My Patch โ€“ 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…


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.  


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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰
Garlic Mustard – to encourage orange-tip butterflies
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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ If anyone has any suggestions of other wild flowers I should definitely grow please let me know in the comments or via Twitter. Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚  

My Patch โ€“ 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 13th – 3 deer were in the field this morning ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ its good to hear them again, I guess I just keep missing them when I carry out the BTO survey.


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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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.  

My Patch โ€“ A Garden update: October 2018

The garden has certainly started to die back, there are still some plants holding on and as of October 23rd there are still, rudbeckia, cosmos, cornflowers and a yellow flowered plant (I have no idea what it is!) still in flower, and in some cases in bud!  This month I have been thinking about next spring and what I perhaps need to start doing now…

October 7th – I potted on half of the sweet williams, as they were looking a little compact! I ran out of seed trays and peat free compost! I wasnโ€™t expected quite so many of them to germinate, I think Iโ€™ll be giving a quite few of them away next spring!

October 10th – I collected more seeds from the flowers that are slowly going over. I have been collecting seeds when I notice them and just putting them in envelopes to dry. Tonight I sorted them out properly and they are now labelled correctly. Some however I have no idea what they are, not because I have forgotten what the seeds are, but more the fact I had no idea what the flower was to start with. They are still on the to be identified list from the summer!

October 11th – There are still a lot of โ€˜weedsโ€™ appearing in the raised beds so I removed a few this evening while I still had enough light, I would like them all removed so they donโ€™t re appear next year!

I turned the compost tonight, well, I turned some of it!  Iโ€™m a bit short to reach the bottom of the bin so will have to ask someone a bit taller to do it for me! I think itโ€™s going okay, Iโ€™ve never had a compost bin before so itโ€™s a wait and see experiment. Itโ€™s had lots of material added to it, though I think it could do with some more leaves as itโ€™s all been quite green at present. 

October 16th – We put up an RSPB diamond nest box on the wall where much of the Jasmine has been removed.  Earlier in the year fledgling wren’s were seen there so I thought a box should be put up for them to roost in over winter just in case they used the Jasmine last year.  I have seen birds leave the leafy part of the Jasmine so I hope they like it.  

October 20th – I potted on the rest of the sweet williams ๐Ÿ™‚ 

October 22nd – Iโ€™ve planted some crocus in the โ€˜woodlandโ€™ area.  The snowdrops that I moved in April are growing – I only know this as I accidentally dug a few up when making holes for the crocus! They were quickly put back in. I think I need some bulb markers!

October 23rd – I sowed 3 sweet chestnuts seeds in a pot. I figure it is worth a try, if they germinate then I will have trees to plant out in a few years ๐Ÿ™‚  

My Patch โ€“ October 2018

October 10th – this evening I rescued a lesser yellow underwing moth from a spiders web; it had lost a leg but flew off.  I know I should leave pray in webs but this web looked abandoned so thought it was only fair to rescue it. 

October 15th – 19:50 a tawny hooted. There is definitely a male and female about, there was definitely both parts of the call together later in the evening ๐Ÿ™‚

October 16th – The tawny was calling again ๐Ÿ˜‰

October 17th – The tawny was calling again ๐Ÿ™‚

October 18th – Three fallow deer walked across the middle of the field this morning. One stag and two doe.  Now I haven’t knowingly seen fallow deer here before so it was a bit of a surprise.  I managed to take a rather bad photo through the window (which needs cleaning, the pesky birds have made it dirty!). 

This evening 93 gulls  were out in the field feeding.  A buzzard flew into a nearby tree and then flew off again, another buzzard was in the distance. I had mainly headed out into the field to look at the ditch now it has been finished.  I know all the ditches round here have been cleared, and all the vegetation which was in front of them has gone.  What I didn’t expect to find was the fence around the edge of the field has also been pulled down and just left where is lays!  I have no idea if anyone is going to put it back up but I’m guessing not! Any trees that were dug out have been burnt and now there are charred tree trunks just led on the margin of the field.  It looks a bit of a mess!  

Tonight I started my ‘heard an owl survey’ at 20:07 – I didnโ€™t hear any in the 20 minutes slot but half an hour later they were calling ๐Ÿ™‚

October 22nd – This afternoon there was a European hornet feeding on the bananas that had been left out for the butterflies. Itโ€™s the first one Iโ€™ve seen, I recorded it via the Asian hornet watch app.

