My Patch – April 2019

April 3rd – This morning in the garden there were two robins, long-tailed tits and the starlings were clicking up on the roof.  

April 10th – some late afternoon sun brought out the bees and a 7-spot ladybird.  Unfortunately I didn’t get very clear photos of the bees so not sure which ones they were!  I still find them confusing.


April 11th – This evening I got a chance to take a short walk around the field.  The male fallow deer were located out in the centre of the field, I think they are starting to get used to me as they don’t react too much now.  I was hoping I would start to find some flowers in the field but its either too early or too many herbicides have been sprayed so they haven’t had a chance to develop yet.  I did find a lone lesser celandine.  In the garden there is a male goat willow tree, in the field down near next doors garden, is what I believe to be a female goat willow.  

The birds that nest around the house have been much more visible around their nest sites, the jackdaws are in the chimneys and the starlings are taking nesting material into the roof 🙂

There was a bee checking out holes in the garden wall this evening, it has taken me a while to figure out, but I have finally narrowed it down to being a hairy-footed flower bee.  The first one I have ever seen 🙂 

April 15th – this morning I found my first brimstone moth, just sat on the wall outside the front door!  

April 18th – Whilst tidying the raised bed I noticed all the small creatures starting to appear in the vegetation.  The first one I spotted was apion frumentarium, next up was a tiny dark bush-cricket (Pholidoptera griseoaptera) and then a clover mite.  My last discovery of the day was a phalangium opilio spider.  I had never seen any of them before so this evening I had to do some research into what they all were!

Now I seem to have missed the nesting season this year!  I don’t know how; has all just happened earlier this year? or have I just been occupied with  growing plants and missed it? today I saw a starling take food into his nest!  Tomorrow I aim to pay a little more attention and train my camera on the nest hole to see exactly what is going on.  

April 19th – The starlings are 100% feeding in the nests at the back of the house, I watched both parents visit one after the other.  They both had at least two items of food in their beaks.  

There were more 7-spot ladybirds in the garden this afternoon and an orange-tip butterfly landed on the garlic mustard 🙂

April 20th – today I was concentrating on concreting the patio, however I couldn’t miss the common frog that hopped out of a hole underneath the raised bed and off across the patio.  He had been disturb as I had put sand over the top of him as I was filling in a hole and I hadn’t seen him!  I moved him up next to the small pond so he could hide under the plants.  

April 21st – there was a moth on the window, a Lunar marbled brown (Drymonia ruficornis).  I got out in the field for a walk this morning.  I heard my first cuckoo of the year – it is so nice to know he has returned safely.  I didn’t notice a lot of other birds, I don’t know if it was because I seemed to be noticing the insects or they just didn’t seem to be about.  I did have a companion with me who does make more noise than me when walking so it could have been a factor!  I did hear a woodpecker drumming.  

Since I have been following #Wildflowerhour on Twitter my botanical skills have improved greatly.  It is nice to be able to identify my finds without now having to spend hours trying to figure out what they are!  I want to take note this year of what is growing in the field so that next year I might be able to add to the population by growing them from seed and planting them out.  Today I identified, ground-ivy, red dead-nettle, cuckooflower and garlic mustard in the copse.  I was pleased to see the amount of garlic mustard there was as I know in the copse it won’t be cut down when the crop is harvested, hopefully it also explains the orange-tips who were darting around close by.  I need to go for a wander amongst it to see what else is growing in there!  

The time I save not having to look up flowers is definitely spent on the insects and arachnids!  After a lot of work identifying (I hope correctly) I found; Helophilus pendulus, Cucumber spider, Corizus hyoscyami, nomada sp. unknown, Nursery Web Spider, notostira elongata, Eupeodes sp. unknown, Pied Shieldbug (Tritomegas bicolor) on host plant white dead-nettle, Yellow Dung Fly (Scathophaga stercoraria), Flesh Fly (Sarcophaga carnaria), what I think is a pterostichus cupreus eating a harpalus affinis, Peacock butterfly and my first Dark-edged Bee-fly (Bombylius major) of the year!

When walking back up past the copse the fallow deer appeared in front of us.  They decided that is was safe enough to run out of the copse and into the field stopping a safe distance away.  I like these types of encounters 🙂

April 24th – I’m sure I saw a swallow this evening; I don’t think I was imagining it but it was only a fleeting glimpse.  I happened to take a photo of the garlic mustard and only noticed afterwards that there is a orange-tip egg on it 🙂 I hope we have some more.  It is nice to know that all I am trying to do with the garden is helping some of the garden visitors.   

