Blog Archives

You get out of it what you put into it

Heading into June I can’t help but beam with a big smile as the hard work put into the garden is finally starting to give back. In early Spring we were blessed with the Daffodils and these were followed by the Purple Tulips at the end of April. This was their first appearance since I planted the bulbs in the Winter. I’d even decorated the garden with Plum Slate Chippings and these were pushed aside as the bulbs revealed their green tips.

   
 

We have been truly blessed by the wildlife that have used our garden as their Kitchen. The birds didn’t take residence in our nesting boxes however we are now starting to see their babies feed. Last week we had the baby Starlings join us which is quite fitting as we love Game of Thrones!! 

We created a hotel for our Solitary Bee and are pleased to announce the babies survived and emerged from their little tunnels. This was put back out in the same place last month and this week the same bee has returned to start this years batch. On closer inspection we actually have two bees both using the homemade hotel. This is pretty exciting, I love it when nature appreciates what humans try and do to assist in their lives.

   
 

At the beginning of May we dug up the worst part of the lawn and lay some new turf. It was one of the most knackering of Bank Holiday Weekends experienced but that was purely down to the Clay. The benefits of this hard work are now clear especially as I gave it the first cut, this means it is actually growing! We spent the best part preparing the ground with sharp sand, ground purifier, feed, and fertiliser with top soil. The photo below shows it from before we started to the first lay right through to its first cut.

   
   

The BBQ’s have started and we even bought the Chiminea that I’ve been desperately after. These are the moments that you truly enjoy what you have. As I reflect back to the title of this post it’s clear for all to see. Understand that the hard work you put in to whatever you do in life, will eventually pay back. As I walk around the garden I think back to the work put into it over those many hours. 

   
 

Right before I wander back out into the Sun we are currently enjoying I must apologise for the long absence. If truth be told I’m finding life is very busy right now but please be assured I will still be writing and when I get the moment to write then I’ll be here again.

Thanks

Mark 

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Birdwatch Update Spring 2015

We have had some fantastic birds visit our garden throughout Winter and Spring this year. They are certainly busy in their own little world as we are starting to head into the nesting season. The Blue Tits have already inspected our bird nesting boxes as we hope this is the year they take up residence. I thought it was only fair to share some of the amazing photos that we’ve captured to show the variety of feathered friends we have sharing our garden.

  

Our Blue Tits are busy sharing the suet coconuts together.

  

The original Robin regularly feeds off the ground around our feeding station.

  

The Dunnocks love a wander hopping amongst the plants.

  

The Bullfinch proudly puffs his chest showing off his prominent colour.

  

One of the Starling family are always around eating the suet and worms.

 

We love our Pied Wagtail always bopping along the ground being scatty as ever.

There will be further photos as we head into the Latter Spring months.

Mark  

RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch 2015

This weekend (24th – 25th January) was the weekend for all those interested in nature to do their bit and watch for those birds who enter our gardens across the United Kingdom.

For those readers familiar with me and my blog, you will understand how important I value the wild and nature. Last Spring we tried our best to encourage birds into our garden by providing them with feeders and nesting boxes. Since then we have stepped it up a notch and have provided our gardens birds with a nonstop supply of seasonal food throughout 2014 and into this year.

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It is hoped that by doing this it will also give us a better chance of seeing birds nest this year. I was lucky to receive a present of a new bird feeder stand which allows for numerous treats to be displayed prominently in our garden. In the lead up to the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend I’ve kept it full to maximise our viewings over the weekend.

The RSPB guidelines for a successful and accurate Bird Watching experience is to time yourself for an hour and to only count the birds you see at any one time or snapshot of your viewing parameter. This will ensure you don’t duplicate birds seen and also give you a better chance of counting what you see accurately.

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We did a couple of Bird Watching sessions, one mid afternoon on the Saturday and one this morning as I write on the Sunday. It is quite interesting and exciting to see the birds habits by breed and type. Some are very much on a timetable and the regulars in our surrounding trees find the best moments to swoop in and grab their treats as the day passes by.

The results were really quite interesting and we’ve seen numerous different breeds of birds over this weekend. Some I knew we had visited before and some that surprised me. The spot of the weekend was a beautiful Chaffinch with its blazing maroon chest proudly displayed. Our cheeky Robin made a couple of appearances chasing away the Blue Tits and Sparrows whenever possible.

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So what were our weekend Bird Watching results? I’ve taken the highest figure of each variety to ensure accuracy and as per the RSPB rules. The results are as follows: –

3 x Blackbirds
6 x Blue Tits
1 x Chaffinch
1 x Coal Tit
2 x Great Tits
5 x House Sparrows
2 x Long Tailed Tits
1 x Robin
1 x Song Thrush
1 x Wood Pigeon
2 x Starlings
1 x Pied Wagtail

As the list confirms we have a garden full of activity and as I write up my blog I can’t believe the amount of Starlings I’ve just seen swoop down and snap up all of the Meal Worms I put out this lunchtime.

It is important to ensure that those like me who encourage wildlife into their gardens maintain the food supply throughout the year. It is obvious to see that these birds are now relying on our garden as a source for food. Stopping this will only harm them and potentially reduce the numbers and species that live on our planet.

#RSPBBigGardenBirdwatch

It’s been one fun weekend and I’ll be helping the RSPB with their amazing efforts.

Mark

Natures surprises

There have been some strange sights and also some wonderful sights in our garden these last few days. We decided to clear out the old pots and get our garden in some shape ready for this Summer. Where we have grown our own vegetables in the past, this year it’s a lot simpler with focus more on plants and nature. We have had our fair share of birds in the garden, but sadly following on from my previous Blue Tit update I am sad to confirm that our nest boxes are empty this year. Despite this there have been some interesting developments within our gardens walls.

