• Bring on the Spider Hunter

    As my previous blog showed, in the great web of life, spiders are pretty terrifying hunters...if you're an insect, that is.

    If you are scared of spiders, I hope you can at least appreciate the valuable work they do munching their way through countless flies and gnats and other creepy-crawlies each year.

    But spiders have plenty to be nervous of too, because there are creatures out there that specialise in hunting…

    • 28 Nov 2011
  • Warning! Ferocious spider photo

    Any arachnophobics, look away now!

    A couple of weeks ago I was moving a plant pot when I disturbed the spider you are about to see.

    It wasn't as large as those giant ones you see at this time of year in the bath with the really long legs, which are usually Tegenaria gigantea.

    But it was really dark slate-grey and fleshy looking, with mahogany legs and a lightly fluffy rear end, and something vaguely sinister about…

    • 25 Nov 2011
  • A stinker or not?

    Woohoo! Yesterday I was able to put in a whole day in the garden, which always brings such a feeling of fulfilment.

    It would have been lovely to have done something very 'wildlifey'. But even the most ardent wildlife gardener must still turn their hand to all those structural and functional things that need doing, so myprimary task of the day was to dig in stepping stones all around my Woodland Garden.

    I'd much…

    • 21 Nov 2011
  • Move over Torvill and Dean

    With temperatures remaining mild down here in Sussex, insects continue to buzz about , including a bumblebee last weekend on my Catmint, and a Common Darter dragonfly still on the wing nearby.

    But most surprising for the time of year are the insects still in my pond. Or rather on it, for the surface is still busy with pond skaters.

    It made me ponder how much I actually know about pond skaters. I knew they were true…

    • 18 Nov 2011
  • A rash move in the garden?

    I'm a world class ditherer when it comes to the big changes in the garden. For a long time, I've bemoaned the shade cast by two leylandii I inherited in the garden, and the fact that nothing will grow beneath them. I felt that my garden was becoming a deep, dark pit. But should I remove them?

    Well, for many years I took the coward's option of chop chop chopping away at the tops and tips, shredding and composting…

    • 14 Nov 2011
  • Looking good in the garden when all around are growing tired

    Hats off to any garden that keeps looking good way into autumn. What a skill it is to drag out the season, to milk each last drop of colour and texture, warding off the evil eye of winter

    One of those is the Bishop's Garden in Chichester that I get to wander through every couple of weeks or so on my way to meetings.

    These photos were taken on the 13 October, but even so, don't they look wonderful?!

    The golden…

    • 11 Nov 2011
  • Toad in the Hole

    All those Frogs and Toads and Newts that you see in your pond - where do they all disappear to after the breeding season?

    I've got my regular Toad in my compost heap, but that doesn't account for all the others that visit.

    I got part of my answer this week when I removed a Fig plant that has been struggling in a rather shady corner.

    It was planted in a large tub to contain its roots and stop it going rampant…

    • 7 Nov 2011
  • Pigeon Pandemonium

    With the recent winds and rains fast ripping the leaves off my Sycamores, I noticed a nest about 20 feet up that I hadn't seen before.

    It wasn't there this spring, so had clearly been built this year, and I wondered if some young birds had been produced in the garden right under my nose without me realising.

    So imagine my surprise when a little head popped up.

    It was a young Wood Pigeon, with its dark bill…

    • 4 Nov 2011
  • Thanks for stepping up in the garden

    Every so often, I’ve been mentioning the RSPB’s big campaign of the moment – or rather ‘movement’ – called Stepping up for Nature.

    The idea is that all of our little steps feel all the more valuable in light of everyone else’s efforts. And it is a powerful message to those in power that, with society doing its bit, we’re looking to them to play their part too.

    Today…

    • 1 Nov 2011