The extra bits...(Under construction).

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Chester Zoo, The Islands, first impressions....

     A day off from domestic and garden duties today as George took the day off work and we toddled off to Chester Zoological Gardens with a view to the highly talked about 'Island at Chester Zoo' project which has not long opened. Boasting the Monsoon rain forest attraction within the UK's largest zoo exhibit and a selection of flora & fauna from the eastern isles, including large crocodiles to boot it was an attraction we'd looked forward to since hearing about the first plans for it. With visions of a lush rain forest teaming with wildlife and well designed areas to give the feel that the larger animals were not caged we headed for the new exhibits with perhaps a slight spring in our step, and can we recommend this new part of the zoo to others? errrr no, I'm afraid not.

     No don't get me wrong it is obvious that a lot of work has gone into this project but one cannot help but feel that there is somehow something missing, it is as if that it has been rushed at the last so as not to lose out on this years summer holiday rush of whinging, crying and generally miss-behaving children, it just feels that an opportunity to make a real statement for flora and fauna that would enchant adults and children alike for generations to coming and wake them up to a world that, until now, was not 'real' for them. It has an unfinished feel to it and the planting does not 'blend' or feel 'lush' as you feel a rain forest should. Perhaps I am being over critical but I can only say how I perceived the Islands and I felt disappointed to say the least. There are displays to represent a 'local' village, fishing beaches, temples and the like which seem unnecessary and to be honest detract from what the zoo is about such as conservation, raising awareness of the impact we as a species are having and getting people involved with wildlife and respecting its importance to our survival from an early age.

      In time the planting will mature and perhaps as well the introduction of more species and animals will take place. And also perhaps the tacky 'this is how people live on the islands' displays will make way for more appropriate attractions to enthrall and capture our imaginations. I sincerely hope so...


A promising view but it lacked a lushness and vibrancy you'd expect.

And this helps education about conservation how?

     As for the rest of the zoo? Absolutely bloody enchanting as ever. For a start off there is a 6 day old Asian elephant, now that is enchanting and shows real commitment to conservation...




     As well as the new baby elephant there have been three recent births for the Giraffes...




     But Chester Zoo also helps local wildlife with many projects, educational and hands on, taking place. One visible sign of this are the wild flower meadows that are springing up on what were grassed areas around the zoo...


How I would love the area beneath me cider trees to look..


    The old tropical house is still enchanting and the way it wraps itself around your senses puts the new exhibit to shame...













         It is not just the animals though that draw the both of us to Chester Zoo, there are areas within its gardens that just insist you sit awhile and forget about the world for a short time. I can only dream that Compromise Garden would ever be as peaceful as this...
















     Of course there are many areas to wander through and animals to see which can delight and enthrall, here is just a few....























      So perhaps it could have been a disappointing visit but for George and myself but it was a lovely day, yes the Islands were a big let down but in time they may mature into something enchanting but, for now, the rest of the zoo is still well worth a visit.

Till the next time take care,

John

Monday, 24 August 2015

Compromise Garden, fishpond update ....

      Good evening ladies and gentlemen (yes there are still a few of us gents out there) of the blogosphere. While there was enough blue in the sky today to patch a sailors pants I decided to make the header pool and waterfall feature for the fishpond. Just as well really as I have just had e-mail conformation that the new pump and filter kit is due to arrive tomorrow.

      For a change I remembered to document the stages of this small construction in the form of a few hastily taken pictures....




     As you can see the young pond has got its first algae bloom but I am not concerned about this as with the introduction of the filter system and plants the water will soon clear. The first stage, shown above, was to make the basic support for the header pool. No cement used here just earth pressed up tight against the bricks...


     ....once happy with the basic shape I then covered it all with under-liner to prevent any sharp edges from damaging the liner proper...


      .....which was the next to be added. Looking very untidy at this stage, but do not worry..it gets worse.....


     ....told you so, this large piece of slate serves two purposes...firstly as a support for the special feature...easy now... and secondly as the piece on which the water hopefully runs down to the pond in a tranquil and peaceful cascade (yeah right o)....


       .....ta da... the special feature item..an old iron pig feeder! now bare with me I have dream....



     ..... with the addition of some locally sourced stone, ahem don't ask, it is starting to look something like a water feature. Time for a quick test run then m'thinks....



      .....not bad, not bad at all, still needs a few tweaks but that will happen whilst I install the filter system. It does look a tad rough I will admit but once the pond and surrounding area is planted I am hoping it will pull together as well as the rest of the garden has done.

      Speaking of the rest of the garden, the dragonfly, spotted a couple of days ago, returned whilst I was doing my hairy arsed builder impression and this time I managed to get a couple of shots of the little camera shy tyke...







       Funny but it spent most of the time landing on different areas of stone around the new pond, each time probing around with the floor its rear end, does anyone have an explanation for this behavior? I have to admit to being absolutely spellbound by this majestic creature and its acrobatic display around the garden.

     We have also indulged ourselves in a few more plants from a posh garden center this weekend just gone, these include;- Chrysanthemum Branroyal white (actually its pink!), Sedum Munstead Red, Ligulria Desdemona (the foliage is bloody lovely), Oxalis triangularis, two stunningly blue Delphiniums (Blue Nile & Faust) and finally Geranium Rozanne. Sorry about the posh names but I thought that I would try and make the effort to upgrade my paltry blog with some clever sounding stuff. The majority of these plants were not bought with wildlife in mind I have to confess but rather just to add structure and were some plants that just caught our eye. The Geranium was the only wildlife consideration buy, it was covered in bees at the center and I had just the spot in mind for one. A mad burst of extravagance I know but they have all added value in different ways to compromise garden. Well I finish off with just a few quick snaps of whats just flowering now....
The Geranium in its new home...... under my seat.


Delphinium Faust 
Delphinium Blue Nile


Ligularia Desdemona....this one was already in the garden I've just added another.

     That just about wraps it up then I guess so I wish you all peace and good wishes, till the next time take good care of yourselves,

John