fauna news so onto the flora, but where to begin? Well to start with in previous posts I have explained that this small patch of Eden will have to be a compromise, yes I refer to it as a wildlife garden but also it must contain a Wendy house err workshop, a place for me to work on larger projects, the planting has to also satisfy not just from a wildlife perspective but also the planted area must be a place of relaxation and appeal to not only myself but to my once Londonium living partner who has to have a say in the garden at some point (this said very grudgingly) So the plants incorporated are not always chosen for wildlife but simply because we like them. For example the list of planting this week included;- Clematis (Montana Mayleen) to help cover a boundary, Wisteria again for the same boundary, Verbena (Bonariensis) definitely one for the bugs, Rosemary for the scent and the kitchen, Lavender for the scent and the bugs, Poppy (Papaver orientalis) for bugs and stunning impact, Mint for the kitchen, Chive for the kitchen and the bugs, Hosta (Albo Marginata) for cover on the edge of the pond, Gladioli Priscilla for patio color, Viola mixed for color in the pots, Trailing Begonia again for color, Lilium Vermeer for background color, Freesia Single Pink for background color, a host of Dahlias including Mystery Day, Glory van Noordwijk, & Esther all because we love their blooms but also some chosen for bug attraction, Mixed Crocosmia for bugs and finally Tigridia Pavonia for its stunning flower and bug attraction. Now this may appear to be an expensive list but some plants such as the mint & chive were donations and the rest were bought from the local supermarket at bargain prices, yes perhaps not very big or the best of condition of plants but with a tad of love and care within a few years hopefully they shall mature nicely and contribute to the garden blending and weaving together to produce a wildlife full and restful place.

     Other news is the delivery and installation of not one but two compost containers. I'm not a fan of the plastic type but again the word compromise rules the day. They fit brilliantly in the space allocated and they were free, one was a donation and t'other was err ah yes 'reclaimed' from a derelict garden (well slightly overgrown). The first one is already half full thanks to a kindly donation of well rotted horse poo from a Mr. Rodgers and is now being topped up with all things composty...

Compost bins one & two...

     Well I guess that covers progress so far apart from some visual aids for you all (that'll be pictures then).....

Dwarf Iris or now called Bee magnet

Lungwort

Cowslip

Dwarf Daffodils

Grape Hyacinths

Anemone

Patio pots planted under supervision..

The pond border towards the workshop

The pond border towards to log pile

     Oh and one last thing, tis funny how outlooks change. I found a solitary Nettle plant that had taken up residence, now a few years ago this would have been ragged out or killed by chemicals but 'the now' is slightly different. Compromise comes to play again and I just have not the space nor the time to have a forest of these tenacious plants running riot in this small plot but I do have a long tub, spare compost and a space where said tub fits snugly so the last plant to add to this weeks planting list is Common Nettle, for the bugs of course.


Nettle border
     So things are moving in the right direction, and I'll leave you all with a question to ponder....What are you doing to help wildlife in your garden?

Til the next time, take care all,

John



30 comments:

  1. A busy time indeed! The bumble will almost certainly have been a Queen, looking for a nest site. One word of caution re your frogspawn, it is possible to transmit 'red leg,' a froggy disease, by introducing spawn from alien ponds to a resident population, so I wouldn't add any more in. Flowers are looking great and I'm glad to see your Chief Gardener (on the bench) supervising the planting closely :o)

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    1. That's what I thought about the bee though nowhere for her to nest here at the moment CT. The spawn intro, as are the snails and possibly newts is a one off as I'm really trying to attract not introduce wildlife so what comes here comes because it wishes to and finds the area suitable, but thank you for the warning. Yes Nelly seems to have taken over as supervisor whilst Bear still just wants to be a distraction. ;-)

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  2. Wow, well done and a nettle in a tub is a good idea, hope you did the sane with the mint! We try and grow helpful bug plants and don't spray except organically if we really have to.

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    1. Yep the mint is definitely held within a sturdy tub DC, it's the square one in front of compost corner, Really trying to avoid sprays and the like here too.

