Our Alpine Leaf Bird Bath in the Sunday Express!

sunday express Alpine Leaf Bird Bath

features_in_sundayexpress We are very proud that one of our favourite bird baths was featured in this weekend’s Sunday Express Magazine as a recommended garden purchase.

The Alpine Leaf Bird Bath has a leaf and vine motif which will not only look beautiful, but also help attracting birds to your garden.

Alpine Leaf Bird Bath from Primrose

It is made from lightweight and durable material with a natural stone effect and is guaranteed to provide an attractive focal point for your garden. Most of all it is UV and frost resistant allowing you to keep it in your garden all year round.

Doesn’t it look gorgeous?

wedding-meCat works in the marketing team and is responsible for online marketing, social media and the newsletter.

She spends most of her time reading about a variety of interesting facts, such as oddly named Canadian towns, obscure holidays and unusual gardening.

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Creating a Creature-Friendly Garden

There are many advantages to encouraging wildlife to thrive in your garden. Not only is it fascinating to witness nature up close (especially if you have children), but encouraging certain types of creatures to take up residence in your garden will act as a natural deterrent for many common pests.

Hedgehog Eating food in the garden
For example:

Birds make a valuable addition to any garden as they will eat most insects, with certain kinds of birds mercifully enjoying snacking on slugs and snails. Pest-eating birds include: robins, magpies, wrens, song thrushes, blackbirds and fieldfares.

While insects are amongst the pests you want to eradicate, there are some insects that are actually useful to have in your garden.

Ladybirds, lacewings, parasitic species of wasps, hoverflies and beetles are among the good kinds of insects who like to eat other pests common to UK gardens.

Other creatures to encourage are hedgehogs, frogs, toads, bats and newts, all of which enjoy eating the pests you hate as part of their daily diet.

So if you want to attract (the right kind of) wildlife to your garden, try incorporating some of these useful features:

Garden pond – Ponds are loved by many creatures, such as frogs, dragonflies and newts, which all need water to breed; birds which use them to drink and bathe, and water boatmen, which live on the bottom of ponds and consume algae and plant debris.

Compost heap – A compost heap provides a place for hedgehogs to hibernate and for slowworms to breed; it will also supply valuable compost that will naturally fertilise your garden’s soil.

Long grass and nettles – Long grassy areas will attract insects, provide shelter for animals, and food for predators.

Thick hedge – A hedge gives nesting areas and cover for birds, while berries provide food during the winter.

Logs – Logs provide an excellent hiding place for all sorts of amphibians, frogs and ground beetles.

Food for Wildlife

Providing food doesn’t have to just mean hanging a bird feeder or throwing out some nuts for the squirrels. In the autumn and winter months, berries and seeds are in plentiful supply, providing food for birds and many other insects.

The garden plant Pyracantha provides berries as well as shelter for birds and support for insects; it can also be trained against a wall.

Pyracantha plant provides tasty berries for garden wildlife
Pyracantha

Summer provides you with many options for food. Plants that are rich in nectar can encourage predators such as wasps and hoverflies. Fennel, Dill and Aster plants provide food for many insects, as well as flowers such as Candytuft, Aubrieta and Wallflower, and shrubs such as Viburnum and Buddleia. You should try and include at least one nectar-rich plant for bumblebees.

Shelter

For a wildlife friendly garden, shelter is vital to protect the creatures from predators, give a place to nest, and somewhere to hibernate. Trees and plants such as Evergreen provide all-year round cover.

Rose, Pyracantha and Mahonia shrubs are an excellent choice for nesting and provide berries and hips to eat. Climbers provide much needed protection, camouflage and nesting spots for birds. Bats and hedgehogs can be lured into the garden with a compost heap or piles of leaves, though if you’ve got the cash to spend you can buy a special box shaped house where hedgehogs can hibernate and bats can sleep.

Image Credits: Sids 1 and Muffet

This is a guest post written by Amy Fowler for Garden Topsoil Direct; specialists in compost delivery across the UK. Find out more on their Facebook page or find out more about Amy on Twitter.

Window Gardening

Mini meadow for creepy crawlies‘Tis a strange thing, this gardening bug: I find myself constantly thinking about the garden and what needs done in it, what plants I could add to the collection, as well as spending hours pottering about when the weather gives me the chance to get outside. I’ve also found that I frequently stand at my window looking out to the garden contemplating which project to undertake next.