April 25th – The starling chicks at the front of the house have started calling – across the garden and the neighbouring house I think there are now three starling nests with calling chicks. 

April 29th – The field was being sprayed when I got there this evening; I assume with pesticides. The male fallow deer who were resting in the middle of the field didn’t move until the machinery was two runs away from them. They ran off but then stopped short of the copse, they eventually disappeared.  The starlings are still calling and I heard the cuckoo again this evening 🙂

 

My Patch – A Garden update: April 2019

This month I have concentrated on trying to get the garden into a tidier/cleaner state for the planting out of the flowers when they are ready.  It has meant a lot of work so other aspects have suffered a little! 

April 1st – the basil has started to grow 🙂

April 2nd – as it is meant to be frosty for the next few nights I thought I would leave my cowslips and garlic mustard outside to ‘chill’.  They are meant to have a period of cold to start germination so I thought it can’t do them any harm as they don’t seem to be doing anything anyway! I tidied a little more of the glasshouse and found another five terracotta pots I will be able to use.  They will all need a bit of a clean, I just need to work out if I have any shorter plants which I can put in them; probably birdsfoot trefoil and sweet williams.

April 8th – tonight I potted on some of the sweet pea, sunflowers and borage.  I know I should have probably potted on the sweet peas earlier but I wasn’t sure where to pot them on too!  I knew I needed a deeper pot, I still have more that need rescuing from their small trays.  

Last year I removed a purple/red coloured steamed plant from the raised bed as it was in the way of the bird feeder!  I put it in a pot as no one knew what it was – thanks to @porridgebrain on Twitter who posted an image of her peonies I discovered what it was! It is still alive! I have removed all of ‘weeds’ from its pot and moved it to a sunnier spot – I plan to put it back into the raised bed but in a more suitable location.  

April 9th – This evening I decided I needed to take some images of the garden before I started to tidy/clean.  It does look a bit of a mess and its starting to make me stressed!  I know gardening isn’t meant to create stress it is meant to reduce it, but when there is so much to do it gets a bit much.  

I also potted on more of the borage and removed the ‘weeds’ from all the pots in the left garden.  The mint looks much better now I can actually see it is growing; I think it will need to be re potted this year.

April 10th – I finished potting on all of the borage today; I think I should have potted them on when they were a little smaller.  I have 73 plants in total.  I was going to sow some more though I think that will probably be more than enough for this year! 

April 11th – my common fleabane has started to sprout 🙂

I have only just thought about taking photos of my seedlings so I know what they look like in future years – I hope the flowers will seed themselves in the garden so next year I need to know what they look like so I know what is growing!

April 12th – So today I jet washed the left side of the garden’s patio; it only took 10 hours!!

April 15th – the mint has started to grow 😊  I have sown more rudbeckia as for some reason it hasn’t germinated.  

April 16th – sowed red campion, tall marigolds (I collected seed form the garden last year so I don’t know exactly what they are!) and perennial flax seed which I also collected from the garden.  

April 18th – painted the left fence, ‘weeded’ the raised bed and one of the love-in-the-mist has sprouted.

April 19th – was also a busy day, I moved the garlic mustard from growning in the right hand patio to the raised bed in the hope that it will survive, jet washed the patio, looked at repairing the garage guttering so a water butt can be fitted; we had to remove one of the branches from the hazel tree as it had caused the guttering to break.  I also potted on 62 cornflowers, potted on the rest of the sweet peas and put up a bee hotel 🙂

April 20th – I concreted 90% of the right hand patio – it took all day!

April 24th – Potted on 37 cornflowers and  33 teasel, the marigolds, red campion and the new batch of cornflowers and rudbeckia have sprouted.  I wasn’t expecting the perennial flax to germinate but it is doing quite well.

April 25th – Potted on 36 teasel and 21 sunflowers.

April 26th – Tonight I tweeted a photo of a tiny daffodil looking flower that is located in one of the window boxes.  @Mark_Couper replied to let me know they are daffodils; a variety called ‘new baby’. At least now I know what to do with them when they are relocated out of the window box, as at the moment they are surrounded by ‘weeds’ and very little compost!  

April 27th – today I visited a nursery sale with my Mum.  We went last year; this year I was going with a list of what I wanted to buy.  I managed to find only one plant on my list echinacea, I did also buy martin’s spurge as I thought it would look nice against the green of the fence and also add some foliage in the winter as I believe it is evergreen.   

