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It's definitely a wildlife garden!


I have always tried to garden for the wildlife, even before it became quite such an issue as it is now. It’s always been an excuse to leave the patches of nettles, log piles and flowerpot heaps, let alone the wildflower weeds!
Being brought up in the countryside we were used to banks of wildflowers along the lanes, both now gone, the lanes had the hedges removed and the banks either flattened or poisoned into non-existence. So nurturing wild flowers has been a memory thing as much as anything. The Bird’s eyes (Veronica persica) being a favourite from when I was very little. The common speedwell as it is, we were told that to pick it meant you were plucking the eyes from the birds! Good old country folk-lore, no problem with frightening the kids then! Here with the Scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis) and the ever present Self heal (prunella vulgaris) which lives up to it’s name and grows like a weed.

Amongst the wild bed of the garden which contains a few cultivated plants as well, like the Centaurea cornflower which is always spreading, some Buddleia and wonderful Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) desperately in need of staking, is the Lady’s bedstraw (Galium verum) which I grow with the hope that one day it will host the caterpillars of the Hummingbird hawk moth (Macroglossum stellatarum). Here mixed in with Linaria or purple toadflax which seeds itself everywhere. And some bindweed which needs no introduction!

Enough of the botanical lessons. When you want to encourage wildlife you really don’t then get the choice of what you attract, we feed hoards of Corvids every day, Rooks, Crows, Jackdaws, Magpies all come to feed from the chicken and peacock feeding trays, so much so that we are trying to vary the time we feed to discourage the lines of birds sitting on the overhead wires waiting, so much like the film ‘The Birds’! The Jackdaws are so nimble that they dangle from the feeders of peanuts and seed, knocking some to the ground where more are waiting. Not much chance for the grass to grow where it was seeded after the pond renovation.
Other ‘not particularly wanted’ are the rabbits in the front garden, though one turned out to be a Hare, which is much more interesting and I would probably let him eat some of the plants if he would stay! The rabbits not so much.
Mine will never be a show garden, the grass is full of clover, buttercup and self heal as well as the Potentilla reptans which creeps everywhere and lives up to it’s name of creeping cinquefoil. Also full of Voles as you can see from the lovely collection of holes, there are so many (holes and voles) that you can see the voles in daylight walking about the garden!

It does however mean we get visits from the Owls, Tawnys for the voles and Little Owls for the beetles and worms.
Another ground dweller who has taken up residence is the Mole. I always feel sorry for the moles and if they get this far, I usually leave them. Ploughing their way through the surrounding heavy clay fields somehow means to me that they need a respite in the softer woodchip which they seem to confine themselves to! Not much to see here, but there is a run which is raised and you find if you are not concentrating – ankle wringing stuff here what with the voles and now the mole.

Another vole hole, or perhaps it’s the mole again.

We also get Field mice (and rats in the winter, but we won’t talk about them!) not always where you want them, they climb up and into the bungalow roof where I am sad to say they get trapped. This one survived for another day when he fell out of the climbing Jasmine. A very quiet ‘plop’ while I was gardening showed me this little mouse who had fallen and was stunned for a while. He got transferred further up the garden where he sat for a moment or two before running off.

Yesterday included another regular visitor. Hearing the Blackbirds alarm call, I went to investigate and disturbed the Sparrowhawk who had caught a pigeon and was doing what Sparrowhawks do on top of the Leylandii hedge. Hopefully she came back for her meal, but the top of the hedge (out of reach) is decorated with pigeon feathers and the tail, which doesn’t seem to faze the rest of the pigeons at all – small brains perhaps!

We have a derelict horticultural sized greenhouse which is covered with the rampant grapevine (forgot to prune), honeysuckle and Passionflower and a very rampant Fig. Deciding that now was the time to take out the front of it as well as the remaining glass lights, train the fig and generally tidy it up as it sides on to the back door, I discovered that a Blackbird was nesting in the Fig, so that’s a job for later on – again! Perhaps it was this Blackbird that lost her babies to the Sparrowhawk when she nested in a shrub further up the garden. If so she has picked a very, very safe place this time. You can’t really see the nest as it is so entangled in the fig, but you get the general idea.

