June – As my donated compost bin was nearly full, I advertised on Freegle for another one, and within a few days someone had replied to say they had one they no longer needed. I put this one at the bottom of the garden, alongside an old planter which had rotted through the middle, so it was effectively hollow. This will be my open compost bin, with the closed one next to it. As the planter has feet, this means there is a gap underneath for wildlife to come in and out. This meant I no longer needed my brown bin for garden waste, so I phoned Tewkesbury Borough Council up and asked them to collect it, saving me £45 per year.
Referring back to Blog 3 (where I planted two packs of Grow Wild seeds in my rose flower-bed on 1/3/17), I can report that some wild flowers have appeared. I now have yellow snapdragons (Antirrhinum Majus), corn poppy, corn cockle and yarrow (a perennial whose flower heads are liked by solitary bees and wasps, and whose foliage is liked by beetles and moths).
In the “hay meadow” section of my lawn (i.e. uncut and left to nature), white clover, red clover, buttercups, mushrooms and self heal are growing. It is alive with bees, and I have noticed that birds and the hedgehog are foraging in there a lot. On 25/6/17 I spotted a scarlet Tiger Moth on my broccoli leaves – it was black with red spots and was quite eye-catching. The next day, I found the tiniest baby frog nestling among the leaves of my fig plant. On 28/6/17 my daughter and I had the delight of seeing the adolescent hedgehog at 9:40pm. As it was not yet dark, we could clearly see it foraging in the “hay meadow” section of my lawn. A few days earlier, we had been to Slimbridge and purchased some I love Hedgehogs food in the shop (endorsed by the British Hedgehogs Society). I had been leaving a tablespoonful out on a saucer every night with some dried mealworms, and last night it had been eaten and I actually saw it eating from the saucer tonight, so at least I know it is a hedgehog eating it and not a rat! I had to put specialised food out, as cat biscuits and cat meat had also been suggested, but I did not want all the neighbourhood cats tucking in and my cat is already a bit overweight!
To add to my herbs in pots, I purchased some origanum (marjoram), which has small pink flowers and attracts bumblebees and butterflies such as the Gatekeeper. I also bought some more thymus (creeping lilac variety of thyme), which is loved by honeybees and bumblebees.
July – The vegetable patch is progressing really well, and I have been able to pick fresh vegetables every day for dinner. So far I have had runner beans, broad beans, peas, courgettes, carrots, potatoes, cucumber, radish, lettuce, beetroot, broccoli, figs, strawberries and onions. 6/7/17 – My broccoli leaves appear to have been munched. When I turned them over, the underside of some of the leaves were covered with black and yellow caterpillars. I identified them as those of the large cabbage white butterfly. Apparently this attacks brassica vegetables, so I am going to harvest the broccoli, then blanch and freeze it. There were also a few small green caterpillars, and those were of the small cabbage white butterfly.
August – I spotted several different species of butterfly on my Buddleia: Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell and Meadow Brown.
I decided to follow the advice found in the Spring Edition of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s magazine. It suggested making a mini pond to help encourage insects and amphibians to your garden. I made one out of an old stone planter, which I lined with an offcut of pondliner (donated on Freegle). I put bricks on the inside and two marginal plants (yellow Iris and water mint) plus oxygenating plants (Hornwort). I lined the inside with stones of various sizes, and draped hessian cloth over the four corners plus made steps on one side with bricks to enable wildlife to come in and out of the pond safely. I then filled the pond up with rainwater. My pond only measures 65cm x 80cm (see below), but it will be interesting to see which visitors move in as I have already seen several baby frogs in the garden recently.