April 29th – tonight I concreted where my potted plants are going to go so I will be able to start moving them about later in the week.  It will be nice to know some are planted up and are ready to just grow!  I have a few large pots that I assume had shrubs delivered in them, the pots have been kept for years so I have started to utilise them.  They aren’t the most attractive; black with handles on the them but I intend to hide them behind the more ‘attractive’ pots!  Tonight I put some borage in one of them.  I have probably made a mistake when putting 3 plants in one pot as I have read they can grow rather large, I think it might just be trial and error this year!  I also thought I probably needed to plant out the Martin’s spurge as their roots were coming out of the bottom of the pots.  I know they will expand and fill the pot; maybe when they do they can be separated into two pots.  By potting the plants out it meant I had some more small pots I could then use for potting on the remaining sunflowers 🙂 

Also throughout this month… the strawberries, field forget-me-not, garlic mustard, red campion, lilac and choisya ternata have all started to flower 🙂 

So far this year; total number of plants grown from seed and potted on…
99 cornflowers
73 borage
27 sunflowers
69 teasel 

My Patch – A Garden update: March 2019

With the days getting slightly longer I feel like I have started to achieve some small things with the garden this month.  Its starting to take shape a little bit…

March 1st – this afternoon a couple of the daffodils and one of the crocus looks like they are nearly ready to flower 🙂 Some of the others though are just starting to show through the soil.  At least I will have plants at different stages of flower for the bees.  The seeds I ordered from Emorsgate have arrived 🙂 

March 5th – I cleared some space in the glasshouse.  Its rather an abandon structure where some of the occupants of the house store items that are no longer of use rather than disposing of them! Its amazing how much space you can create when you organise useful things and recycle unwanted boxes! 

March 6th – one of the daffodils in the front garden is flowering.  

March 8th – there appears to be a lot more cuckoo pint in the garden this year, both in the raised bed and in the ‘woodland’ area. 

March 11th – Last summer there was no garden waste bin at the patch, it had been decided by the owners that items can just be thrown over the fence and into the field!  Some of the items did break down, others which were more woody didn’t.  I managed to convince them that it really isn’t the best idea throwing everything over the fence, although some things are sort of okay!  This evening while I still had some light, I filled the newly emptied garden waste bin with items that are still lingering on the other side of the fence!  There is still a lot to remove but at least now the bin is being emptied every two weeks everything that cannot be put in the garden compost can now be collected. 

March 13th – In the week I bought two packs of greenhouse racking/shelving to put my seed trays on, tonight I put together one of them.  Thankfully it fits on the table okay and I think the other one will fit alongside it once some more of the items located in the glasshouse are taken to the tip.  I managed to sow my cowslip and rudbeckia seeds before it got too dark.    

March 14th – this evening I sowed some more seeds: sweet marjoram, sweet basil, borage, sweet peas, wild teasel and sunflowers.  I still have more to sow!

March 18th – this evening I cut back a rose that was, well, a little out of control, I think it is a climbing rose but there was only one stem and it was about 10 foot long!  I’ve cut it back to a bud point and hope to do something with it to control it a little.  I had a little wander around the garden and have noticed two of these growing in the garden.  

At the moment I’m not sure what it is, I guess I will have to wait for the leaves to unfurl to try and find out.  

I also found these, which I think are glory of the snow, I’m not sure where they came from as I haven’t planted them but they look very pretty in the raised bed and they are welcome flowers when there is very little else flowering at the moment.  I managed to sow three more trays of seed; garlic mustard, birdsfoot trefoil and ox-eye daisy. 

March 21st – I have assembled the second set of racking for the glasshouse. Tonight both cornflowers and common fleabane were sown.  I have a horrible feeling the racking is going to fill up rather quickly!  

March 22nd – The borage is sprouting eight days after sowing! 🙂

March 25th – This evening in the glasshouse I have 51 borage, 2 oxeye daisy, 7 sunflower, 36 birdsfoot trefoil, 2 rudbeckia and 30 sweet pea 🙂 now all I have to do is not kill them! 

March 26th – today I also have 4 Marjarom which have come up.

March 27th – after spending some of yesterday evening making newspaper pots, this evening I have potted on 41 sweet williams, I have also sowed mint, Italian parsley, thyme and love-in-a-mist.  I have now run out of seed trays! 

March 28th – potted on another 23 sweet williams – somehow I need to create more space in the glasshouse, I hope having another tidy next week might clear part of one of the other sides.  I now have some teasel and cornflowers which have come up.  The sweet peas are now about 1 inch tall!  I’ve never grown anything but sunflowers from seeds before so I’m rather pleased with what I have managed to grow so far 🙂

March 30th – I decided to ask Twitter what my mystery plant is which is growing in the raised bed, TimM kindly replied and said its a buddleja.  I guess because it is smaller than the ones I was gifted I just didn’t recognise it.  I also didn’t think I would find them growing in the garden!  From having none last year, this year I now have five!  

