My Patch – A Garden update: June & July

When I last wrote about the garden on May 27th it was still looking rather unloved, as you can see over the summer it has been developing rather well 🙂 

I was concerned that I would only have a sparse covering of wildflowers this year, I was partially right.  Now I planted half of the garden a few weeks before the other half and with a different brand of seeds, so, there are a lot of variables to take into account.  The part I planted first really took hold and is full of greenery with some flowers in bloom.  The other half, well, its more soil than it is greenery!  Some ‘things’ have grown under the roses but I’m fairly sure they have naturally occurred and are not what I sowed.  I have left them as at least its vegetation protecting the soil from the intense heat – I am yet to investigate what they actually are, mainly because they are all leaf!

As plants have been flowering I have been taking photos and doing my best to identify them, so far I think I have: Red Dead-nettle, Great Willowherb, Love-in-a-mist, Corncockle, Cornflower and Hollyhock.

and lots that I still don’t know what they are!

The stinging nettles haven’t come through the fence as much as I thought they would, so have not been too much of a problem, but the ivy is starting to come in again and bind weed has been untangled from a sunflower!  The Velvet Queen sunflowers are doing really well and are still flowering.  

The sunflower seeds that I sowed back at the beginning of June have grown into strong plants and have been planted out into the garden, I actually had more than I expected and a few are in pots.  The birds have also been helping to grow sunflowers and I had two spring up that are doing really well, other smaller ones have been eaten by the slugs and snails.  To help with this issue I ‘collected’ the snails that I could find and took them on vacation; out into the field! 

What I have noticed about the garden is the section by the pond is in a lot more shaded than I initially thought it would be, this could be part of the reason why there is very little growth occurring there.  Next year I either need to sow plants earlier or I need to make sure that only shade loving plants are put there.  I’m not sure what route to take yet, I want to see what they do during what’s left of the Summer/Autumn. 

I have also relocated all of the pots to one location in the garden, it makes them easier to water and also adds more greenery to the borderless sections.  I have a few plans for developing it further next year to add more flowering plants and already have a very small lavender that is destined for one of the currently empty pots! 

One of the things I like about working in the garden is the sense of achieving something. If it’s 10 mins looking after the tomatoes or 15 putting supports in for some of the flowers you can see what you have done. After a long day at work feeling like you have been wading through mud it’s nice to have a sense of achievement at the end of the day. 

My Patch – June 2018

So June’s blog is a little late! July’s will probably be a little later still! 

I have to say that I have spent a lot more time in the garden than I have out in the field because 1) the edge of the field was over grown and extremely difficult to walk around 2) the garden needed lots done to it 3) I’ve been working long hours at work and 4) 30 Days Wild happened 🙂

June 6th – I saw a Jay in the garden for the first time, it was a very fleeting visit but it was nice to see.  There are lots of fledgling birds about at the moment.  Starlings, great spotted woodpeckers, rooks and this evening I watched the house sparrows leaving their nest from under the roof tiles.  

June 11th – I heard the cuckoo again so he’s still here at the moment 🙂

June 12th – Seeing the slugs and snails have been making a meal out of the seedlings in the garden I decided they would be moving home, into the field! I found a brown garden snail and what I think is a white-lipped banded snail and a grey field slug – happy to be corrected if I’m wrong as I’ve not identified snails and slugs before! 

June 13th – I put the camera out last night to see how the fox is getting on in the field.  She’s still about and takes full advantage of any food that is put out for her 🙂

June 18th – For 30 Days Wild today I went out into the field to see what flowers were about, I found; Soft-brome grass, Corn Chamomile, Curled dock, Field Forget-me-not and of course Stinging nettles. 

June 25th – there was a Roe deer in the field first thing, a male.  I didn’t get a photo as only his antlers were visible in the rape!

June 26th – The cat showed his colours today – two dead birds, one juvenile robin and a blue tit.  There hasn’t been a ‘kill’ left on the doorstep for a while so not sure why its happened today.  

June 28th – Today I found my first Tiger Cranefly (Nephrotoma flavescens), I was looking at the plants in the raised beds and it caught my eye.  

June 29th – I was stood in the front garden and ‘something’ landed on a nearby tree – a Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus).  