Somewhere in amongst this lot is yet another pigeon nest, at least one!

We have had Sparrows nesting under the tiles above the bedroom window, so I get woken every morning by a flurry of young ones chittering to be fed. Ungrateful little beasts, I bought two sparrow terrace boxes and put up, which they have ignored and preferred the tiles! For some reason they congregate on the pot of Nasturtiums, hopefully not eating them, and pop up and down into the stand part between the pot itself and the stand, comical to watch.

It’s not always the wildlife that eat my plants. This was a clump of Sedum acre, just coming into flower before the Guineafowl dug it up as there was an ant’s nest under it! So I ended up with about 20 pots of bits struggling to grow.

Having decided to at last start on part of the rockery building round the old boat pond, it looked lovely with some flowering plants, all fine until the following day.

Viola cornuta, beautifully blue in full flower – or was!

Viola cornuta alba, Delosperma and similar and a Campanula to trail over the edge of the pond – all were in flower, now ‘trimmed’

I have assumed that this was Peter (the peacock) as he is partial to Campanula which I have to keep out of reach. He trimmed the large pot I have when I took it down to water and forgot to move it again quickly. It went up onto the pond pedestal again only to have a large fat pigeon sitting on it eating away!
So far Peter has missed the Campanula which are tucked at the head of the large pot. Of course I could be maligning him, it could be the rabbits. However I planted some annual Salvias near this pond and went round the other side to plant something else and he wandered up and proceeded to eat them while I watched! They had to be planted in a pot hidden out of sight.
Something that is welcome are the Ladybird larvae. All I have to do is persuade these ones that aphids on the nettles on the field are nowhere near as nice as the aphids up on my plants!

Wow! I did get carried away. If you have persevered this far, thank you very much.

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Nice blog HSG. Did you happen to see the Springwatch Garden at Hampton Court? It was on tv last night. Absolutely stunning garden all designed for wildlife and really beautiful. I thought....if I ever get a bit more land.....but I would keep my more cultivated garden too because wildflowers are gone in the winter.

5 Jul, 2019


I did watch that and saw the garden, which as you say was stunning, what the countryside used to be! Sad if it turns into parks and preserved gardens instead of the countryside in general. More wild flowers in Cornwall, when we were living there, primroses spilling into the sides of the lanes so they got run over! Of course Cornwall being rocky is not an arable area so doesn't get the spraying and run-off from farm land. I agree that you need to keep a cultivated garden too, I do have one, but lots of wild bits too!

5 Jul, 2019


A lovely blog, and a great pic of the little mouse! When counting my blessings (yes I do, often!) I will have to remember to include not having peacocks...will stick to admiring them on other peoples property! Living in one of the last bits of country that still has loads of wildflowers (thank the Lord) does have its drawbacks occasionally - so many seeds float in on the wind or with the birds. I have never yet discovered where the willowherb is coming from...

5 Jul, 2019


The photo of the fig growing up out of the roof made me laugh! My garden grows in a similar way only much smaller & in the city. Haven't cut the grass for years...

5 Jul, 2019


Gosh - that's a 'proper' garden! I would love one of those wildflower meadows on my front lawn but not sure the neighbours would agree and as Cottagekaren says, they disappear over winter and probably look a tad tatty. I have my back garden as tatty as I like, so that will do for now. Your blog was fascinating, thank you!

5 Jul, 2019


I must admit Stera that the mice are sweet, even the voles when you see them in the garden busy collecting seeds, give you a sense of seeing something usually hidden. The voles I will leave alone, the mice are fine if they stay in the garden, but when you hear them plodding about in the loft - not so keen.

5 Jul, 2019


The fig has a mind of it's own Darren. We don't even eat them! But the man who brings me all the free woodchip does and he loves them, so for the figs and any apples he wants, we get free chippings from his business, it keeps the weeds down on the field under the hedges and where I have had it heaped out the front it has made the clay soil a wonderful soft workable stuff. Gains all round, he doesn't have to pay to dump his wood-chip and I get free mulch!