My Patch – March 2019

March 6th – This evening I spotted a moth on the kitchen window just as I was about to go home.  I stepped outside to have a closer look, once the light had come on I realised there were about 6 moths flying around and 9 on the window.  I quickly went to grab my camera to get a picture as I had no idea what type it was.  I found something in my insect book that looked similar; a common Quaker so I went online to see if I could find more images to clarify.  It wasn’t the right moth but there were also images of a small Quaker which I was 99% sure it was.  I posted my image on Twitter and @MothIDUK kindly confirmed my ID was correct.

Small Quaker generally live in deciduous woodland and are on the wing from March to April.  They feed on sallow blossom, which explains why there were so many in the garden – the goat willow is currently covered in catkins with their green/yellow pollen 🙂  The larvae feed in early summer on deciduous trees including willow so I will be looking closely at the tree later in the year to see if we have any larvae.  

March 11th – When I got to the field this morning I was told there were brown hares in the field but I would need to look out of one of the upstairs windows to see them.  One was led down and the other ran across the field as I was watching them.  I love seeing the hares as they are so secretive it is very special to see them.  

March 13th – there were 9 fallow deer on the far side of the field tonight. 

March 14th – there were 25 fallow deer in the middle of the field tonight.  I do worry about them as the white ones really do make the herd stand out! 

March 20th – there was a pheasant in the garden under the bird feeder! I have a feeling he may become a regular visitor! 

March 21st – tonight I went out to listen for tawny’s but again there were none.  Whilst I was listening I was also looking; for cellar slugs.  The RHS is looking for people to submit their sightings of yellow cellar and green cellar slugs to their iRecord recording page.  They are looking to find out which garden features may influence where the slugs are located.  I found 18 green cellar slugs but no yellow.  The yellow cellar slugs are in decline so any sightings are really important.  I’m going to try and complete a search once a month, the slugs are nocturnal so make you have a fully charged torch before heading out for this survey! 

I heard a noise and thought it could be a fox over the other side of the fence, stepping up onto the raised bed a bat flew over my head and was illuminated by my torch light 🙂 I discovered the noise I thought I heard, it was in fact in the garden, I think there is a hedgehog rustling around in the leaves.  I will have to put the trail camera out next week to find out for sure.  

March 22nd – the pheasant was back again this morning; I managed to get a very bad photo of him on my phone.   

March 25th – I wanted to walk around the field this evening as it was such a lovely evening, however the farmer was fertilizing! I walked along the track towards the copse.  I wanted to see if any flowers were growing.  I found one lesser celandine and some leaves that indicated that there are others that may have already flowered.  There are some cuckoo-pint leaves and some leafy sections although at present I’m not sure what plants they are.  There will be lots common nettles again this year which will benefit the insects.  I don’t believe the copse is managed in anyway and I can only assume that the lack of varying vegetation is due to the deer who probably eat it.  There are tiny saplings growing, I’m not sure which trees they are so I need to have a closer look.     

March 27th – this morning the blue and great tits were not on the feeders but looking around the shed roof and the leaves of the newly sprouting roses for more natural food sources.  There is now a pile of twigs underneath the jackdaws regular nest site so I can only assume they are refurbishing their nest, especially seeing there is a twig sticking out of the entrance hole – its looks like they have got it well and truly stuck! The twigs that have fallen on the garden floor from the goat willow have been left for them to use if they wish. 

Tonight we put up two new nest boxes in the field near the house.  I am hoping we have some sparrows nest in them, but I would be happy with anyone using them to be honest.  I may have to spend some time sat in the field just watching the boxes to see if there is any activity. 

I put the trail camera out facing the wren/robin box on the side of the house, it was triggered, although I only had footage of the box with nobody entering or leaving it!  I’m guessing the trail camera won’t be much help at that nest!  

My Patch – A Garden update: February 2019

As January ended in light snow, February began with a thick covering, approx 8cms!  Now the weather forecasters hadn’t predicted that much, so I was very pleased I moved all the pots into the glasshouse! 

February 8th – The first batch of daffodils planted are now doing really well and have been joined by the crocus’ which were put in pots.  In the raised bed the snowdrops are in full flower and the hellebore that no-one has ever seen flower is showing nicely 🙂  

February 15th – more plants are starting to emerge in the ‘woodland’ area, snowdrops, cuckoo pint, what I think are bluebells, the crocus’ I planted and also the first lesser celandine I have seen this year.   Its the part of the garden which has received the least attention and it seems to be happily developing on its own.  The buds on the goat willow tree are beginning to open. 