October 23rd – There was a moth discovered in one of the bedrooms so I was called rescue it –  a green-brindled crescent. 

October 25th – It was a foggy start today with the temperature being 3.5C, winter is starting to be more noticeable. 

October 31st – this morning there was a light frost across the field…

My Patch โ€“ September 2018

September 5th – I spotted a common frog in the garden tonight but didn’t manage to get a photo.  House martin’s and some unidentified geese flew over the field.

September 7th – there were rabbit’s in the field this morning.  It is so rare I actually see them that it is so nice when I do. 

September 10th – all of the hedgerows are being cut back as the ditches are being cleared and piping put in ready for the winter.  It looks very bare where everything is being removed ๐Ÿ™

September 13th – this evening there was a common wasp on the ivy flowers at the front of the house.  Its lovely to see them using the ivy, I have made sure that no one has cut it back!   

September 16th – finally a picture of the common frog who has been using the back garden.  I must start wandering around in the garden after dark more… I found a brown garden snail eating the blackberries I had relocated for the birds, who have unfortunately ignored them.  At least someone was making the most of them! 

September 17th – I took a walk into the field this evening to look at the hedgerow and the ditch that they have dug out.  What I wasnโ€™t expecting to find was quite so much rubbish!  There are loads of plastic bags, traffic cone parts, bits of metal fencing etc I will have to start to pick it all up before the field is planted again! I don’t think the contractor who dug the ditch is coming back to do it!  The rabbits still have burrows, though, I think they would have had to dug themselves out as their original entrance holes were mainly covered over.  When I reached the copse a roe deer appeared from around the corner.  I didn’t take a ‘proper’ camera with me as I was only going to look at the hedge!  At sunset about 40 geese flew over in 3 separate batches.

Tonight I heard a tawny twooing – I have now signed up for the BTO’s ‘tawny owl calling survey’.  All you have to do is listen once a week between September 30th and March 31st for 20 minutes  a week and record if you hear a tawny or not. You don’t have to listen every week if you don’t have the time, but a minimum of six records is recommended – you don’t even have to leave your house if you don’t want to, you can listen with a window open! Check out more information and how to sign up HERE 

September 20th – this evening there were martins swirling in the wind over the garden, it makes me happy and sad at the same time knowing that they will be leaving us soon.

September 23rd – this evening there was a common toad in the garden, I think it lives under the step to the back door.

September 27th – it is starting to feel more like Autumn, there was a mist over the field this morning.  This afternoon I found a rove beetle near the bird feeders. 

My Patch โ€“ A Garden update: August & September 2018


I like how the garden looks in summer but the amount of patio is starting disturb me!  There just seems to be so much of it which is not covered in greenery! Seeing this is only one half of the garden and the other half is all patio I find it even more disturbing! 

I was hoping by the end of August the patio will have been concreted – since it was cleaned there are now huge gaps in between the slabs that concern me, they are more than big enough for a hedgehogs leg to fall down!  However I have only managed to complete half of it  and unfortunately I don’t think the rest of it will be done this year!  

I have found some of the taller plants have needed to be staked up this month as they have been falling over onto the shorter ones.  The method I have used this time is to just put a cane at the back of the plant and use some twine to wrap around the plant to hold it up.  I might have to look for a better method for next year.  I have removed some of the leafy weeds that have been taking over the garden, I don’t have any idea what they are but they have gone as they just seem to be smothering everything else! 

August 1st – a small purple flower has been teasing me all summer, its either a bud or a seed head and its taken me ages to figure out what it is…well I think I know what it is… a perennial flax.

August 8th – I sometimes get a small helper in the garden!  He sits there looking grumpy until he gets cuddles and then thinks its helpful to use the raised bed as his bathroom facilities!! There’s a field behind that fence – why can’t he use that!!! 

August 14th – I have been around the garden this evening and deadheaded the roses.  I keep forgetting to do them so tonight they have all been cared for.  I have also been collecting some seeds from the plants that have been going over. 

August 21st – I’m rather pleased with the tomatoes, I have never grown them before and there seems to be loads of fruit forming on them ๐Ÿ™‚

August 27th – I have been gifted a couple of lavender plants, they will have to live in pots as there isn’t really any where for them to go in the garden but at least the pollinators will appreciate them when they have grown a bit bigger.

