Wildlife in the Garden

A beautiful butterfly in the garden

I do love encouraging wildlife into the garden; isn’t it great when something decides to take up residence in your patch?
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Poppies from the Malvern Spring Show

Student's Garden at Malvern Spring ShowIn May I went to the Malvern Spring Show along with my lovely husband and his parents. There was so much to see at the show, I’m not sure I managed to get round to everything. The show gardens were lovely and they gave you a real sense of what can be created with a great deal of knowledge and in some cases thousands of pounds worth of olive trees! I have to say though that of all the gardens, my favourites were the ones created by schools. Local schools had got pupils together to have a go at making their own creations and they were stunning. The main show gardens were clever and classic but the children’s ones outshone them with their sheer inventiveness. They used popular children’s books to help them plan what should go in the garden. They were really beautiful and a real credit to the pupils and the teachers involved (in case you’re wondering, no, my children don’t go to any of the schools).
Painted Tyres in Malvern Student Garden

A lot of the stalls at the show had similar plants to each other – there must be some flower fashion show somewhere that sets the trends for the season! I bought a few things while I was there, some very pretty alpines including a few beautiful blue gentians. I’m going to plant them all together so I can make sure the drainage is right for all of them. I also bought some blackcurrants and a redcurrant, so I’ve popped them in the front garden, always hoping for more fruit. I’m just not sure you can have too much! I also bought a few grasses to help soften an area at the bottom of the garden that I’m intending to sort out soon.

I found a lovely ladybird poppy whose flower is bright red with black spots. I love poppies; I find their tenacity really encouraging, it makes me feel like no matter how many plants I manage to kill there’s always hope for me with poppies. I just bought one of the ladybird poppies thinking that I could harvest the seed myself. It had 2 plump heads on it, getting ready to open out. At home I planted it in the front garden right where the children would see it every morning on their way out but the next morning I came out to find the birds had eaten both heads straight off!
Lisa's Poppy Plant
I was gutted. The birds are having a go at everything at the moment – some fennel plants that were just poking through the earth have been taken completely out! I think I’m turning into Father Jack (from Father Ted) muttering about the birds and being forever persecuted by them.
Poor ravaged poppy.
Lisa's Ladybird Poppies
I’m quite pleased the birds made a snack of it as the plant responded by producing lots more flowers and they’re all opening out beautifully. The children love this plant and keep counting the spots on each flower to see how old they are!

All in all though it was a lovely show at Malvern particularly as it didn’t rain a drop and we actually saw sunshine. For some of the day I was just in a T-shirt! It’s spurred me on and I’m looking forward to putting a few plans I have for the garden into practice, such as planting a bathful of strawberries, getting a greenhouse to replace my very small very ‘make do’ plastic zip-up one.

Blue PoppiesI’ve also planted out a blue poppy this year. I’ve had it in a pot for the past 2 years and it stayed alive but wouldn’t flower at all. So I decided to take a risk and planted it in the front garden. It’s now producing lots of lovely blue poppies and I’m over the moon.
Beautiful blue poppy heads
In January I was out for a walk with a friend and found a load of poppy seed heads so I took one to sprinkle around the place and they’re all starting to come out now. I’m looking forward to finding out what they look like. With all these different poppies I’m going to have to be organised about harvesting the seeds but then again, maybe I’ll just throw them all over the place and be happily surprised when they come up next year.

Lisa

Sunshine, Apples, and Stawberries

Pink Hyacinths close up

Isn’t it amazing how a dash of sunshine and a splash of rain can really kick-start the garden into ‘growing mode’? Taking advantage of the sliver of sunshine yesterday, I ventured into the garden to see how things were coming along.
Pink Hyacinths close up
The hyacinths are open, brightening up some pots with their gorgeous colours not to mention smelling divine. The weeds are romping away (much to my displeasure) but alas!
Purple hyacinths close up
My fruit trees are doing well; I must admit that due to the late frosts and heavy rain I was worried that none of them would start developing fruit after the blossom was so savagely ravaged but hey, I’m in the Scottish Borders and Scottish weather is usually wet and unpredictable, to say the least.

My dwarf apple trees are developing the odd couple of fruits; the one planted into the ground is doing much better than the other in a pot and for the first year ever my cherry tree has cherries growing on it! Needless to say, my boys and I are looking forward to tasting them once ripe. Though, my laid-back approach to the birds might have to go, as they’ve already been eyeing up my potential harvest! I’m thinking of trying bird netting — does anyone have any tips on how to deter birds without actually frightening them from the garden?

My strawberry plant has suffered quite a bit and after the fruits ripen I think I’ll have to replace it, poor thing is only in its second year but it hasn’t done well with the erratic weather at all so any suggestions on strawberry varieties suited to Scottish weather would be greatly appreciated. I hope we all get some decent weather soon!

Take care, Nicole :-)

Bugs Galore!

Primrose Garden Bird bath

How typical! It is exactly at this time of year, when all we want to do is enjoy some time in the garden – planting, lounging and gorging on barbecues – that all those bugs and creepy crawlies seem to have the same idea and come out to spend some time in the garden with us or even try to steal a bit of bbq sauce!

Obviously, some bugs can be very beneficial to gardeners, for example without the hard work of bees, our flowers wouldn’t be pollinated; but if you are starting to feel a bit overrun with creepy crawlies, there are a variety of ways you can control their numbers.

Insects and other bugs form a large part of many birds’ diet. Therefore, as logic goes, increase the number of birds in your garden and the number of bugs will decrease. You can do several things to encourage birds back into your garden: get a birdbath to provide them with a ready source of water; bird houses offer welcome shelter; leave some seeds on a bird feeder and watch the birds flock to it!

Another way to dispose of these unwanted pests is to invest in a trap or insect killer. Bug zappers use UV light to attract flies, mosquitoes and other flying insects before killing them quickly when the unfortunate bug gets close enough. However, if this sounds too cruel and you prefer a more humane solution that doesn’t kill the critter, try using citronella. This scent is pleasant to humans but pungent to insects and will have them flying or crawling away as fast as possible! Handily, you can find candles infused with citronella so for a bargain price you can add a little atmosphere to your garden at the same time as keeping those creepy crawlies at a safe distance.