February 17th – my sweet william’s need potting on again so today for the first time I made some newspaper pots!  They are so easy to make and seem to function well enough.  I have only made 15 so far as I want to see how well they are doing in a couple of weeks time before I make more and pot the rest of the plants on.   

February 19th – I had a short window of light after work today so I pruned the climbing rose on the right hand side of the shed.  I still need to get more wire attached to the wall but the rose is ready to be attached once it is done. 

February 22nd – I had today off of work with the sole purpose of cutting back the hawthorn hedge. 

Now I would have just taken a bit off of the top but two out of the three people that live there wanted it cut down to the top of the fence!  I didn’t get the whole of the hedge finished as I needed some assistance cutting the thicker branches with loppers, as the loppers kept breaking!  What I did manage to achieve was saving the hedge from being hacked off with a chainsaw and cut to the same height as last year.  I have cut the tallest branches to a few inches higher than last year, cut the thinner branches back to bud points and managed to save the side of the hedge which faces the field from being cut at all! – normally it gets hacked away so the top of the hedge can be reached!  I do however think the best option for the hedge is for it to be layed.  It has been cut back so much that the main growth doesn’t actually start until about 3-4 foot up the main trunk.  I am hoping that it thickens this year but I’m not holding out too much hope 🙁

While having a break from cutting the hedge I noticed flowers starting to open on the Lily of the Valley bush, just in time for some of the insects who have started to appear in the garden.

February 24th – today I ordered my wildflower seeds from Emorsgate Seeds 🙂

February 26th – tonight we put up another nest box, hopefully they will like the location – the guttering needs fixing and a water butt fitting to it! 

My Patch – February 2019

February 1st – I managed to get to work in all the snow and at lunch they decided to send everyone home.  Of course I didn’t go home I went straight to the patch – I wasn’t going to miss using ‘free time’ to check out what’s going on even if it was snowing!  I headed out and over by the copse found deer tracks and found a robin in the brambles.  I really liked the monotone colour of the field with the snow falling the carrion crow added to the artistic feel.  There were not that many birds on the ground though I did hear a buzzard and overhead 8 lapwing, a black-headed gull and a cormorant all flew over while I was out.  I was looking at the trees when a small movement caught my eye, a wren was at the base of tree trunk looking for food in the little bits of ground there where not covered in snow.   

Once back at the house I sat and watched the birds on the feeders: 2 blue tits, 1 great tit, 5 starlings, 1 robin and one bird that made me look twice – a reed bunting!  I have never seen one in the field or the garden before so it took me a while to recognise it as I just didn’t expect to see one.     

February 2nd – Today was a beautifully sunny day.  I had to go out in the field as we don’t get many days like this a year!  The only footprints in the field were mine, fallow deer, fox, brown hare and rabbit. No other humans had been there.  It’s good to know the creatures of the field don’t get a lot of disturbance.  I know people walk down by the river as there are sometimes dog walkers but generally they only seem to be there at weekends. When I reached the copse I could hear a redwing calling, I finally located it at the top of the trees in the hedgerow just opposite.  

I walked along my normal route down the side of the copse what I hasn’t notice when i walked across the field was the fallow deer led down along the side of the trees, they were really well camouflaged against the brown of the tree trunks.  I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to find them there as they were in the same location where I had noticed the snow had been disturbed yesterday.  

I didn’t want to disturb them so I walked in the next field over on the other side of the copse.  The sun shining through the trees looked really pretty.  It was hard work walking down to the river as the snow seemed to be deep on this side of the trees, in some places it was half way up my calves!  

As I reached the river I noticed three cormorants sat in one of the trees further downstream.  I wouldn’t have normally seen them as I wasn’t technically in my patch.  I have seen the odd one fly overhead so its nice to know there is more than one passing through.  There were lots of hoof prints down by the river, the deer must use the copse to get to the river to drink.  It is actually really useful to go out in the snow when no other humans have been about as the animal tracks have given me a much better idea of how they use the features of the field.  

I haven’t really got to grips with the river yet and this summer I would like to spend some more time there (though I might need to tame some of the vegetation so I can actually see the river!).  I heard a moorhen, saw a blue tit on one of the trees, two pairs of mallard swam by and four long-tailed tit worked their way along the bank from tree to tree.  There are large gaps between each tree so maybe there needs to be a couple of extras added for them.  I felt like a rabbit at one point as shadows moving along the ground caught my eye, thankfully in my case it didn’t mean danger just two grey heron flying over.