August 29th – I had to cut back some of the jasmine tonight.  It was on the list of things to do but the task had to be brought forward as the brother of my friend decided he didn’t like it dropping water on his head and took a chainsaw to it!  I was going to cut it back so that it would have the best chance at flowering again next year but I don’t really know how it is going to do now ๐Ÿ™

August 31st – I ordered a compost bin so I can make the most of the ‘waste’ from the garden ๐Ÿ™‚


September 2nd โ€“ Last month I sowed some Sweet Williams and they have sprouted ๐Ÿ™‚ 

September 10th โ€“ I cut back some more of the Jasmine, half of it has now gone! 

September 12th โ€“  I trimmed back the hedge at the front of the garden and collected up the fallen blackberries for the birds.  I removed most of the brambles from the front garden as they were running very wild and tangling themselves around everything, they were newly established so thought it was best to get them removed before they took over entirely! The ivy has started to flower ๐Ÿ™‚

September 17th โ€“ I’ve had to pulled up a few of the leafy โ€˜weedsโ€™ as they seem to have taken over again!  I really hope they aren’t so much of a problem next year! Also I have had to relocate some of the daffodil bulbs as a certain four legged creature has broken the pot they were in and dug them up! He wasn’t admitting responsibility!  

September 20th โ€“ I have been tidying up the jasmine by pulling out the wilting vines which we cut off the other week.  It still needs to be reduced and weaved into the arch way to make more of a feature out of it.  It has become obvious as it has been cut back that it has been winding its way into the cables for the house which has made it a little more difficult to deal with. It has however started to sprout at the base again so I am hoping that the new growth can be weaved into the trellis on the wall and then managed as it grows so it doesn’t become unmanageable again.     

September 27th – The jasmine was finally fully cut back tonight, I feel awful for it!  I just hope it does okay over winter and bounces back next year.

RSPB Ham wall – August 2018

I headed to RSPB Ham Wall over the August Bank Holiday weekend with a friend who wanted to try out a couple of cameras he had hired. I also had with me my new Sigma 150mm Macro 2.8, I had put it on my old Nikon D300 seeing I probably wouldnโ€™t need to crop into the images much.  Although we had gone to go bird watching we were also trying out new kit ๐Ÿ™‚    

We headed down to Tor hide; from previous visits we know it is a good place to spot bitterns!  There was a fair amount of activity, a marsh harrier, gadwall, great white egret, cormorant, swallow, little brown thing that flew between the reeds that I just saw out of the corner of my eye (I have no idea at all what it was!), black headed gull, moorhen, the Red Arrows flew over!, little grebe, and of course a bittern.  It took a very short flight over the reed beds, I was lucky to get a photo as by the time you had seen it, it was gone! 

After a few hours I walked back to the car park to use the facilities!  On the way I saw a mute swan and 4 cygnets and a little creature ran across the path.  I’m not sure who was most surprised, me or him, we both stopped, looked at each other briefly and he shot into the grass.  I think it was a vole but it was such a brief encounter I can’t be certain.  That will teach me for not taking my camera!

On the walk to the Avalon Hide I saw another vole! This one didn’t stop to look, he just shot across the path!  The hide wasnโ€™t too busy when we got there but people were very spread out, it became obvious after a while that people who were there together were taking up a window each rather than sitting together to allow others to sit down. Now I do see the value of a window each because it allows you more room, however, I have always moved to sit with a companion if others come in to sit down, I just see it as polite. We had to squeeze in a gap in between a window and someoneโ€™s scope because they were taking up two windows, they were sat a good few feet away from the windows and at an angle, it was a little odd, they didn’t even acknowledge we were there!  After a while of feeling rather uncomfortable we were able to move to a window that became available.  

There wasn’t a huge number of birds about but enough to keep us occupied: little egret, great white egret, mute swan, coot, house martin, cormorant, 4 marsh harriers at once and a sparrowhawk!  The lady sat next to me noticed it at the same time and we were debating on what it was at the time.  I think it took us both by surprise sat in the water by the reeds. 

With regards to my new lens, after a bit of testing I think it would work better on my D3s, the D300 just doesn’t seem to work properly with it, it didn’t seem to want to focus, it just wasn’t right.  I normally have a wide angle on the D3s so looks like I might have to do some switching of lenses while out in the field when necessary!  Not something I like to do if I can help it, I rather dislike cleaning camera sensors!