5 Jul, 2019


It's a sort of 'proper garden' Sunnydais! The grass out the front gets cut, but not weeded so is not really grass, but it's green and usually stays that way, so not a problem. The little wild flowers are just in pockets here and there, they do tend to get left in the flower beds when I am weeding, which just makes more of a problem the following year. "One year's seed is seven year's weed" and all that. Wish I had remembered that when I didn't cut the docks down on the field before they seeded. Now they do have have a lot of seed!

5 Jul, 2019


Best thing in my garden today....a fledgling bluetit scampering about the roses eating the aphids. Just perfect!

5 Jul, 2019


thanks for the entertaining read, honeysuckle. It's not hard to be inclusive, is it? those little voles (less so the mice) are illustrative of that. the nerve of that Peter... he must be a source of real enjoyment. what a good set up you've arranged with the landscaper... I have a pile of woodchips that I got from the Hydro maintenance crew... the pile is still there two years later... the wild clematis are growing on it!

5 Jul, 2019


Wonderful ! I love reading your blogs.
I remember all those wild flowers in my dad's garden when I was little, and also Heartsease and Convolvulus. Wen they grew in between the vegetables and my father used to pull them up I always felt sad lol
I have also got most of them here and I have Silverweed , I like the leaves so I leave it alone in some out of the way spots.
I haven't seen any ladybird larvae for many years and very few ladybirds, even though I keep clumps of nettles here and there in the garden. I always live in hope of seeing them again one day.
I did see an orange tip butterfly earlier this year though ... haven't seen one for a long time.
I have never seen a sparrow hawk but we get lots of red kites. They fly quite low above my garden and make a lovely whistelling noise.
And we get buzzards big herrons and huge sea gulls. This year too I have noticed lots of sparrows , lots and lots of them. Other birds I used to see in the other garden before moving here are Bullfinches and Goldfinches. I do miss them although I have a bird phobia.
There are plenty of voles and field mice in the hedgerows about, and Bella often brings some home for me ! :( and the odd small rat or two :( but I have never seen a mole in my garden. However, they are along the roads - I can see the mole hills they create along the grass verges.
Well I'm going to shut up now ... I think this is the longest comment I have ever made to someone's blog ! :D

5 Jul, 2019


We love watching the birds Karen, just wish we didn't have quite so many pigeons, even the collared doves are getting to be a nuisance now. Both breed all year round I think, goodness knows what will happen to the farmer's crops if the 'no shooting of pigeons, crows and rooks' suggested by Chris Packham takes hold. They do so much damage. Meanwhile small birds also bear the brunt of predation by some of them. We get loads of Goldfinches, Blue tits, Great Tits, Dunnocks as well as Sparrows which we didn't see for a long time, but are now making a come-back. The field has Pheasants and Partridges roaming about, hopefully to nest in some of the long grass.

5 Jul, 2019


Peter is a joy in some ways, a pain in others, Lori! So beautiful perched up high with his tail flowing down, not so much when he is sitting in the flower bed, squirming his huge feet to make a dust bath. Or sampling the flowers. What I didn't understand was why he decided to eat the Salvias there when he had left a whole row alone in another bed. Your pile of wood-chip has probably rotted down enough now to make a wonderful mulch for the garden. I just have to be careful what he has brought in case it is too acidic for some plants.

5 Jul, 2019


Not so sure about the voles Honey. They are nice to look at but one year they ring barked one shrub and were half way round another before I found out what was doing it.