I decided to walk all the way around the field so not to disturb the deer on my walk back to the car.  It looks as though they generally only venture to the copse, the river and the ‘island’ which I believe was a meander in the river which had been altered to straighten the river once more.  I do however think this could also be the reason the river bank is eroding and the trees are leaning in the river as they loose their stable ground.  According to the land owner the river is much wider now than it was when he was a child.  

As I walked along the far edge I noticed fox prints, there were more towards the barn and I think it may have caught something as the snow was all scuffed up but there were not any signs of what it might have caught.  It looks like it could have been hiding in the hedge and pounced out.  I noticed a bird box on one of the trees which I haven’t seen before, they have cleared the ditch so I guess that’s why it’s visible now.  I wanted to check to see if had been used but I don’t know who has put it there and didn’t want to interfere.  One of the trees was old enough, to be large enough, for me to stand against its trunk, I liked the shadow the sun was casting of it on the snow.  

I had reached the barn but had to be conscious of the deer that were still relaxing on the other side of the field.  I didn’t want to spook them so moved slowly and stopped regularly to check on them and take more photos 🙂 

February 14th – 20:25 no owls heard – none heard all week

February 17th – The swans have returned 🙂 There were three in the field down by the river. I wonder if they will stay; there were numerous feeding on the crop shoots last year. 

This evening I cleaned out all of the nest boxes ready for this season.  I know last year a great tit started to build a nest in the starling box, what I hadn’t realised was it made a full nest; I don’t think it raised any young, though now I’m not sure and wonder if I missed the signs.  The sparrow terrace had a nest too!  Last year there were no signs of nesting in it at all and I was expecting to have to relocate it this year.  Seeing there has been some success all the boxes were put back in the same locations.  Fingers crossed for more nests this year…

February 22nd  – I spent the day in the garden cutting back the hawthorn hedge.  The birds were not happy with me; a) because I was in the garden and they didn’t want to go to the bird feeder on the left side (their favourite feeder) and b) I was cutting down their favourite place to sit before they dart onto the feeder!  I have promised them that once the fence has been jet washed and painted I will make sure there are some shrubs in pots put next to the feeder that they can use as additional cover.  The great spotted woodpecker kept landing in the goat willow tree, then I noticed another land close by, they seemed to have a disagreement and one flew off.  If I sat quietly on the garden bench, one would come down and feed on the feeders a few meters away.  Later on I heard drumming in the distance.  I spotted my first 7-spot ladybird on one of the plants and a bumblebee was buzzing around but I didn’t manage to locate it to find out what it was.  

It does worry me that the insects are out already, that its going to be warm all weekend and it could possibly get cold again.  What worries me more is the majority of people don’t see this as worrying.  Colleagues at work were talking about how nice the weekend was going to be and that soon they will be able to get the BBQ’s out etc, I mentioned the insects and they sort of went quiet (I often feel like the odd girl in the corner that doesn’t talk about normal things!).  A couple of people engage with talking about their gardens and planting some flowers for the insects – a couple is better than none.

I know there is a lot more in the news about the issues we face but I’m not sure people really see what’s going on around them or how everything interacts – I guess they just aren’t interested.  I managed to convince my office to be more aware about crisp packets; to collect all their empty packets so they can be sent off for recycling.  I was known as the ‘girl collecting crisp packets’ for a while after my office manager agreed I could have a box behind my desk for them, but now people from other departments sometime drop off used packets too!  In my mind any packet collected is better than it ending up in landfill.  I’m just not sure how we convince everyone to care about it!  I think they have to see the effects with their own eyes to understand how it actually effects them.   

February 25th – 19:55 no owls – none heard all week

February 27th – there were 19 fallow deer in the field at sunset.  The long-tailed tits wanted to get to the fat balls to feed, they weren’t happy I was stood in the way watching the deer, they were shouting at me from the hazel tree, I moved so they could feed.  Two tree sparrows were following each other through the jasmine looking for bugs, they flew off together, I hope they find one of the nest boxes nearby, though last year some did nest in the roof space just above the jasmine so fingers crossed.  

The mute swans didn’t stayed longer than a couple of days, hopefully they will come back when the crop is more suitable for eating!

My Patch – A Garden update: January 2019

I know everyone says January is the best time to plan your garden for the year because you are looking at it in is barest form.  I think I have a plan for this year, well I hope I do!  I want to try and expand on last years plans and have more flowers and wildflowers in the garden. I have a plan of growing all the plants in trays to start with as I don’t feel they did very well sowing directly onto the raised bed last year, though I might be proven wrong and end up with no plants at all!  This year I also want to grow sunflowers and rudbeckia again but I might put most of the rudbeckia in pots so they don’t take over the beds which aren’t really wide enough.  I plan to have lots more pots in general so I can distribute more flowers to different areas of the garden patio and overall increase the number of plants for the insects.  Again this is all going to be trial and error and I will be making notes as I go so I can adjust next years plan to be more effective again.  

