Friday, 24 February 2012

End of February 2012

Well, what a difference a couple of weeks make!  Only that short time ago we were under 4 inches of snow, now the temperature is edging towards 18 degrees!  Makes me very impatient for spring and summer!  The wildflower nursery is now in full flow, with seeds being sowed and plants that are looking a bit sorry being potted on to give them a new lease of life and room to stretch their legs.

Some of the plants did not manage to survive the snow, for example, the Cats Ear plugs were ruined but we did have some in the greenhouse so hopefully they will pick up as they didn't seem to suffer so much.
 The Wild primroses are looking very lush and as thought hey are thoroughly enjoying this first taster of spring!

Many trays of seeds were sown yesterday - Red Clover, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Wild Carrot, Lesser Knapweed - to name but a few!  In a few weeks these should be putting in an appearance, as long as the field mice don't realise they are there!  They can munch through trays of seeds in just one night.  However, the greenhouse is very secure so as long as none have sneaked in during the day things should be OK.

 In front of the "potting shed" is an area of stony soil which had been covered in black weed suppressant.  This matting was removed at the end of last summer to see what would self-sow there.  Already I can see red Clover, Toadflax, Hemp nettle, White Clover, Willowherb and Deptford Pink.  I think this is going to be a lovely little meadow area in the summer, although it is overshadowed by a very tall hedge.  So it will be interesting to see how it develops.

We have also been busy packing orders, particularly wildlflower Gromats.  These mats are so easy to us - just lay them out, cover with compost and water!  We have sold many of these so if you are one of those people who bought one we'd be interested to see how your mat grew!  we are also trialling some of the seed papers we sell to see just how well they germinate.  So far things are looking good as the Lokta, seeded card and seeded petal papers are starting to germinate.

I also did a quick check of all the trees in the garden for signs of mistletoe. Two years ago a friend came round with a pot of very sticky mistletoe berries and  "glued" them onto various trees.  Finally, there are signs of germination as I found two patches on the old apple tree!  Very exciting!  They even survived the arctic conditions recently so I have high hopes for them!

Well, off to pack more orders now.  And by the way, just thought I'd mention i saw the first honeybee of the year in the garden flitting in and out of the snowdrop flowers!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

This and that ...

Well, the snow certainly put paid to any gardening or nursery activities for a couple of weeks.  However, it has practically all gone now so maybe things can get back to normal a bit more now as we head towards spring.  However, things did look magical for a time, covered in white.  Even the most mundane hedge looked beautiful.

This hedge is mainly Hawthorn and you can see on the right hand side the fluffy seedheads of Wild Clematis winding its way through it.  Even the wildflowers still lurking through winter look brilliant in the snow (Teasels):

The birds have been a-twittering like mad in the mornings now and we have had many on the feeders, usually bluetits, chaffinches, great tits plus the usual motley crew of robins and blackbirds.  We have a number of feeders around the garden and nursery and they are well populated with birds.  Have just started seeing the odd Blackcap and Bullfinch too coming to visit.  Woodpeckers are always on the peanuts!

The top feeder was made from an old log we found in the shed which had an interesting shape and hammered into the ground near the conservatory.  However, this then had to be moved a few days later because birds kept flying into the conservatory!  This many-branched feeder is a shop bought one placed near the hedge so that the birds feel safe and they are constantly flitting between the hedge and the feeders.

Lovely little blue tit caught with a sunflower seed propping open his beak!

Aside from the birds we also make sure that any lizards or aquatic wildlife from the pond has a bit of shelter and we have a couple of log piles dotted around the pond area to provide a bit of shelter.

The mason bees and other insects are also well provided for with a number of next boxes placed on various walls around the garden and nursery:

This insect shelter has drilled logs and hollow bamboo to encourage mason bees to nest.  Some of the holes have been filled by them last year but they didn't seem to find this box for quite a while and by then had filled up all the purpose-built nest tubes fixed up elsewhere.  Hopefully more will discover this box this year.  The rest of the box has pine cones and bark for all sorts of other insects to crawl into and live.

It doesn't cost a lot to set up a haven for wildlife in your garden and you will be rewarded with hours of splendidness watching the birds, bees, butterflies and whatever else decides to come and visit your garden!