It was during one of these ‘window gardening’ sessions that I saw a little drama unfolding by the mini pond. As mentioned in previous blog posts, our mini pond is frequently used by the birds in our garden and yesterday must’ve been bathing day because they all wanted a go at the same time! The larger female blackbirds chased the little ones away every time they landed to have a drink/wash until eventually the blackbirds just gave up and carried on bathing regardless of the little onlookers.
Birds at mini pond
It was a complete delight to watch the blue tits flutter to and fro the archway with honeysuckle on it, to the escallonia then sneaking their way to the pond. I’m sure I spotted a little wren amongst them but unfortunately the zoom on my camera didn’t capture it in time. It seemed to be enjoying itself, getting lost amongst the tall plants in our mini meadow which is bursting into bloom. The house sparrows kept their distance from the drama sitting happily on the fence observing what was going on.

I was so engrossed watching all this happen that my husband ended up looking for me and finding me gazing out of the bedroom window onto the garden. He just walked away shaking his head. I reckon he needs to be bitten by the gardening bug too, but then again he does do the hard graft so maybe he has it a little. I was pleased to see that the seeds recently sown in the willow planters for veg have germinated so I’ll be thinning them out soon. I noticed one of the female blackbirds eyeing up my runner beans then making herself comfortable on our bench looking up to the window feigning complete innocence so if any of the runner beans vanish before I get the chance to pick any I’ve got a pretty good idea who the culprit could be.
Bird on bench in garden
Do you have any ‘window gardening’ sessions where you witness little dramas unfolding in the garden? I can guarantee that I’ll be having more and will be investing in a better camera to share what I find with you all.

Happy gardening!

Nicole :-)

Cutting Sweetpeas in a Thunderstorm

Fog starting to lift on distant hills
I was woken up earlier than usual the other morning by the rumbling of thunder and crack of lightning. Daring a peek outside, I was greeted by the sight of a torrential downpour. The sky was darkened by thick grey clouds and an eerie fog had settled over the distant hills creating a rather gloomy atmosphere. I reckoned that it was far too early to get up, being 6.30 AM. Plus, the weather wasn’t exactly good for gardening, let alone pegging out the washing, so I headed back to bed.

After finally dropping back off to sleep with the sound of the rain lulling me into a deep slumber, I was rudely awoken by something bashing off my blind. Reaching for my specs, still half-asleep, I got up to investigate. Upon moving the blind out a little to look I found myself face to face with a little blue tit. I don’t know which one of us was more shocked – my squeak of fright was drowned out by a loud chirping.

I closed the curtain over sure I was dreaming and had another peek; nope! There was definitely a wee bird inside my bedroom sitting on my window ledge! Leaning over slowly so I didn’t scare it I lifted the latch and let it outside watching as it flew away to the shelter of the trees. I think it may have come in during the bad bit of the thunderstorm and the poor thing couldn’t get back out. I’m relieved that it didn’t injure itself and I didn’t dare try to take a picture because I think it would’ve scared it more than it already was.
Thunder clouds forming over my garden
Who needs an alarm clock when the wildlife pops in for an early morning visit? I was now thoroughly awake so I decided to venture outside regardless of the weather. My back garden was waterlogged so I didn’t bother trekking up it to check on my roses and butterfly bush which from the window look like they’re blooming; I’ll check those when the risk of my shoes getting stuck in mud is gone. The word ‘quagmire’ may be more appropriate to describe the waterlogged mess that is my garden at the moment.
Sweetpea experiment - a complete flop
I was happy to notice that the sweetpeas are blooming and were ready to cut although my experiment of growing a dwarf variety in a two-tier planter is a complete flop. Next year my sweetpeas will be grown in the traditional way, climbing up a support instead of hanging down! Despite another rumble of thunder and black clouds rolling in I nipped inside for my pruners and cut some to put in a vase. If I can’t get out to garden then what the heck, I might as well bring some of the garden indoors to brighten up my living room on yet another wet and washed out day.

My cut bunch of sweetpeas

I noticed that the carrots are almost ready to harvest so I’m hoping that they have remained pest free in the coldframe but we shall see. There’s not a lot that I can do in this weather so I think it’s a great opportunity to start planning things for next year, time to get the plant catalogues out!

Happy gardening!
Nicole

The Serenity of the Garden

Nicole's Garden

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