• Snap happy!

    Back when I was a kid, if you wanted to take a photo, you had to buy a physical roll of film, pop it in your chunky camera, get through the full roll of 24 or 36 negatives or slides, and then pay to send it off and wait ages for the results to drop through your letter box. One precious film could sit in a camera for months, hanging on for the right moment to take those precious memories.

    These days? Well, what a change…

    • 14 Jan 2022
  • Making it easy to go peat-free

    We all know why we need to go peat-free in our gardens (and here's a little background information into the issue).

    But I'm very interested in the psychology of it, and what many people want (understandably) is for going peat-free to be a doddle.

    The thing is, when it comes to buying plants, many people are often so eager that the peat question gets sidestepped in their excitement. I know - I've felt the urges…

    • 7 Jan 2022
  • In the garden doldrums? It makes what is to come all the more special

    I don't think I've ever posted a photo on this blog quite like this. My eye (and camera) is normally so drawn to anything that enchants and intrigues and beguiles. But the reality is that this is what many gardens look like at this time of year. "There's nothing to see here" might well be the caption.

    If your garden has areas that look somewhat like this, I hope it is comforting to know that I took…

    • 31 Dec 2021
  • Your Gardening for Wildlife Christmas Quiz

    It's Chrisssstmaaaaassss!

    And so I thought I'd delve into my photo archive from the year and bring you a little Gardening for Wildlife Picture Quiz to accompany your latest glass of port or egg nog.

    You've got fifteen questions - five on birds, five other creatures, and five plant-based questions. And each set of five gets a little bit harder as you go through them.

    So, if you're ready, here goes (with answers…

    • 24 Dec 2021
  • A Star is Born

    I walk around my garden every morning, the best way to start the day before I plonk myself in front of the latest excel spreadsheet or Teams call. And every day there is something new to be found, something to delight or entrance.

    And then some mornings I find something that amazes. And so it was this Tuesday when I chanced upon what looked like it was from another world. It was this:

    What a curiosity! It is about 10cm…

    • 17 Dec 2021
  • Letting go of lawns

    I was delighted this year when my mum decided to relinquish control and let her back lawn 'do its thing'.

    I got to see it in the middle of June, by which stage the White Clover had caused a constellation of creamy stars across it.

    I love it when what for the rest of the year looks like an 'all grass lawn' is given its freedom and soon reveals that there is so much more to it than that.

    Around the birdbath…

    • 10 Dec 2021
  • Let me take you to the Med

    Earlier this year, I revisited the inspiring Beth Chatto gardens in Essex. I love all of it - the woodland garden, the ponds, the nursery full of unusual plants grown peat-free. But more than anything I adore the gravel gardens.

    There is something - to my eye - so relaxing and natural about the 'dried up riverbeds' of gravel winding through the interlocking plants that spill out. There are beds of pink thyme and acid…

    • 3 Dec 2021
  • Watch out! Shooting fungus about

    Last month, I managed a little break up in my beloved north Norfolk among the wild geese and massed wading bird. Such a great place to clear your head of everything but nature.

    Of course, I never miss the opportunity to visit anything to do with wildlife gardening, so I grabbed my chance to pop in to the lovely Natural Surroundings south of Blakeney and Cley.

    It is run by Anne and Simon Harrap - you might have one of…

    • 26 Nov 2021
  • The garden's been tangoed

    At this time of year, I'm not a fan of getting up when it is still dark, but the one bonus is an hour or so later - on a clear morning - when I get to see the first rays of sunlight flood the garden.

    And on some days, like this week, it strikes the tops of the trees that are in their autumn finery and fills the 'roof' of the garden with fire.

    It puts such a glow in me that I felt I might as well go for a…

    • 19 Nov 2021
  • On the lookout for Clingons

    With temperatures still in double figures for most of us recently, it has been a good opportunity to go searching for Clingons in the garden. No, not humanoid warriors from the planet Qo'noS (Dr Who fans will correct me if I have got that wrong*) but those creatures that cling on to the last vestiges of summer and refuse to let winter in. [*I now find out that the Klingons were in Star Trek. It shows how little I…

    • 12 Nov 2021
  • Garden mini-makeover IV: Dealing with a sticky problem

    This summer, we put a call out for homeowners to come forward who were up for the challenge of helping wildlife in their gardens. Over four blogs, I’ll be sharing the ‘behind-the-scenes’ story of the garden mini-makeover videos we made.

    What the homeowners didn’t have were massive budgets, a dozen burly workers and oodles of time, like you see on the telly.

    Instead, they were asked to spend around…

    • 5 Nov 2021
  • Garden mini-makeover III: Rising to new heights

    This summer, we put a call out for homeowners to come forward who were up for the challenge of helping wildlife in their gardens. Over four blogs, I’ll be sharing the ‘behind-the-scenes’ story of the garden mini-makeover videos we made.

    What the homeowners didn’t have were massive budgets, a dozen burly workers and oodles of time, like you see on the telly.

    Instead, they were asked to spend around…

    • 29 Oct 2021
  • Garden mini-makeover II: Life from the rubble

    This summer, as part of our new Nature on your Doorstep project, we put a call out for homeowners to come forward who were up for the challenge of helping wildlife in their gardens. Over four blogs, I’ll be sharing the ‘behind-the-scenes’ stories of the garden mini-makeover videos we made.