January 1st – I potted on some of the sweet williams into larger pots as they are growing well. 

January 11th – one of the snowdrops is flowering in the garden 🙂 the rest are still really just emerging.  The one which is in flower wasn’t moved last April so I guess it is more established than the rest.  The first batch of daffodils I planted in pots are starting to show and the Cuckoo pint has just started to come through.  

January 18th – I cut back the leaves of the hellebore as I heard on ‘The Garden Log’ podcast that he had been cutting his back.  I like to listen to it when I’m at work as it brightens up my day 🙂 I also started to prune one of the climbing roses which is on the shed, it still needs a bit more work done to it and also needs to be tied back into the wall, though I need to attach more wire to the wall first.  I hope with the roses having a bit more attention this year they will cover the wall more effectively.  

January 31st – As the weather forecast had predicted snow I decided it would be wise to move all the pots I had in the garden into the glasshouse for a little protection.  I’ve not dealt with snow and plants before so everything that was small enough to be moved was!  I think they all appreciated it! 

Compost Bin – it is slowly starting to look a little like compost at the bottom but I have figured out it isn’t being turned often enough.  Part of the problem is I can put the fork down into the bin, I am just too short to be able to actually turn it!  I always have to ask for help!  It was being turned once a week, it was upped half way through the month to twice a week but I think really it should be being turned each day!  A lot of vegetable peelings are added each week, I’m actually thinking of getting another bin so new matter can be put in a separately bin to allow the current one break down fully.  

I am looking forward to next month as it starts to become lighter and I can start to spend short amounts of time after work in the garden – the lists of tasks to complete is growing daily! 

My Patch – January 2019

I was trying my best to keep my blog posts up to date this year, however, I have already fallen behind!  Work has had some changes that haven’t been for the better, so I have been struggling quite a lot with the day to day and not had any motivation to write anything 🙁 The darkness of the evenings hasn’t helped very much either.  I’ve not been able to have much time off from work, so I have only got to go out briefly on one afternoon.  

January 18th – I had the afternoon off work to have a walk around the patch, however it didn’t really go to plan!  To start with I had to remove the remains of a spruce tree from the field.  The land owners brother, although told not to, decided to dump in the field what he couldn’t fit in the trailer to take to the recycling centre!  I spent about an hour moving everything he had moved, back round to the house and put it in the so called full trailer!  I knew there was quite a bit there but I didn’t expect to have to drag half a tree down the road!  I’m not very big so it must have been quite a sight!   The vegetation underneath the debris I had moved from the field was yellow from the lack of light, at least now I hope it will recover.  A blackbird was thankful I had moved it as he had found insects to eat in the vegetation.  

The remaining time I had left before sunset I was going to be spent looking at the vegetation in the field, but the hunter was seen going down the track so I couldn’t go far.   He’s not allowed to shoot in the field but he can in the field and the copse next to it, so any stray bullets could be disastrous!  I did take a short walk next to the house; the rabbits have been busy digging new burrows of which they will try and kill me with in the summer when they are covered over with nettles and grass!  Its good to know that they are still there after their burrows were disturbed when the ditch was re-dug. 

There is vegetation, but to me it is currently unrecognisable as it is all leaves – I’m not that good at identification yet!  I was hoping to find at least one plant in flower, but no, nothing in the area that I walked.  I did find some lichen on one of the trees, its not something I have looked at yet in the field but is something I should be looking at more this year – it might mean I need another new book! I think this one is yellow wall lichen but I could be wrong! 

The garden birds are still very present, I saw; chaffinch, robin, blue tit, great tit, collard dove, starling, house sparrow and jackdaws this afternoon.

BTO tawny owl survey update: 
January 9th 19:40 no owls heard – none heard all week
January 16th 20:15 no owls heard – none heard all week
January 22nd 19:15 no owls heard – none heard all week
January 31st 19:40 no owls heard – none heard all week
I really hope I hear one again soon!

My Patch – A Garden update: November & December 2018

I thought I would combine November and December’s garden updates due to Winter being a quiet time in the garden…

November

This year I concentrated on the right hand side of the garden and rather neglected the left.  The left side consists of no beds at all; there is a whitebeam tree planted in the patio and a few pots containing, mint, rosemary, Penstemon ‘Pensham Plum Jerkum’ and Choisya ternata.   There are bird feeders and a bird bath, the birds always feed from the feeder on the left side first.  I think this is because of the extra cover the whitebeam tree and next doors hazel provide.  On the other side of the fence there is also hawthorn hedge that I am yet to cut back as I have read they should be cut once dormant and that is in mid-Winter; the birds like it for darting up into when they get spooked.  

