Flashback: A wildlife garden in August

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Simon’s garden is the opposite of neat and manicured – and this is all for the better as it is a shared garden, used by both locals and residents living further away. And these users – birds, insects, reptiles, butterflies and mammals – appreciate his garden, coming back to feed and drink, or living there quite happily. I’m rather envious of this as my garden doesn’t attract quite as many different species as Simon’s. Woodpeckers, blackcaps, wood warblers, goldfinches, greenfinches, frogs, blackbirds … these are just an example. So he took me on a garden tour and gave me tips along the way. We did this in August so a lot of colour had unfortunately gone, but there were still many good ideas.

The front garden

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Sink pond in the front garden, which is often used by garden birds having a ‘bath’.
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Valerian has been used as a medicinal herb since at least the time of ancient Greece. It is usually used for sleep disorders, such as insomnia.

 

 

The back garden

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Verbena. According to the Wildlife Trust, there are around 250 species of verbena. They are very useful plants providing nectar for butterflies, bees and other pollinators.
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Sink garden. At the top there is a gap caused by a plant dying in the 2018 summer drought, (even rock gardens need watering but due to the high drainage it’s difficult). There is also thrift, small leaves of thyme and a red campion seedling (weed that can be moved). Middle right, are stonecrop and thrift. Dominating slightly are the silvery leaves of dianthus (Latin name) in the middle bottom. There are a few ox eye daisies dotted around.
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Water butts capture rain water which can then be used to water plants. Very handy, especially in a drought. A water butt is something I keep meaning to buy.
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Buddleia, echinacea, crocosmia and evening primrose
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Crocosmia, valerian and red campion
Above left, black Niger seed attracts goldfinches. A plastic bottle prevents rats, mice and squirrels from climbing up. Above right, a plant pot collects leftovers from peanuts. Often birds can be found in the plant pot, enjoying their breakfast leftovers!
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The main pond, with frogbit on the surface and wormwood in the foreground. At the back, behind the stone turtle, is a frog hideaway. Simon has three ponds altogether – two in the back garden and a small sink pond in the front, often used by birds for washing.
A visitor and probable resident – woodpecker and frog. Simon has rescued tadpoles from elsewhere on a couple of occasions, when the water levels have dropped because of the weather or the pond has become stagnant. They lived in a second hand aquarium in his house until ready to move into the garden pond.
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Nest boxes in an old tree. Several birds have lived – and reared their young here – over the years.

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Fig tree
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Flower of Kent apple tree. This is the variety of apple Isaac Newton saw falling to the ground in 1666 – and inspired his theory of gravity.

Facts of the Day

1. The single easiest way to add wildlife value to a garden is to install a pond. It doesn’t matter how small. Consider adding a plank of wood to help any wildlife that might fall in.
2. If you want to grow vegetables, it’s best to stop using chemical pesticides. These upset the natural balance and can be lethal for wildlife (and not just the ‘pests’. 
3. A compost heap is an essential for a wildlife garden. It cuts down the waste sent to landfill and provides a habitat for a number of insects – which can be a good food source for hedgehogs and other animals.
(Facts from The Wildlife Trust: https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/gardening)
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11 thoughts on “Flashback: A wildlife garden in August

      1. Yes it is Clare. I had a little paradise in my yard until the rats arrived from our backyard neighbor. I hated going outside in the side yard and the backyard; then, the following year we had the first Polar Vortex, then the second Polar Vortex and I lost my butterfly garden and many plants. I never replanted anything as I lost my enthusiasm for it. But I still like to admire a garden like Simon’s … a lot of love went into this garden.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m thinking maybe when I am retired … right now I work from home and have since 2011.
        I started walking in 2011 and now had to take the time needed for a nice garden in the mornings, opting to walk instead. I used to go out and work in the garden all Summer long for about 2 hours every day before going to work back when I worked on site. Then I lost most everything. Once I’m retired, I can still walk in the early morning when it is cooler plus work in the garden. Retirement is a way off though – another 4-5 years I think.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Me too Clare – I went on a long walk today and it was very cold – it was like a late November day. I can never remember being this bundled up this early in the year and we had some sleet and snow flurries yesterday as well – way too early for that. I walked though despite the cold – as long as it is not icy, I’ll go out – afraid I’ll fall, but I took the bus for years to downtown Detroit, so have cold weather gear from all those years. I don’t mind piling on layers just to go for a walk – so much to see at parks especially.

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  1. What a pretty garden and I love that there is a lot of life in it. I have some flowers in my garden and mostly lizards and doves that visit, oh and bees. I leave out water and food for the birds and they love our trees out by the pool. I love gardening. I am not the best at it and Arizona desert weather can be hard to grow things in but I try and have a lot of fun at it. Today I made a little fairy garden with a couple of Terra cotta pots my mother-in-law gave me
    https://ourlittleredhouseblog.wordpress.com/2018/08/11/busy-bees/
    https://ourlittleredhouseblog.wordpress.com/2018/05/27/breakfast-in-the-garden/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I think the best gardens are the ones with life in them! 🙂 Is it difficult to grow plants in Arizona? It must be very hot there. I love the idea of a little fairy garden.

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