• Virtual garden tours online.

    All the extra time in our gardens these days is wonderful for productivity and relaxation, but though gardens are continuously evolving, we are always in the same garden. Online virtual garden tours offer a change of scene, new ideas plus inspiring stories and there are so many available to view at the moment.

      Laburnham X watereri 'Vossii': Ernie Janes (rspb-images.com)

    The National Garden Scheme offers video t…

    • 1 Jul 2020
  • Solitary Bee week: Mon 29th June - Sun 5th July.

    From Monday 29thJune, it’s Solitary Bee Week, an initiative to promote the awareness and importance of solitary bees in the UK.  Leafcutter Bee: Nick Upton (rspb-images.com)

    There is lots of information on the site about behaviour and species, plus how you can get involved with activities and events.

    We have over 260 bee species in our country and 90% are solitary bees. It means that they do not reside in hives or large…

    • 27 Jun 2020
  • Slugs: living with and without them!

    As I sit outside on these beautiful warm evenings when the sky is still not black at 10.30pm, I think I’m relaxing until I hear that dreaded munching sound. It’s like a quiet, repetitive scratching scraping sound and I know what it is; slugs or snails… enjoying my young shoots that I had hoped would flourish into full plants.

      Tim Hunt (rspb-images.com)

    It’s not going to happen if they are left to roam…

    • 24 Jun 2020
  • Nocturnal wildlife and plants with night fragrance.

    With today being the summer solstice; our longest day when sundown is just after 9.20pm, it’s the perfect time to spend the evening in the garden.

      Nightjar: Paul Sawer (rspb-images.com)

    A time when we might actually down tools and plans and just stop for a while to revel in the sights, smells and sounds of the garden. As nightfall slowly descends, our sense of smell and hearing increase over sight as colours and visual…

    • 20 Jun 2020
  • Grassland Wildflowers.

    The grassland wildlfowers really hit their stride this month. I love their names, a list of them reads like some ancient poetry, the meaning of which has been lost in time: black medick, burdock, greater birdsfoot trefoilvetch, knapweed  cornfield poppies, oxeye daisieshawkbitwild carrot, red clover, white clover, tare,  there are so many to discover.

      Field Poppies: Ernie Janes (rspb-images.com)

    These wild grassy habitat…

    • 17 Jun 2020
  • Roses for garden wildlife.

    Roses are surely some of the most iconic of all flowers and conjure up images of the typically beautiful old fashioned English garden brimming with charm.

     New Dawn Rose: Nancy Brown

    The huge variety of specimens offer something for almost every type of garden situation whether you’re looking for something cute and compact for a pot, a medium or large bushy plant for the border, a hedge or an enormous climber.

    They…

    • 13 Jun 2020
  • Spectacular dragonflies.

    Through the summer months, dragonflies will be emerging as winged adults from their larval form. Common Hawker emerging: Genevieve Leaper (rspb-images.com)

    Unlike butterflies, they don’t go through a pupa /chrysalis stage with a hard exterior. When the days are long and the temperature is right, dragonfly larva crawl out of the water to spend a few days adjusting to breathing air before their final moult into the adult…

    • 9 Jun 2020
  • Watering the garden through summer.

    Gardens in East Anglia can start getting really thirsty at this time of year. This year’s spring has turned out to be the sunniest on record for the UK. Great for enjoying the outdoors and catching up in the garden but not so good for many plants, wild animals and crops.

      Roses, peonies and cirsium: Nancy Brown

    We can see that our gardens are dry so many of us are out watering in the early evenings. There are ways…

    • 5 Jun 2020
  • Nestlings and Fledglings

    On a dog walk recently, I came across a chance and delightful discovery; drawn to the high pitched squeaking, I peered inside: community.rspb.org.uk/.../7563.2251.2262.1588.4064.8233.0447.1462.Nestlings-shorter-touch5.7_5F00_1.mp4Blue tit nest: Nancy Brown

    ...to discover these blue-tit nestlings inside an outdoor tap box. Usually nests are built high up or deep within foliage, as far away from predators as possible but this…

    • 1 Jun 2020
  • Moths in the Garden.

    In the UK, there are 59 species of butterfly but approximately 2,500 species of Moth!

     Buff-tip Moth: Nancy Brown        Cinnabar Moth: Nancy Brown

    Famous for being night flyers, many actually fly during the day or both. As well as being as beautiful in colour and design as our butterflies, Moths are also the masters of disguise and some have incredible camouflage markings that look just the same as bark and leaves.

    Children,…

    • 29 May 2020
  • Encouraging Bumblebees and planting for Pollinators.

    We will hopefully be seeing more Bumblebees in our gardens through May and June as their colonies establish.

     Carder Bumblebee: Richard Bedford (rspb-images.com)

    Their homes are not the smart, orderly hexagonal style of the honeybee’s, it’s much more of an ad-hoc and messy clump of cavities that store their food; quite an extraordinary structure if you ever come across one tucked away in the ground or some sort of cavity…

    • 24 May 2020
  • Mental Health Awareness Week 18th - 24th May.

    As well as this week celebrating the Chelsea Flower Show, it is also Mental Health Awareness Week.

     Ray Kennedy (rspb-images.com)

    The benefits of gardening and nature on mental health are well documented but why do they improve our mood or make us feel better after some time immersed in them? 

    Gardens and nature are relaxing. They take us away from the digital world and away from our stressful situations. When we are actively…

    • 21 May 2020
  • Chelsea Flower Show 2020.

    It’s Chelsea Flower Show week!

    Although there is no actual “show” this year, there is lots to see online at Virtual Chelsea 2020.

