Friday, 2 April 2010

End of month views March 2010

Is this a late April Fools? Well… yes, in a way it is! Oh yes, the return of snow was real earlier in the week. In reality, it did add to this posting for March being late. Oh yes… that and the April Fool that would be me! Then the joke was on me late last night as I went to post this.

A glitch with Blogger and I went back to square something. Fortunately, I write my posts on a word doc so I have that to pull for text although I do change it around between the two. Fortunately, my photos remained in my post. Although, this is the reality of blogging at odd times I do enjoy it. I'm thinking you know that already.

So let's see if I can salvage this original post so it makes sense. Now, what was I saying last night? Yep, as you might guess today this is a chatty post. Today you'll find a wildlife mystery solved and an unexpected piece of planting. There's a couple of short videos too so perhaps if you have time you might like to pour yourself a cuppa... one should do ;-)



Yesterday was my birthday... yep I was born an April Fool! Now, I wonder if you guess who came for a pre birthday meal and a drink the night before my birthday and kept me away from posting this first time around?

A clue was given to possible guests in my snowy Wordless posting on Wednesday. Mm… I wondered if anyone would spot it. Here’s another clue…


Clicking on photos will enlarge them.


Nope? Okay, hands up I did Google this one. Although, not surprisingly, there were few images to help out with an ID. It did have my suspicions though. Lol... yes the print on the left was from a wellington boot ;-)

With wellies on, during Wednesday morning at around 8:30am (hence the varying brightness with the following images) I went out for a wander with my camera. Miss Marple that I was, I was looking for supporting evidence...



Oh… and I found it … absolutely conclusive in my opinion too. I knew it wasn’t tracks from one of the cats that pass regularly through my garden. The footprints I was looking at were too small and too close together.




Was it a bird? Lol… no, out in the snow it was Superhog! Through watching the hedgehogs visit my garden over the last couple of years, I was very familiar with the most common routes they take. The tracks in the snow were very clear to see following these routes.

Finally, the hedgehogs in my area look like they are out of hibernation and have been out and about again. I have to say I was most surprised that they were out looking for food when there was snow on the ground.

Okay, stage two had to be seeing to fully believe the hedgehogs were back. I set up an outside IR camera opposite the recently reinstated Hedgehog Manor feeding station and waited by my monitor on Wednesday evening.

I was doing other stuff on the PC at the same time and the outside camera image was showing at the top right of my screen. I love being able to do this. My daughter was blowing up balloons and decorating the room for my birthday all around me as I watched. I was part-time assisting by tying the knots in the balloons... nobody seems to like doing that job ;-)

Now, I have to say that the chances of seeing the hedgehogs live in the evening before midnight at any time of year can be slim. I don't sit glued to my monitor every evening either. One of the best times to see them tends to be at dusk when they tend to appear. What about now when its cold? I didn't know the answer to that.

However, even with sightings being a slim chance at the moment, it still doesn’t put me off watching at all. In fact it makes the whole thing much more special for me. So, on the very first evening of the year watching for hedgehogs with my camera was I lucky?

Unbelievably yes… and what a thrill especially as I would take a guess that I actually saw two! Now, the video below at just over a minute has been edited. I was away from the screen when this hedgehog arrived. I recorded it eat for a solid ten minutes. It definitely looked hungry.

There is music added to these videos for those who may need to turn this down. Don't know what's going on with this first video hopefully it will sort itself out. I didn't do anything any different with the upload.




So what makes me think that I saw two hedgehogs on Wednesday night? Well, the first one discovered the food around the dish and on the paving stone inside the feeding station. Hedgehogs do seem to remember where they find food. Let’s now look at the second visitor for last night…




For those who can’t view the video above, the hedgehog drinks water from the dish in front of the two pots and doesn’t find the dish of food. It is using its snout to sniff out food and only finds a few crushed peanuts in the foreground. I felt myself wanting to shout out “It’s behind you!”.






Now, my post title suggests this to be the end of the month view of the garden. Let's get on with that now. Although I should add that Hedgehog Manor does appear again. I'm joining The Patient Gardener and other bloggers with this posting. To see other posts for this month head over to Helen's post.

It’s fair to say that not a huge amount as changed in the borders since the end of February. More buds, bulbs in flower and my first definite shrub casualty of this winter… my pittosporum with silver green foliage. I am very sorry to lose that one. All leaves have turned brown and are falling off now.

What about progress with the new pond? Well the image below shows the honest truth. Nothing has been placed for the photo. I’m still at the marking out shapes stage. I am using my hose for an outline shape and orange twine and canes to mark lines from surrounding areas.




At the moment I am finding myself looking at the viewpoints from areas all around the site of the pond and considering how they can all connect. As my garden is small I feel it is important that areas flow together rather than stand alone.

My 'eye' told me some turf had to be lifted ;-) You can see the almost and before photos below.