December

I have done some ‘tidying’ of the garden.  The tomato canes have now been taken down and stored in the greenhouse.  I discovered two hazelnut saplings in the raised bed so they have now been transplanted to a large pot.

I have collected all the leaves and put them in an old water butt that has a leak so they can decompose / be added to the compost bin as required.  I have ‘weeded’ the raised beds, pruned the roses and planted daffodil bulbs in pots for spring – there will be more flowers in the garden next Spring than there was this and hopefully they will help support the early emerging insects 🙂 I have sown yellow rattle and lady’s bedstraw in the garden and found a buddlea in the bed which has been relocated to a pot.  I have found more pots, some of which I have washed, but there are still lots to do.

I have been given two very small buddleia by my Auntie as she had a few that self seeded in the garden.  I have decided that they should be kept in pots as I don’t have a lot of bed space! When they are big enough they are going to live on the left side of the garden.     

I have been looking at some wildflower seeds to order for next year:
Borage – The flowers replenish their nectar regularly so they are great for the bees and other pollinators.
Birdsfoot trefoil – is the burnet moth’s principle food plant, I have no idea if we have any burnet moth in the area but I am willing to provide them food 😉
Garlic Mustard – to encourage orange-tip butterflies
Cornflower
Red Campion
Wild teasel – as they are popular sources of pollen in the summer and when they got to seed the birds will like them too 🙂

What I also want to do is take a look at the insects that I have photographed in the garden this year and find out what their principle food plant is, I can then help them by planting more of what they like.  So far I have researched…

Small Magpie moth – stinging nettles, less often mint and other labiates – we have mint and lots of stinging nettles in the field.

Mother-of-Pearl moth – Stinging nettles

Buff-tip caterpillar –  Deciduous trees; most frequently on sallows, birches, oaks and Hazel (Corylus avellana) – there is hazel in the garden J 

Red admiral – common nettle

Green-brindled crescent moth – caterpillars feed on a variety of trees and bushes, including hawthorn and blackthorn.  There is plenty of hawthorn and some blackthorn in the hedgerows of the field 🙂

Mint moth –  caterpillars feed on various Labiatae – we have Mint in the garden but I plan on sowing more.

Although I have been looking at what I can plant in the garden, I hope to also plant some of the wild flowers I grow in a small patch in the field / road verge. I will be buying them from Emorsgate Seeds so their origin can be traced to sustainable UK sources 🙂 If anyone has any suggestions of other wild flowers I should definitely grow please let me know in the comments or via Twitter. Thanks 🙂  

My Patch – November & December 2018

I haven’t really had that many observations of the field in November and December. The lack of light since the clocks have changed has really been the biggest factor but I have also been having a tough time at work and spent a lot of time trying to problem solve issues that no one else is interested in solving. My attention had unfortunately been somewhere else…. 

November

November 13th – 3 deer were in the field this morning 🙂

November 19th – There were more fallow deer in the field this morning.  Now last month I said I had not knowingly seen fallow deer in the field before.  I was originally told by the owner of the field that they get roe deer so I believed them.  Well that was my first mistake!  I have looked carefully today at the differences between roe and fallow and I believe that the deer in the field have always been fallow! – well all the ones I have photos of anyway!  So I now feel I need to write a disclaimer that all of my ‘patch’ blogs / Tweets before this date have probably got the wrong identification of roe deer.  Yes I feel rather stupid, but I guess on the upside no one has corrected me so no one else has noticed either – I bet you will be looking closer from now on! – so will I!!!   

November 22nd – Tonight I completed another BTO Tawny owl survey.  Unfortunately I didn’t hear any again; I haven’t heard any for a while now, though the owner of the field did say he heard them last weekend.  I will have to try and listen earlier in the evening, maybe 20:40 was a little late.   

November 25th – I heard 2 tawny’s calling tonight 🙂 its good to hear them again, I guess I just keep missing them when I carry out the BTO survey.

December 

December 11th – This morning there were redwing and fieldfare feeding on the hawthorn bushes. Thankfully I had already booked the day off work so I was able to spend some time watching them 🙂

Next year I plan on keeping an extensive list of everything I find in my ‘patch’.  I know this means I will have a lot more learning to do to make sure I log every plant, insect, spider etc that I can find!  I would like to change careers to working in conservation or ecology and hope learning from my patch will a be a stepping stone to gaining the knowledge I need to do so.