Last year there were no end of stories in the UK’s press relating to False Widow Spiders. These stories now seem to have died down, probably because of the colder months. I joked that it would be typical if my first encounter would happen as soon as they were out of fashion. Whilst emptying out the soil I had bagged to fill up the troughs I saw my first False Widow Spider. It was about the size of a 50p piece and the body was dark with a light pattern across it. The legs were quite muscular and the shape something similar from the film Arachnophobia. I managed to be brave and removed it from the garden, however a couple of days later another one appeared in our house by the front door. My fiancĂ© duly sucked it up with the vacuum and I disposed of the evidence once returning back from work. I do have a photo below, I wonder how many more will appear now the weather is warming up. From first appearing in Devon, it’s safe to say the False Widow has made it to Towcester, much to our annoyance.

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Moving onto a more pleasant story, the one involving our Solitary Bee. On Sunday whilst out in the garden this bee was flying into a hole on our Garage Wall. It kept returning and because of the obvious reservations of it nesting within the mortar, I blocked the hole up. The bee then tried to unblock it to no avail, it then turned it’s attentions to elsewhere. The bee flew into our conservatory and made a beeline (excuse the pun) to some bamboo we have and flew into the hollow innards. After removing the bee again we decided to read up on what it was trying to do, what we discovered was quite fascinating.

The bee was trying to find a place to collect pollen and lay eggs. The bee will create chambers within the nest area so each one contains enough pollen for the egg to hatch and grow from. Because of this frantic behavior demonstrated we created our own nest and placed it near the hole in the garage. This needs to be South facing as Solitary Bees are cold blooded which makes sense as to why it had chosen these places. The sunlight that hits the nest during the day will keep
It warm during the night.

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We used three pieces of Bamboo and glued them using a glue gun. They were then wrapped tightly in twine and the bamboo smoothed out on the inside with a file. This was secured in place so that it couldn’t fall down. Within 5 minutes of hanging this up our bee returned. Since doing this there are five chambers with obvious signs of nests in them, at least we have something nesting in our garden. Let’s see if these hatch safely, one things for sure we have helped our Bee, who still remains unnamed.

Once the pots start growing I will post some photos. I’ve decided on planting a couple of tomato plants as the corner on our patio is a sun trap. This will hopefully see us grown some red toms this year after a couple of disappointing years attempts.

DarcyB

Blue Tit Update – March

Following on from my post about putting up the bird boxes in our garden, there has been a hive of activity going on.

March is typically when Blue Tits will start to feed themselves in preparation for the busier nest building month of April. With the weather being so mild it could be easy to think the nesting season has already started. The chorus of bird songs filling our blossom trees around our garden are a pleasant reminder that we are in Spring.

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There have been some long visits to our Peanut filled bird feeder and this photo taken on Mothering Sunday confirms our local Tits are starting to feed themselves up for a busy April.

We have had a couple of the Blue Tits visit our Bird Boxes and in the early mornings there have been sightings of garden greenery being taken into the boxes. It’s not clear if they have taken residency or put down their deposit 🙂 but they are getting close to making a choice.

It’s very exciting and I hope to have some further positive updates and photos should our Blue Tits decide upon a home for their Nest Building. More updates to follow next month.

DarcyB
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A Winter Garden

For those of you who have been following my blog these last 4 months, you will have gathered by now my love of spending time in the garden. It is something that I’ve certainly inherited from my Mum and I’m fortunate that the people I’ve grown up along including my fiancĂ©e have and are supportive of this love of mine.

It’s the time of year sadly, where there is very little left to do, well in my garden anyway. I spent last week tidying out the raised beds and removing all the seedlings that have sprouted from seeds that had fallen into them from the bird feeders. One thing I would say, sparrows are incredibly noisy and messy little things, it’s a shame that they more than make up for this with their amazing characteristics and cheeky little faces. It’s at this point I would like to ask my followers, are you finding your bird feeders are being emptied almost daily? It’s happening in my garden and I’ve started alternating the days I refill it.

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With colder nights and shorter days the once colourful roses and snap dragons are replaced with fleece covered beds and pots. It can be quite a depressing sight at this time of year, however it’s great to do the more practical jobs that are easily overseen in the Spring and Summer.

One of our major issues is the Ivy which has grown along the side of our house. Ivy is painfully attractive and looks lovely, the grim reality is the damage it does to brickwork and wooden window frames. A couple of months ago I tried something and it’s only now the benefits are visible. It was so high that I couldn’t reach it with a ladder so I cut along the highest clear part I could reach with some garden clippers. It was a straight cut along the ivy which in some parts was very thick. It was because of this that I think the ivy retained so much water and nutrients in this section.

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As you can see from the photo above it’s finally started to die back from the area that was causing me so much trouble. It is funny now as stray bits of ivy continue to fall away, but it’s far safer than trying to remove live ivy from a dangerous height on ladders. I would be interested to hear from anyone who has had similar issues with hard to reach troublesome ivy.

So what else is there to do in the garden in December? Well I think the array of leaves have stopped accruing on the path so they can be raked up and put in our green garden waste bin. Secondly I think it’s a great opportunity to remove all weeds and look after the winter wildlife that visit your garden. Thirdly I think it’s important to check which plants need protection from the frost and get your fleeces in place!

It may have slowed down out there but it’s still a place of activity as the colder months approach us.

DarcyB