5 Jul, 2019


Thanks Hywel, I am always wary of writing about the birds as I know you have the phobia, my daughter is the same, so I usually mention birds in the title to warn you - this time I didn't! I too remember my Father weeding all the pretty flowers out of his vegetables, he had a small-holding so lots of rows of things to weed, people didn't spray much in those days. The weeds used to get thrown to the pigs after making sure there was nothing poisonous amongst it.
I love the Silverweed too, I haven't got any here, but it is so pretty that I don't think I could pull that up either. I have some Heartsease in a pot with some more small plants, hoping to have some seed later. Such cute little pansies, though these have grown quite tall, probably too good a soil.
We have some Buzzards which float about over the fields round about, but don't see too many Gulls, being a bit further inland. The Sparrowhawk go herself trapped in the shed one year where she obviously chased a small bird. OH went out and saw her plastered to the shed window looking frantic. So he had to find some thick gloves and go and get her out as she was attached to the net curtain which is over the window of my workshop! And my neighbour told me she flew into his window a couple of weeks ago, sat about stunned for a while and then flew off. Mind set on one thing obviously, not looking where she was going!
Thanks for reading the blog, I appreciate all the GOY members who plough their way through it all - I do get a bit carried away when I start!

5 Jul, 2019


Really enjoyed this blog. so much wildlife to enjoy. thank you for sharing.

5 Jul, 2019


I never thought of the voles doing damage by ring-barking shrubs Stera! I know the rabbits do it on the field when the winters are bad, I feel sorry for them if the ground is frozen, but not enough to let them kill off my trees. I shall have to take more notice of things that get eaten in the front garden and work out the culprit now.

6 Jul, 2019


Thanks for reading all the way through Seaburn, it's nice to live in the countryside, things I don't really need in the garden are Foxes (because of the chickens and geese), Badgers (same reason), Deer for the eating of things and the rabbits of course!

6 Jul, 2019


Honey I've always said your blogs are a treat to read and see, you always describe your garden in a way that makes me feel as though I'm actually there, you seem to have an abundance of things going on and visitors galore, some more welcome than others, lol...Never worry about us not reading Honey, they are always appreciated..

6 Jul, 2019


Sunny be careful what you wish for, my neighbour has put in for a move, consequently the garden has not been touched back or front for over a year, its a meadow and not a nice one, not funny when its next door to yours, I sit and watch the seedheads blowing all over, stinging nettles above the six foot high fencing, brambles and ivy forever coming under and over, we're not council but she is, they won't do anything....

6 Jul, 2019


What a lovely blog, I really enjoyed reading it and was feeling quite envious of all you have in the garden until I read about the Voles, moles , mice and rats, them, you can keep them all (I have a phobia on all these). I did once see a mouse in my garden and couldn't go out there for weeks on end lol.

6 Jul, 2019


I would be struck speechless to see a peacock taking a dust bath! that must be a sight for sore eyes! lol... with that beautiful tail he must have a hard time keeping his dignity whilst flailing the sand around! such entertainment can't be bought at any price! I've had to make a special dugout for my cat because he was trying to use my carrot bed as his latrine... the things we do for love of our animals!

6 Jul, 2019


Thanks Lincslass, I try to make the blogs interesting, but it is only my garden which I look at and see the things that need doing! Things that need replacing, finishing or especially weeding!
As for the next door neighbour, just hope they move soon and you get someone who will appreciate the garden. So many houses these days have no access to a garden that it is criminal to have a neighbour who wastes the space.

7 Jul, 2019


It's not too much of a problem with the rodents Loupylou. You don't see too many of them for a lot of the time. They all have their place, the one I would really like is the Dormouse. We have so many Hazel trees and bushes growing that they could live here happily! We get one squirrel (grey of course) which appears at odd times, raids the bird feeders and eats the hazel nuts, but most of the nuts are eaten by mice. Loads of nuts with the ends neatly chewed off to get to the kernels inside, or worse buried in flowerpots so that you get another Hazel tree growing.

7 Jul, 2019


Speechless is not quite what I am Lori! To watch a few poor plants being scattered so that he can get to the bare earth is disheartening. Even more so if it's the next day when you find them and they can't be rescued. This hot weather he tucks himself under some of the shrubs in the dappled shade and a sudden squawk (at ANY loud noise) or a flash of blue will tell you where he is. Sometimes close enough to startle you.

7 Jul, 2019


That Peter! lol....

9 Jul, 2019

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