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Gardening for Wildlife : Part 2

June 15, 2019



I grow plants for many reasons: to please my eye or to please my soul, to challenge the elements or to challenge my patience, for novelty or for nostalgia, but mostly for the joy in seeing them grow.
 – David Hobson

Our last gardening post was a month and half ago, when we were just starting work on our newly acquired garden space, and it's been a very exciting time. Although we haven't done a huge amount more in terms of developing the garden, we have had lots more visitors, and it's been fascinating to watch our plants grow and flower. The weather has also not been the best for gardening, and so we have sat watching the birds from our back room with the rain pouring down for much of May and the start of June. This post is more of an update then, and with the huge citizen science project Gardenwatch currently underway and June being the Wildlife Trusts 30 Days Wild Challenge, there have been a lot of reasons for us be out in the garden!



Plants



We watched patiently as the lupin, foxglove and lavender grew and grew and produced the most amazing flowers. They all attracted pollinators as we had hoped and the foxglove just keeps growing. The azalea, which proved popular with the bees, only blooms in spring so has now faded until it flowers again next year. We planted more wildflower seeds in the back area and in our filled in fountain area, buying specific bee and butterfly mixes with around 1000 seeds in each. The ones already planted have been slow to grow on the most part but some have shot up recently and will hopefully be flowering soon. I have been crouched down every evening trying to tell if they have grown at all!  We also took a different attitude to the 'weeds' which have grown back between paving slabs and around the rest of the garden. As the garden is already mostly concrete, we decided to leave them as they are important for pollinators and other animals. For example, dandelions, brambles, nettles and others we would usually think about removing are very popular with bees. The way we see it the more green the better.

Birds



We continued to put out bird food regularly since our last post and it has really been bringing them in. Blue tits, great tits and coal tits returned on a regular basis, and more recently we have seen that their hard work has paid off with juveniles of all three species now coming to the feeders frequently. We like to think that their success was in part due to the food we provided! We have also been getting woodpigeons, magpies, and now a pair of collared doves. The mealworms have proved extremely popular with a group of starlings as well as their young, and they often swarm the feeder in groups of 10 to 20, usually as soon as the food goes out. Their antics have been very entertaining although magpies occasionally chase them off trying to get to the mealworms themselves. A nuthatch has been another exciting regular visitor, and our new finch feeder filled with nyjer seed has brought in a goldfinch twice now. We have also seen house sparrows, robins and their young, dunnocks and black birds. 


The squirrel...


After buying a seed bell a few weeks back and it mysteriously disappearing, we finally found out who the culprit was. A cheeky grey squirrel started appearing recently and eating seed out of the bowl, and when that was exhausted it moved on the the feeders themselves!


So there we are, just a brief look into what's being going on since we started at the end of April. What is fantastic and so surprising is how little needs to be done to start bringing wildlife into the garden. Just providing the right kinds of food and habitat can attract a whole variety of species. Next time we are going to focus on all the invertebrates we can find, as well as some of the plants which have grown just from taking a hands off approach. Hopefully our wildflowers will have come on a lot too!

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