• Living dangerously in the garden

    First of all can I say how nice it is to have some new faces submitting comments. My aim in this blog is to make it a nice, unthreatening atmosphere where loads of you feel welcome to have your say.
    Secondly, the obvious - isn't it COLD! I’ve been recording the maximum and minimum temperature in my Sussex garden every day for eight years now, and the last four days have been colder than any previous November day.…
    • 30 Nov 2010
  • Gardens - bumblebees' destination of choice

     One of the perks of working in the RSPB (most are emotional, you realise!) is that every day I get to see a summary of the stories out there in the day's press that are relevant to conservation and the environment.

    With my gardening for wildlife hat on, I was interested in a piece in today's Telegraph reporting that "cottage gardens are the ‘last chance saloon’ for bumblebees". (The photo is from last spring of …

    • 26 Nov 2010
  • In praise of yellow

     Some months ago on this blog, I wrote a piece about Field Maple in which I said it was a useful ‘gardening for wildlife’ plant for various moth caterpillars and as part of a mixed native hedge, although it offered little in terms of its flowers, seeds or autumn colour.

    A reader pulled me up to say that the yellow leaf tones in autumn are really very attractive. And quite right too.

    It made me realise for the…

    • 22 Nov 2010
  • Gleaming in the gloom of the glade

     Having visited Anglesey Abbey's Winter Garden a couple of week's back, I was of course entranced as most visitors are by the glade of Himalayan Birch trees (Betulis utilis Jacquemontii). I seem to remember hearing that the white trunks are washed to gleam in the gloom, and they do indeed look magnificent.

    Now more work needs to be done to establish how good non-native plants are for garden wildlife, but being…

    • 19 Nov 2010
  • There's a mouse about this...erm...garden

     As I sat down to a bit of lunch having been enhancing my 'six'-pack (more like a one-pack) with some hearty leaf raking, a movement in my flower border attracted my attention.

    Realising that it was mammalian, I engaged my primeval capacity for stalking armed with the ultimate 21st century weapon - the digital camera. And here is what I 'caught' (left).

    Now, before I go any further, I readily admit that…

    • 15 Nov 2010
  • Ivy - friend or foe?

     While walking through a woodland last week, I came across this (left). Wherever Ivy had grown up into one of the soaring mature trees, it had been cut away at the base, severing it from its roots. It must have taken quite an effort to do them all, and as a result each tree was wrapped in a rather unsightly dead shell of Ivy stems and leaves

    It made me consider that perennial question - does Ivy harm a tree? It is especially…

    • 12 Nov 2010
  • Strawberry season is here!

     Strawberries? In November? Have I been nibbling toadstools again?

    Well, here's the evidence, which I photographed last week in the fabulous winter garden at the National Trust's Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire.

    You'll notice these are not the strawberries one would douse in cream while watching Andy Murray lose at Wimbledon. Oh no, these are the fruit of the Strawberry Tree, Arbutus unedo.

    I covered…

    • 8 Nov 2010
  • The quietly fading countryside

     As part of gardening for wildlife, I try and keep up with pertinent developments in science and knowledge. I admit I'm not very good at it - background reading barely gets a look in during the summer when the garden is just too enticing. But I know winter must be close at hand because I've started to notice relevant stories.

    The one that caught my eye this week was the study by the Centre for Hydrology and Ecology…

    • 5 Nov 2010
  • The masked vikings are coming

     Now I don't think I need to tell you that this is NOT the best bird photograph ever taken.

    But it is the only one I've ever taken of this particular species. And it is such a glam bird that even to have a hazy image like this to remind me of my encounter in 2005 is enough to generate something of a thrill.

    It's one of those birds that many people can recognise even though they may not have seen it. That peachy…

    • 1 Nov 2010