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  3. wow John sounds like you have been really busy and it's coming on a treat, love the photo of your garden supervisor. It's all change in our garden as we are moving plants from the allotment to pots and raised beds in to the garden, so far we have redcurrants, whitecurrants, blackcurrants, gooseberries, raspberries and lots of pots of rhubarb and various trees - we don't even have a very big garden !! All the birds we have kindly been feeding better not scoff my soft fruits :)
    Twiggy

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    1. Thank you Twiggy, being the pirate that I am if theres any fruit trees going spare, you know to kindly help out as us pirates do .............
      ;-)

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  4. I was a big newt collector as a kid...
    I once had one for 4 years

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  5. That has to be a record my dear Mr. Grey :-)

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  6. Monty Don on Gardeners World is building a new wild life garden - you could show him him what's needed John, cause yours is coming on a treat (can't stand Monty Don and only watch it for glimpses of his dog Nigel!) - some nice plants there too xxx

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    1. Thank you very much Trudie but I'm just learning this wildlife gardening malarkey and probably making many mistakes as I go along. I have to admit to preferring Mr. Hamilton over the fellows that since took over on Gardeners World and yes I'm afraid Monty gets right up my nose so I haven't watched the programme for some considerable time.

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  7. Your garden is looking really good John.
    I have found that the bees around here have dropped significantly and some one mentioned it has been happening everywhere. I have lavender scattered all through my garden and various native plants and trees hoping to attract the bees . I read that some wasps are also good to have around the gardens. Great photos, nice flowers. ..Bron **

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    1. Thank you Bron, Reductions in Bee numbers seem to be happening in many places without the reasons being fully understood. I definitely think that planting plants native to your country can only help.

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  8. Hi John, I came by to return the blog visit and follow. Thank you for visiting mine and taking the time to comment. Very interesting about the wildlife garden; I had to go back to look at your previous posts about it. You have a great start. Hopefully the workshop will also allow for some observation.

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    1. Thank you and your most welcome here Leigh, hopefully there will be time for observation at some point in this journey.

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  9. John - I suppose the only thing I directly do is currently provide onion and garlic greens for our resident rabbit population. Planting season will start up soon here. Oh, and I suppose trying to manage the outside ant, cutworm, and slug populations organically and keep the local toads alive eating pests.

    Lovely pictures. Many thanks!

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    1. My pleasure TB, every little helps especially the organic route.

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  10. My compost heap has collapsed, so I think I may follow your lead and go plastic. We have recently had several pairs of mating Toads on the pool cover; I gather them up and take them to a nearby pond. Do I get my Brownie points?

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  11. Good on you for helping nature John. Brill photos!

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  12. LOL you got a canine supervisor. All I ever get is feline ones the canine just goes somewhere and falls asleep. Your garden is looking good and gratz on the compost bins!!!

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    1. Thanks PP, damn thing is one hound supervises whilst the other needs constant supervision.

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  13. Many many years ago, while getting up very early to ride my bike down to the library, and catch the bus to work, I got caught in the rain. This may seem very hard to believe, but it was as though it was raining salamanders (newts) - they were everywhere! It was a challenge not to run over them with my bike. This was very early in the morning as the buses didn't run often to my neck of the woods, so when asking if anyone at work if they saw all of the salamanders, they thought I was crazy. I had never seen this happen before and have never seen it happen since. It was a bit sci-fi, actually. 40 years ago. Jeeze, I am getting old. Ranee (MN)

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    1. Age catches us all Ranee, I have heard of a rain of frogs but not certainly not Salamanders. Tis a strange world we live in

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  14. hello -- just stumbled across your blog whilst following a trail of blog-crumbs -- what a lovely spot you have here!

    what a marvelous thing you're doing with your wildlife garden. i'm all full of The Plans to do similar things in our patch so i'll be taking notes.

    excellent score on the nettles.....good for people, as well as the bugs :). i'm very envious of anyone with *anything* green in their garden just now, still being under siege by winter as we are.

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    1. Hello Mel and warm welsh welcome to you. Thank you for your kind words and hopefully we will be able to compare notes on our 'patches'

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  15. we have a really wild section in our garden, I keep it like that for the wildlife and the nettles for me for soup!

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    1. I have never tried Nettle soup nor Nettle tea for that matter although a do remember many years ago copious amounts of Nettle would be cooked up along with tripe or sheep heads for the greyhounds we once trained.

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  16. It's good to see your garden coming to life, I like seeing that you were well supervised in planting the pots too! Sarah

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    1. Thank you Sarah, the 'supervision' is a regular occurrence nowadays, although I think Nelly just likes sitting there in the sun truth be told.

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Feel free to comment but no blaspheming now...