I do seem to be writing about more insects this month; 30 Days Wild has started me looking for the smaller creatures in my patch and as I mentioned the field was a little difficult to get around so my attention diverted to what I could easily get too 🙂

I hadn’t heard the cuckoo since the 11th so I can only assume he’s left again for another year – safe travels little chap, hope to hear you again (and maybe see you!) next year…

Foxes in the garden

A friend has fox cubs that have started to visit their garden; so of course I HAD to go and see them.  I was told they turn up at dusk, so I made sure I was there by 20:30 and settled into a garden chair.  I was slightly surprised when a face appeared out of the hedgerow at 21:26.  This was quite a bit earlier than expected.  Initially there was only one cub, who stayed close to the hedgerow. 

He disappeared for a while and then I saw him sprint across the bottom of the garden, he worked his way round the back of the garage and was later spotted using the cat flap to get to the cat food in the shed!  The owner is now fully aware that it’s not the cat eating the cat food!!!

Another cub stuck his nose out, and then a second joined him, after a few minutes they ran off; there was some quiet barking from behind the hedgerow.  What we believe was the vixen wandered into the garden followed by one of the cubs, they moved off and out of the bottom of the garden.  In total there are three cubs and both parents.

I went back again a couple of days later – they are only cubs for a short while and I wanted to see them again before they go their separate ways.  They were a lot more wary tonight, I’m not sure why as I did exactly the same as the night before, the only difference being the cat that was wandering around a bit.  They did come out of the hedge but only slightly and didn’t hang around.  I retreated into the house and sat just inside the back door; they then ventured out further into the garden but didn’t stay about for long. 

I went back again the following night.  They were out in the field at the bottom of the garden.  There are often rabbits in the field so I guess it is a good hunting ground for them.  A dog fox walked across the field, we don’t think this is the father of the cubs, but what I did notice is that he doesn’t look quite right, his snout looks short? 

I guess he must be doing okay as he looks quite healthy but I’m not sure what would have caused it, I guess he could have been born like it. There were a lot of people out in their gardens which didn’t seem to bother them while they were in the field, but they didn’t come very far into the garden until it was dusk and I had retreated to the kitchen.  I guess it’s a good thing that they are wary of people as it will help them survive longer.  I don’t believe there are any hunts in the area thankfully and the parent foxes have been visiting this garden for a couple of years now and this is their second litter of cubs that we know of.    

30 Days Wild 2018 – Day 30

We have had hedgehogs visiting the garden for the last three years, I think we have three in total but we only ever see two at the same time.  They vary in size and that is why I think we have three.  Last night each hedgehog headed straight for the water bowls as soon as they entered the garden.  We have been filling them up each night, which is vitally important for them in this hot weather, what they don’t drink over night the birds have as reserve water until the bird bath is topped up in the morning.  

Last night we initially had one hedgehog show and then 15mins later a second turned up.  They didn’t get too close to each other but they didn’t argue.  There were two hedgehogs out the front of the house the other week that were barging each other around and making a lot of noise!  For some reason last night they both ran off at the same time in the same direction, I hove no idea why as nothing showed up on the camera.  We do have a lot of cats who use the garden as a corridor, they generally just pass thought and don’t stop.  Both hedgehogs did return not long after though.   

We know that at least one of the hedgehogs gets to the garden from the road side of the house, we generally know when it arrives as our house rabbit sits and listens, facing the wall it walks next to! the other looks like it comes from the back of the garden through the fence. 

30 Days Wild 2018 – Day 29

A few weeks ago I noticed the Oxeye daisy’s at work were in flower. They come up every year and their numbers are strong.


Today I went to see if they had gone over. Many of them had so I broke off two flower heads, thanked the plant and took them home. I plan to distribute the seeds in the garden next to my Patch (I have permission to do this) and also some along the road verge. They have recently cut the grasses that were happily growing, so I thought if a few flowers come up next year it would add to the variety of vegetation. If you don’t count the cow parsley there are actually no flowers growing in the verge at all, I’d like to slowly change this to try and help our pollinators 🙂

30 Days Wild 2018 – Day 28

When leaving work tonight I found this cockchafer (Melolontha melolontha) in the road.  I have never seen one before but managed to identify it from images I have seen on Twitter.  I learn a lot of plants and insects from other peoples Tweets 🙂  I took a quick picture and then tried to move it, only to realise it was not moving at all and never would again.  I picked it up off of the floor and brought it home.  Normally we get such fleeting glances of insects as they fly by that I thought I would take the opportunity to have a closer look.

Cockchafer are common in the UK and are also know as the May-bug.  They typically appear late April to early May and live for around 6 weeks.  Eggs are laid around June – July, the grubs then feed on roots and tubers for about 3 years until they are about 4cm.  They pupate and emerge as adults in spring.  Their numbers decreased in the 20th century due to pesticide use but their numbers have been bouncing back since the 1980’s with the regulations of pesticide.