The completed job shows the view back across the garden from behind the pond site in front of my hedge. The shape draws you towards/away from the pond now. You can see the weather had changed now too. I carried on getting a little wet and muddy later!

I placed the lifted grass turf on a tarpaulin and dragged it to an area beneath my hedge and stacked it grass side down there where it will rot down in time.




I am now wondering why I never made this change before now. Ah... now I do know the answer to that one... my daughters. This area of grass could take a good sized rectangular paddling/swimming pool that was used during warm summers. All gardens evolve with use over the years especially when children are young. One day I'd like to get round to posting on this.

Plants removed, divided and potted up from the pond site were kept in the sheltered position under my pergola over the winter. I wanted this pathway back now as it leads to my rotary dryer and Arbour.

For the short term I have laid the potted plants on the new border space. I’m not in a hurry to plant this new area.




I was however, in a hurry to establish a new feeding station location for hedgehogs under my pergola. This should be better as it will be further away from the guinea pigs which will be coming outside again in the next month. They can be noisy at times and are up and about during the night too.

Hedgehog Manor was the name chosen for the adopted plastic rabbit/guinea pig hutch that we no longer use. It gives a dry area inside for food with an additional room for an evening nap.

Originally I had a clear Perspex front to it with an opening of 13cm x13cm for the hedgehogs to get in and at the same time keeping the rain out. Unfortunately in its previous location birds would wander in and a very distressed Song Thrush couldn’t get out and I had to carefully open it up. I stopped using it there after that.

Although I embrace encouraging birds and wildlife to my garden I also consider how I place any features such as this in my garden. Hedgehog Manor is a good size as you can see in the video and photos. The one thing that offended my eye with this was the green plastic roof.

Last Autumn, I bought a piece of corrugated clear Perspex with the intention of adding a green planted roof to my bird table. I couldn’t get a small bit. Looking at the plants over wintered in trays sitting in my newly extended border I found myself with a storage solution for both!




By cutting a piece of corrugated Perspex to a size that covered the roof I laid it on top. Just in case this didn’t work I didn’t attach it. With the ridges running horizontally I began filling them with garden soil from the new pond area. My thoughts were that the ridges would hold soil and some moisture as well.

I should say I felt like a child again playing at a sand pit! With everything a little damp I got well messy too as did everything I touched with my muddy gloves. I was pretty confident that the trays of London pride would have formed a mat of roots and this would give me the edge tiles that would hold everything in place. Yep it worked. I tipped them out and started laying my alternative green roof!




Another reason for choosing the trays of London pride was that they were planted already as a mat of ground cover on the path side opposite. When walking back and forth the black grasses nearby then caught my eye.

Ah… I also had pots of lifted and divided black grasses sitting waiting for a new home. Surprisingly enough I managed to get a good covering of soil over the roof. I could actually plant my black grasses there too.

Tying the ground planting of grasses to the roof, I found an empty pot and filled it with some grasses too. We now have a black grass river over our green roof. I can’t wait to see how this will look by the time the London Pride will flower.

You might also notice that I added a tray’s worth of London pride inside the hutch too. Don’t know if that will work but though it might make it more worth exploring for passing hedgehogs. Yes… the pink paving slab will need to go now as it catches my eye now. Perhaps I could pick up a piece of slate! Now, I’ve always fancied slate paving :-)

Job done, post done and perhaps your attention well gone :-) All that’s left to say now is I watched for hedgehogs last night but didn’t see any. I looked at the food dish this morning and it’s very clear to see a snout has been in there! Great news. I knew setting up a new feeding station in a different area of the garden would be a risky move.

Expecting that everyone will be busy with family this weekend (with perhaps a generous sprinkling of garden fever) I’ll not post again for a few days. You’ve probably heard enough from me for now anyway :-)

However, I have one final ask… do you have any garden projects planned for this weekend? How about gardenwatching… what do you think you will see? I’d like to wish you a great weekend, however you plan to spend it :-D


All garden photos shown above were taken during the last week of March 2010. The videos were recorded on March 31st 2010.

13 comments:

Lisa at Greenbow said...

What fun that the Hedgehogs came back in time to help you celebrate your birthday. Happy Birthday!! Boy, do I ever have thoughts about projects in the garden. I have several ideas. They might even happen this year. We are way ahead in garden work this year. It has been so much warmer than normal. 20 degrees warmer than normal. I hope this isn't a sighn of what will be during the summer. Your garden projects look so nice. I can't wait to see your pond remodel. Family are coming to visit this weekend. It will be fun. I hope you enjoy your weekend too.

shirl said...

Hi again Lisa, it certainly was! Thank-you :-) Yes, the temperature change is perhaps a warning to us. Have heard a hot summer is being predicated here.

