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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

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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