30 Days Wild 2018 – Day 27

Well today was just a write off really!  My car decided that it no longer wanted to start, the ignition just didn’t want to turn.  I did what it said online to try and release it but no to avail.  I had to call the RAC.  They were very helpful and the man turned up within the target time they gave me.  He managed to get the key to turn, he did the same as what I did but with more force – I was scared of breaking it further – but he had obviously encountered this problem on many occasions before and knew what he was doing  The car is now in the garage waiting for replacement part!  Nothing like starting the day with a bill of a few hundred pounds!

As my day was rather eventful! I didn’t get to do what I had planned for today which was check on the local badgers 🙁  I did however sit and watch the sunset tonight for a little while after watering the garden.  I could hear a hedgehog rustling in the vegetation ☺

30 Days Wild 2018 – Day 26

Today’s 30 Days Wild isn’t quite so nice as all the rest.  This morning when I got to the house next to my patch I found a baby robin by the door (I don’t think it had fledged but could be wrong), with a pleased looking cat sat next to it!  

Now normally if he decides to catch anything its mice and rats.  He was a stray that has made himself a home as a farm cat.  After I had told the cat off – not that he listened, I took the robin and buried it in the garden.  I didn’t fancy letting him eat it.  I then noticed him looking in the flower bed at the front of the house and discovered the head and wings of a blue tit!!  He is not in my good books.  I don’t like the fact that he has killed two birds, but I can’t tell him off to severely.  Finally after 8 years he has just plucked up the courage to let people within 2 feet of him and I can actually stroke him now, which with him getting older can only be an advantage.  He is a nice cat, except the bird/mice/rat catching aspect! I’m hoping he doesn’t catch anymore anytime soon.  

I don’t like to think about all the animals he has caught over the years. I guess he does generally eat his prey so in a way it was / is survival instinct for him, but he gets fed, so generally he doesn’t have a need to eat extra items. In the last year another cat has decided to make his home there too. He is very friendly and to our knowledge is too lazy to catch prey, he just shouts at humans for food instead! 

It’s estimated by the Mammal Society that 55 million birds are killed by cats each year! To me that seems like a huge number, especially when so many of our bird species are in decline.  There is however no evidence to show that cats are causing a reduction in numbers as some of the species with the most intense declines would not have a lot of contact with cats.  However any species that already has pressure put on it with loss of habitats for example do not really need added pressure from our feline friends.   

The RSPB suggest putting collars on cats to alert prey to their presence. That has been tried with the friendly cat as he can be picked up, but he hates the collar. He walks backwards to try and take it off when it’s put on, so there is no way he will wear it! and the main prey catcher – well unfortunately I don’t think he will ever be tame enough to even try to put a collar on him. 

30 Days Wild 2018 – Day 25

This evening I went with a friend to Bampton Cemetery in Oxfordshire.  They visited a grave while I had a look around the Cemetery.  Filling the watering can was a slow process, the tap produced no more than a dribble. While I was stood waiting for the can to fill, I noticed the ivy that is making its way up the tree by the tap, a robin briefly sat on the wall then quickly flew off once it had noticed me.  Walking back along to the grave I noticed that the horse-chestnut tree has leaf-mining moth damage (you can record this data via an app called Leaf watch where the results are submitted to the Conker Tree Science project).  I recorded this tree last year with roughly the same amount of damage.

I noticed that it also had conkers starting to form.  The squirrels that live there like the conker tree, however they also like that my friend leaves them a pile of hazelnuts when he visits.  They have in the winter traded conkers for hazelnuts! Leaving him the conker and running of with the hazelnut, they are quite friendly in winter! 

There are quite a few birds in the area.  The blackbirds were eating the fruit off of what I think is a Japanese Crab tree and I managed to get a single photo of the song thrush before a passer-by scared it off.  There were blue tits and chaffinches in the branches of the trees and woodpigeons grazing among the grave stones.  

30 Days Wild 2018 – Day 24

I had lots of tasks to do today which meant I didn’t have a lot of time free to do much wild.  One thing I do everyday that is important, is watering the birds! 


We have one full sized bird bath and 2 small ‘poppy’s’ which are also filled with water that the smaller birds often use, especially when the pigeons are in the garden.  It is important for birds to have access to water all year round but when its especially hot (22°C here at the moment) the water evaporates quickly so its important to keep an eye on the water level and refresh it as often as needed.  Although I didn’t get any pictures earlier, we had goldfinches having a drink and blue tits having a bath.  The doves turned up late this afternoon for a drink.