     Poppy: Jodie Randall (rspb-images.com),      Tulip Tulipa sp: Sue Kennedy (rspb-images.com)

    The BBC is also still airing a live programme at 8pm Monday to Friday with Monty Don and Joe Swift from their gardens at home looking back at many Chelsea highlights. Last night (Monday 1…

    • 19 May 2020
  • Nettles.

    Nettles are not the gardener’s favourite wild plant when trying to create beauty in a garden!

     Comma Butterfly. Sue Kennedy (rspb-images.com)

    They are robust perennials that seed and spread in seemingly any aspect and soil. Although we may want to remove them from our borders, leaving them to grow in certain areas of the garden can offer great benefits to wildlife, and to us.

    Nettles provide perfect habitat for Comma…

    • 15 May 2020
  • Dragonflies on the Wing.

    Dragonflies can begin to emerge as early as April. In the UK, we have 36 Species of Dragonfly and 21 species of Damselflies, both from the insect order Odonata.

     Male Broad-bodied Chaser Dragonfly: Ernie Janes (rspb-images.com)

    Two ways to tell the difference are with regard to wings and eyes: at rest, Damselflies have their wings upright, as butterflies do when they rest on a flower but dragonfly wings are left open, horizontal…

    • 10 May 2020
  • Hedgehog Awareness Week 3rd – 9th May.

    This week is Hedgehog Awareness Week!

     David Tipling (rspb-images.com)

    It’s organised by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society to raise awareness of Hedgehogs and their behaviour, the difficulties they face and how we can help.

    Last night, I could hear some rather loud huffing and puffing from my neighbour’s garden here in Suffolk and after a bit of research, concluded that this was the hedgehog mating ritual…

    • 5 May 2020
  • Birds nesting and feeding their young.

    May is a really busy month for garden birds as many are in the full swing of their breeding season in one way or another. They could be busy building nests, incubating eggs or already looking for extra food for their chicks.

     David Tipling (rspb-images.com)

    “Busy” incubating eggs? Surely that’s just a matter of sitting on them?    Incubation can actually require a lot of attention and effort throughout the…

    • 2 May 2020
  • National Gardening Week Mon 27th April - Sunday 3rd May

    This week is National Garden week and typically, the rain is coming down! It may not inspire us to be out there for hours on end right now but after all our recent sunshine, the rain is much needed by our plants, crops and wildlife.

    Interestingly, I dug my spade into the earth and it came out with moisture on it from the top to the tip so these two days of fairly light rain are really having an impact and getting down…

    • 29 Apr 2020
  • Orange-tip butterflies

    One of the butterflies we see in abundance during April at Flatford is the cheery orange-tip butterfly having emerged from its chrysalis around this time.

     David Kjaer (rspb-images.com)

    The male butterfly is the one with the orange-tip, but the female is more of a “grey-tip”. She’s easy to identify as she also has the distinct dot on each fore-wing and a dark body.

    They particularly like to lay their little…

    • 26 Apr 2020
  • Solitary bees about.

      

       Nick Upton (rspb-images.com)

     community.rspb.org.uk/.../8625.3414.4431.3730.4375.4861.2330.3583.8358.7065.6813.2818.5707.2821.1104.1018.8510.5340.solitary-beehotelezgif_2D00_2.m4vvideo: Teresa Wachter

    We are beginning to see more solitary bees about as the spring progresses. The larvae are now emerging from their winter hibernation and ready to take flight in search of food, nesting materials and each other! (for mating…

    • 23 Apr 2020
  • Butterflies on the wing.

    It’s such a joy to now be spotting butterflies in the garden. There are several species emerging from their winter hibernation around this time including Peacocks, Commas, Brimstones, Small Tortoiseshells and Red Admirals.

     Ernie Janes (rspb-images.com)   

      Nick Upton (rspb-images.com) 

    The fluttering movement and colourful beauty of butterflies can somehow seem like the cherry on the cake in a spring/ summer garden…

    • 20 Apr 2020
  • Spring Garden Survey with Colchester Natural History Society.

    The Colchester Natural History Society is running a survey at the moment to find out more about the wildlife in our gardens at this time.They are asking people to record the wildlife they see in their garden with details of what kind of garden they have.

    Alternatively, participants can record what they see in a local space whilst they are out for their daily exercise /dog walk.

    Any submissions will be greatly appreciated…

    • 18 Apr 2020
  • Newts in and around the garden pond in spring.

    Video clip: Ros Kelsey

     Ray Kennedy (rspb-images.com)    Ray Kennedy (rspb-images.com)

    During April, we start to see frogs and newts emerging in at the pond at Flatford in anticipation for the mating season.

    We usually see the more common “Smooth” newt but while the garden is closed we unfortunately won’t be there to identify the species and witness the activity. The newts will probably be enjoying the peace and tranquillity…

    • 16 Apr 2020
  • Crab Apple Beauty and a last visit to the garden for a while.

      Shirley Sampson

    Hi All, 

    I had such a lovely hour at the garden last week doing the insurance check – made even sweeter knowing that it might be my last for a while as it’s likely that I will be furloughed.

    It was warm and sunny, and the crab apples along the main track and in the orchard are all blooming beautifully! I noticed some wood anemones (planted by us a few years back) blooming on the banks to the…

    • 15 Apr 2020
  • Any time's a good time for bird boxes.

          

    Although National Bird box week was earlier in the year: (14th-21st February), putting up a bird box at any time of year can be a great help to local birds.

    With natural nesting sites being lost to new housing developments, old buildings and holes being repaired and woodland sites diminishing, we can make a huge difference in offering much homes to birds in our gardens.

    At Flatford, we have seen blue tits and great…

    • 13 Apr 2020