LESSER is so much more...

Hello All,

What a terrible time this is at the moment, but we can take solace in nature and if you are lucky enough to have a garden you can still enjoy what it has to offer us.

At this time as a self-employed wildlife gardener I'm still working so getting a good fix of sun fresh air and wildlife, however in some ways it would be good to get an enforced break to actually do some work in my own garden. But mortgage and bills mean I will continue until provisions are made for the self employed.

What it does give me though, is the opportunity to share some tips and pictures on here for those that may be missing nature during this period...

The easiest way to see pollinators at this time of the year is to allow your garden edges to remain overgrown or a little 'ragged' from winter neglect! Don't be too eager to clear things up now that you have extra time as you will be spoiling good habitat and to be honest losing valuable nectar sources.

The beautiful Lesser Celandine will add a huge splash of yellow and in turn offer nectar for a host of early pollinators such as bees and hoverflies. Eristalis pertinax is the prevalent hoverfly species in my garden at the moment and the yellow Celandine attracts clouds of them!

The other yellow plant in favour in my garden at this time of the year is an aquatic on the edges of my various ponds: Caltha Palustris or it's common name of Marsh Marigold! Again the Eristalis pertinax like these but also do some of our 'real flies' such as the lovely Fly - Chloropidae Sp pictured below.

Real flies including our commonly named blue-bottles and House Fly are in fact fascinating insects and many do the hugely important job of pollination. Next time you see a fly, rather than swipe it away, stop and take a look as they really are an interesting group of insects.

Everyone loves butterflies and it's always the signal of Spring when we start seeing them. For me this week we have recorded: Peacock, Brimstone, Red Admiral and Comma in the garden. It's been interesting watching them nectaring on Primrose in particular. Another yellow flower just starting to emerge is of course the Dandelion again a yellow flower, making Yellow the true colour of Spring!

I think the moral of this is to embrace your weeds at this time of year as the garden slowly starts to awaken from it's winter sleep!

So below are a few snaps from the garden for you to enjoy..

      

      

         

         

Here's hoping that you are all keeping safe and well in these difficult times!.

Best regards

Higgy :-)

  • Hi Higgy, great to hear from you again and many thanks for this lovely and interesting post. The flowers are certainly attracting the insects and handy to know what you recommend - even if we have now gone from garden to balcony, I did follow your last creations and ideas for planting in our last garden which I'm sure the current owners are now benefitting from as well as the wildlife and insects which we used to see in abundance.
    I also wish you good health and hope you stay safe. Looks as though we are in for a long haul unless everyone heeds the necessary advice no matter how restricting we may find it. Good luck.

    _________________________________________________________________________

    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • Hi Hazy,

    What a bummer losing the garden! Balcony gardening doesn't have to prevent you having a few really good pots though. In fact pots are great as you can create and control the conditions to some degree.

    How about trying this planting scheme and reporting back how it gets on and how many bees, butterflies and other pollinators you get on it??

    My all time favourite 'weed' is Purple Toadflax, the bees just love it! So we start with this, Linaria purpurea but we are going to add both pink and peach coloured varieties: Linaria purpurea 'Canon Went' (pink) and Linaria Purpurea 'Peachy' (Peach).

    Linaria flowers all summer.

    Now add in some Scabious: Devil's-bit Scabious (Succissa pratensis) and Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis) are our natives so probably the best but you can also get burgundy varieties if you look for Knautia macedonica - Red Cherries.

    Generally any Scabious is great and you can buy depending in height/colour etc.

    To be honest I wouldn't complicate any more than this, although you could add other plants if you wanted to.

    Your soil mix can be garden soil with 35% compost and a good few hand fulls of grit.

    Alongside these just put a couple of potted dwarf Buddleias and although simple it would look great and attract lots of summer insects.

    I'm only working three hours a day and in larger gardens where I can isolate myself so not too bad. I'm trying to be sensible with , no face to face contact, instructions for jobs/work through email or phone and payment by BACS so best we can do at this time to at least keep the wolf from the door!. However not having to go out at all would be best for all really and save us from having to make these difficult decisions to be honest.

    Stay well

    Best regards

    Higgy

  • Thanks so much Higgy for the recommendations for our balcony,  we certainly want some plants/flowers on there and have plenty of space to play with,   we even have outside power source so may try adding one of those small water features with real plants around it to attract the pollinating insects.   The balcony is south facing so will have to choose plants that like sunshine even though we have roof canopy cover above.    Surrounded by parkland and water beneath us which used to have water lilies which attracted dragonflies and damsels;  fingers crossed they return as the works draining much of the water had to be done.   I believe It is a naturally fed pool from underground springs which is good.    

    Here's the balcony we will have to give you an idea ….     we miss our old garden but it was getting too much to look after being close to one acre with the pond.  All we have to do here is keep the balcony tidied and plants watered !     You can see the outside power source at the end partition where we could plug in a water feature.  

    looking other way ……...

    water level is looking a bit low at the moment as they had to drain it to renovate lower wall/;pathway area but hopefully the natural fill will top levels up and the water can regain its balance to attract the dragonflies back in.     I saw Southern Hawkers for sure last year.  

    thanks again Higgy;   it will be a while before we are ready to sort out the balcony as we don't move in until start of May and the furniture and fittings will have to come first  !  I hope we can do something by end summer and I will keep you updated.      

    _________________________________________________________________________

    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • In reply to HAZY:

    That is lovely!!!!! I would love to get my design juices going for you with that space!

    I would actually consider combining some 'wildlife/pollinator' friendly planting with some large leaved tropicals? Sounds daft but a couple of large green leaves hanging over the balcony in full sun will become landing stages for your dragonflies and other insects as they warm their wings in the sun!?

    Colocasia have great big leaves a bit like banana plants. You could also get away with the slightly less hardy bananas such as the red leaved Ensete Maurellii then mix in your pollinator pots and a few dwarf Buddleias for that colour and interest. As you say a water feature gives movement and sound and again gives you options on some different planting around it.

    Wow what a space to sit in surrounded by plants and over-looking that pond, it could be stunning and I could imagine many happy hours sat there morning, noon and night!!

    Best regards

    Higgy

  • LOL Higgy, even we were surprised by the size of the balcony which is something you don't normally get with new build apartments. Thanks again for some suggestions and ideas, we certainly want to make the balcony more green and wildlife friendly and the southerly direction gives us opportunities to look at more tropical style plants like you have suggested. We are 4 floors up from the water level which is sub ground floor on our building so hope it's not too high above the water for the dragonflies to find us ! Have bookmarked this post so I can refer back to it when the time comes to get the balcony sorted out. Your help is so much appreciated Higgy and hope you have lots of projects awaiting you when this awful lockdown is over. At least you work outside which is a help.

    _________________________________________________________________________

    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • Lovely photos Higgy, always a pleasure to see.

    Since my accident, I have a gardener who comes to keep the garden tidy, but not a show case. He's learned to leave things a little rough in places for nature, and he takes an interest in whats occurring in the garden.

    I guess it makes a nice change from posh jobs.

    Mike

    Flickr Peak Rambler