    What the homeowners didn’t have were massive budgets, a dozen burly workers and oodles of time, like you see on…

    • 22 Oct 2021
  • Garden Mini-makeover I: Doing it for the bees in Devon

    This summer, as part of the RSPB's new Nature on Your Doorstep project, we put a call out for homeowners who were up for the challenge of helping wildlife in their gardens. Over four blogs, I’ll be sharing the ‘behind-the-scenes’ story of the garden mini-makeovers videos we made.

    What the homeowners didn’t have were massive budgets, a dozen burly workers and oodles of time, like you see on the telly…

    • 15 Oct 2021
  • Propagation paradise

    A  couple of weeks ago, me and my mum got to visit some family friends, Pat and Keith, who have a simply gorgeous garden in Kidderminster, Worcestershire.

    It is one of those gardens that is great for wildlife, not becausethat is its prime focus, but because it is a garden filled with wonderful plants, cottage garden style. We're talking hundreds and hundreds of plants! 

    Things such as glorious old apple trees, 40 foot…

    • 8 Oct 2021
  • Under the cover of darkness, our world is changing

    Now in early October, numbers of butterflies are drying up to a mere dribble – in my garden, the last of the Large Whites, Small Whites, Red Admirals and Speckled Woods are weakly fluttering.

    However, if you run a moth trap, you find that your garden is still very much alive with their more elusive cousins.

    So, last Saturday, I put out my trap with what is called an actinic bulb, which glows with a rather bluish…

    • 1 Oct 2021
  • Roll up, roll up! All come for a peek at this garden curiosity

    The thing about the wildlife in your garden is that you become so familiar with what is normally there' that you notice instinctively when something appears that isn't. It's like a stranger walking into a pub that is usually only frequented by regulars.

    So it was last weekend. My mum was staying and we were just sitting down to breakfast when something flew into the tree outside the lounge window that holds…

    • 24 Sep 2021
  • Garden plants for wildlife: Five autumn classics

    The nights may be closing in with unseemly haste, but flower borders can still pack a punch for another six weeks or so, both in terms of colour and also the wildlife that visits.

    So, here are five plants in my garden this week that I consider to be some of the stars of autumn, including different types suitable for all sorts of outside spaces.

    In no particular order:

    1. Joe Pye Weed Eupatorium maculatum

    The transatlantic…

    • 17 Sep 2021
  • An introduction to: hoverflies

    What do you know about hoverflies? You only get one point for saying that they're flies and they hover!

    They are one of those groups of insects that are found in almost every garden, they're often boldly coloured and day-flying, and many spend plenty of time in and around flowers. They are some of the friendly* faces you can get to know and understand and take notice of. (*'Friendly' as in they don't bite…

    • 10 Sep 2021
  • Seduced by beautiful blue eyes

    You've heard me say it before, and I never get tired of saying it - a pond is one of the best and most exciting things you can do for wildlife (and just as much for you) in the garden.

    Mine are constant sources of delight, enough that two more are going in this autumn to add to the five I already have (call it greed? I call it a thirst for ponds!).

    So, this week I was merrily enjoying the Ruddy Darters that appear…

    • 3 Sep 2021
  • A journey around the world in a wildlife-packed garden

    In this week's blog, we return to Keith Wiley's garden called Wildside in Devon to get inspiration from some of the late summer plants he grows that pull in the wildlife crowds.

    Now what Keith does is effectively create tapestries of plant communities - growing the right plants together in the right places. But I'm going to pick out some of the individual plants - you can't create a community without knowing the…

    • 27 Aug 2021
  • Moving heaven and earth: A garden inspired by nature

    Last weekend, I had the pleasure of doing a wildlife mini-makeover of a garden down in Devon. More of that little venture later this autumn. But today's story is what I managed to squeeze in around it - a trip to a garden that I have long wanted to see.

    Wildside is the imaginative, extraordinary garden of Keith Wiley, the renowned plantsman*, and one that has featured on Gardeners World and in many a leading gardening…

    • 20 Aug 2021
  • Full Alert in the garden

    There are some creatures in my garden that are guaranteed to grab my attention. If there is a bird, butterfly or dragonfly somewhere in my line of vision, I see it, I am alive to its presence.. Guaranteed.

    But I know that there are shedloads of creatures that just pass me without even registering as a flicker on the electrograph of my brain. I don't know them so I don't notice them.

    It's like people in a crowded…

    • 13 Aug 2021
  • I'm just a teenage dirtbag

    Once more this blog is about to get 'down and dirty', as I believe the kids say today.

    The thing is that I seem to have got teenagers lounging about all over my garden at the moment.

    Some of them are REALLY scruffy. I mean, look at this! What. A. State.

    Were it not for the tell-tale bit of orange coming through, you'd struggle to tell what this is, it looks so grungey. This young Robin has been for a bit of a…

    • 6 Aug 2021
  • Make hay while the sun shines

    With so many people making mini-meadows in their gardens these days (which is great), there's one question I get asked more than almost any other: when should I cut it? It can seem such a drastic step, and the kind of thing that can go terribly wrong!

    I'll start by turning to three of my go-to meadow gurus who I've had the pleasure of meeting over the years, before I give you my summary.

    First, Jenny Steel…

    • 30 Jul 2021