• Let's get squilly!

     On Friday I had the pleasure of visiting the Royal Horticultural Society's garden at Hyde Hall in Essex for the first time. For me, visiting 'professional' gardens such as this is a great way to get to see a huge range of interesting plants and observe what wildlife, if anything, is taking advantage.

    My car thermometer said that it was 15 degrees Centigrade, but my body thermometer said otherwise, so apart…

    • 28 Feb 2011
  • The ultimate fossicker

     The sun tried to come out here today. Because of the influence of the nearby cool sea, it wasn’t quite as balmy as I believe many of you had inland, and there was only a vague luke-warmness coming through. But, with only a light wind, it was certainly pleasant to get out at lunchtime and indulge in some wildlife observation in the local public gardens.

    In terms of insects, very little was on the wing. Some housefly…

    • 25 Feb 2011
  • Late winter treats for bumblebees

    I’ve now seen my first bumblebee of the year! Perhaps if 95% of my daylight hours in winter weren’t sat in front of a computer screen or incarcerated in meetings I’d have seen more (don't worry,  I’m not bitter about my job, but there’ve been some glorious sunny days down here this week which tug mercilessly at the heartstrings).

    The bee paused on a mahonia in flower in a neighbour's garden…

    • 21 Feb 2011
  • Gardening for wildlife comes to Constable country

    I was pleased this week to see that work is progressing well on what perhaps is the RSPB’s most ambitious project to date to make a garden fit for wildlife.

    We’ve previously done a couple of show gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show, and we’ve got the gardens at The Lodge, Saltholme, Rainham Marshes and some other reserves, but this will be a standalone, free-entry public garden in the heart of the Suffolk countryside…

    • 18 Feb 2011
  • Toads on the Brain

     Coming home in the dark on Thursday evening, I was surprised to almost step on a Toad as I came through the 'Woodland Garden'. I had to do a nifty pirouette in the torchlight to avoid a nasty squelch - my mind just wasn't in a 'Mind the Toads' kind of place.

    It prompted me to think all things 'Toady' over the last few days.

    Thought No.1) Is this an early Toad for my garden? It certainly felt…

    • 14 Feb 2011
  • Evolution in action in your back garden

    At last, I've managed to grab a 'record shot' of one of the Blackcaps that is visiting my garden at the moment. Here he is, homing in on his favourite nibble - fat balls

    This is a little fella that has got 'adaptation' written all over him. To see one in your garden is to see evolution in action - evolution of behaviour rather than evolution in appearance.

    Fifty years ago, to find a Blackcap in…

    • 11 Feb 2011
  • On your marks, get set, peat-free go!

     Regular readers will know that I'm on a bit of a mission this year to try out different peat-free composts and see how they fare. Saving Britain's peat bogs and their wildlife is vital, and that means that the gardening community has got to step up to the mark.

     Now I quickly remind everyone that I am undertaking no scientific experiment. The good folk at organisations such as Which! magazine have all the kit…

    • 7 Feb 2011
  • How gardens put the 'diversity' into biodiversity

    You find me somewhat gloomy. The builders who were due to do our soffits and fascias today turned up while I was at work yesterday and erected the scaffolding - all over my butterfly border. Plants trashed and trampled all over the place.

     So I'm cheering myself up by dipping into the glorious book I've splashed out on - Jennifer Owen's 'Wildlife of a Garden'. It is a brand new title published by the RHS which sets out…

    • 4 Feb 2011