Lol… yes, I do love to hear about them too… what gardener doesn’t want to hear about another’s garden project. Looking forward to the great reveal of your ideas/plans for 2010 :-D

Thanks, I enjoy the little projects just as much as the bigger ones. They always make me smile as usually they are spontaneous and unplanned ideas. Yes, looking forward to seeing the pond remodel myself too. Have a few ideas but just have to consider how they would work if it all.

Thank-you, have fun with your family this weekend :-D

nancybond said...

A belated Happy Birthday, Shirl! Your gardens are so lovely. I always enjoy my visits to your site, especially the videos. :) Happy Easter.

Southern Lady said...

Hope you had a wonderful birthday! My daughter and I enjoyed the hedgehog video. She said that it sounds like a pet store in your yard; you see we do not have hedgehogs or guinea pigs in the wild. People do buy them and keep them as pets. Your pond will be beautiful soon. What a good idea to disguise the roof of the house with plants! Hope you have a wonderful weekend. Carla

patientgardener said...

Happy Birthday Shirl and thanks for joining in again this month. Hopefully next month we will really have something to show for our hard work. I do enjoy seeing your wildlife shots. By the way it looks like some Great Tits have taken up residence in the bird box my eldest made last year which will be a real result

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

That was a fun post! I drank my diet Pepsi since I didn't have a cuppa nearby :)
Happy Birthday!
I enjoyed seeing the Hedgehogs. How big are they? They seem larger than I had pictured.
Your garden projects turned out really nice. If the weather cooperates we'd like to paint the new shed and build a little "deck" to go in front.

Jim Groble said...

A belated happy birthday. Also Happy Easter. You have a blue tarp, so do U. I think every gardener has one. jim

Midmarsh John said...

Many happy returns for your birthday Shirl. My you have been busy lately. I like the green, green roof idea. Great to see the Hedgehog has survived the harsh Winter temperatures.

Blogger was indeed playing silly billies yesterday. I had great trouble trying to comment on several blogs as well as trying to correct my own.

Enjoy the long weekend.

Orchids and Nature said...

I enjoyed your Hedgehog videos very much, its time I set my video camera into night mode when the visitors of the night arrive in my garden.

Rothschild Orchid said...

Happy Easter Shirl

RO xxx

Juliet said...

A late happy birthday, Shirl, and a happy Easter too!

I hope your hedgehogs are OK, after being out and about when it was so cold.

I like the green roof idea. We have been busy spreading more woodchip around our borders - and the blackbirds have been busy digging it up and scattering it over the lawn! Our next job is to plant potatoes in planters - no projects planned though as we're still hoping to move soon.

shirl said...

Hello everyone, I hope you all had a good weekend. Thanks for all your kind birthday wishes :-D

Nancy, thanks, a bit of work in progress going on at the moment and with the rain and winds now I haven’t been able to get out again. Thanks, I do have fun doing videos :-D

Carla,thanks, I am always thrilled to hear when people watch my videos with their children. Lol, yes I can see why you thought that. I missed one word out though… hutch ;-) The guinea pigs have good sized indoor cages for the winter months and go into a hutch outdoors for the summer. It was when out feeding them late one evening that I first spotted hedgehogs in my garden. I’m looking forward to seeing the roof planting grow and flower :-D

Helen, thanks, sorry I missed your link initially. Sorted that later. Yes, next month will be different. I’m glad you enjoy the wildlife stuff too. Its garden views with a little bit of a cheat. Great news on the nestbox. Your son will be thrilled too :-D

Catherine, thanks, delighted you enjoyed it! Hedgehogs can vary in size. You can see the difference when a smaller or larger on comes by. My books suggest their body is 20-30cm (7.9 ins-11.8ins). That would be its length. I see them as a round guinea pig size. Thanks, I’ve started small on the projects front for the moment. Ah… the shed paint, we need to do that one too. Like the sound of your deck for it :-D

Jim, yep, ours was bought for running along our hedge when we trim it. We cut it to get two long strips and it has been in use for all sorts as you will know yourself :-D

John, thanks, I’m looking forward to seeing this green roof grow and flower. Yes, it is great to see the hogs out again. Good to see Honey back too. Oh dear hope blogger doesn’t make a habit of behaving badly. I’m guessing the shear increase in bloggers will be playing a factor too.

David, thanks, I do enjoy watching the hogs at night and deciding which bit to use. Looking forward to see any videos you might take :-D

RO, thanks, hope you had a good time :-D

Juliet, thanks, yep the hogs seem to be fine and I’m delighted that at least one is regularly visiting the new feeding station. Phew! Yep, the roof already looks okay for the moment but will really knit together in a few months. Lol on the blackbirds. We have that problem too. it is a pest though! Potatoes in planters… good idea when you are considering moving. You can do a lot with pots can’t you :-D

GardenerX said...

I love the video footage of the hedgehogs!!! brilliant. Thanks for sharing