Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Hedgehog in me Heuchera!

Screen grabs from video footage taken this evening just after 10pm.

This post was published by Shirley for the blog shirls gardenwatch

Monday, 15 August 2011

August Blooms: GBBD

August Perseid Meteor shower over for another year, it’s now time to seek out the star performers of the garden. If you’d like to see lots and lots of garden stars and starlets from all over the world head over to the monthly blogger event that is Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day. Your host Carol and many blogging friends will be waiting for you :-)

Usually my photos for my GBBD post are taken on the day. However, we’ve had a fair bit of rain and wind this past while. A brief camera outing yesterday morning captured the images shown below.

Drumstick alliums are finally in flower and are attracting lots of insects including bees and many Hoverflies. Taking photos of these blooms are tricky as the stems catch the wind easily and the bees don't stay still long :-)

Japanese Anemones are a serious favourite in my garden and my plantings are slowly increasing. I am delighted about that. I think the variety above is September Charm.

I have another two pink varieties in flower too and the white ones are just beginning to open. Once again this is a great flower for insects – seen above with Hoverflies.

The seed heads of my yellow Meconopsis are looking great just now. I plan to collect them soon. This plant is surrounded by the Japanese Anemones at the moment.

Finally to a border view in my back garden which shows that we’ve not been having drought issues here. All greens and foliage are wonderfully lush.

Note the chunky stone pavement in the middle which I added this year to make it easier to reach the bird feeders hanging on the tree here. It works a treat and will be particularly handy in the winter months.

Flowering with the Drumstick Alliums above there is Red Campion and Borage in the background. Astilbe Sprite is in the foreground with Heuchera and Thalictrum delavayi 'Hewitt's Double' (from memory) in the middle. I love those tiny purple flowers of the Thalictrum.

The pink/purple flower spikes on the right I don’t have an ID for. I do remember they were labelled as a Piet Oudolf collection and bought fairly locally. The bees and Hoverflies love it. I’d welcome an ID if anyone recognises it :-D

So… I’m guessing… you’re guessing… we had rain today as I used these photos. Nope, that’s not what prevented my camera from snapping and sharing more blooms.

Today, was a lovely warm day and I managed to catch up on a few garden jobs needing my attention – naturally I took this opportunity to mix up the plantings again too and I had so much fun that I forgot to take my photos :-)

Other plants in flower in my garden at the moment include Rose Madam Carriere, Clematis Niobe, Picardy and another that I need to find a label to ID.

Nepata Walker’s Low was flowering too as was Erysimum 'Bowles' Mauve', a Rhodendron (small yellow bells) and a perennial with tall spires of pink flowers that are loved by insects – I’d love to find the label for that one too.

Knautia Mars Midget is still holding on to flowers in my front garden where the Red Campion growing there is finally bowing out. I’ll collect Red Campion seed capsules if it’s dry tomorrow then cut the plants to the ground so any younger plants have a chance to flower.

So that’s it all wrapped up for another month. I’m a tad late (UK time) in posting this so it will be tomorrow now before I can get browsing the Blogs over at Carol’s. See you then - wishing everyone a Happy GBBD.

That’s the annual Perseid Meteor shower over for this August too. We had a lot of cloud so visibility was hampered. Last night was a clearer sky but disappointingly I never saw a single Meteor. On previous years I have been lucky enough to see them so I do know what we were missing. Ah well… hope you enjoyed some sightings where you are :-)

This post was written by Shirley for the blog shirls gardenwatch.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

The peak of the 2011 Perseids is near…

Take a look outside…have you clouds tonight too? Don’t worry… Saturday morning just before dawn has been suggested to be the busiest time for the annual Perseids Meteor shower here in the UK. Someone correct me here if I have this wrong - other parts of the world will have different times. Please do share yours if you know them.

Perhaps I’ll set an alarm for Saturday… pre blog I never knew this annual spectacle happened. Seriously though… this really is an amazing piece of gardenwatching and I’d definitely recommend it!

I should say, I’m not a science geek but I have to confess to be being absolutely fascinated and blown away to see trails of meteors dart through the sky by my naked eye over the last two years. In my head I’ve heard a whoosh as the meteors dash through the sky but there is probably no sound to be heard... or is there? Maybe I should get out a sound recorder ;-)

Anyway, if this is something that might interest you too there are probably many websites with info. Meteorwatch is the one that has caught my eye again. Here is their video for 2011…

Enjoy your sky watching this weekend :-D

This post was written by Shirley for the blog shirls gardenwatch.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Nature of Scotland Awards

It’s a giant leap from observing and chatting about the nature from a small town garden to the nature conservation of a country but this caught my eye when an email on the Nature of Scotland Awards came in. Feeling it would be a tad remiss of me not to promote this here I am with a few Scottish Scenery pics thrown in :-)

The RSPB have teamed up with the Scotsman newspaper, BBC Scotland, Black Grouse Whisky, SNH and Marine Scotland to recognise and celebrate excellence, innovation and outstanding achievement in Scottish nature conservation.

I’d take a guess that there are a good number of unsung heroes here and if you know any you can see a list of the six categories here. You can nominate suitable initiatives and encourage them to enter. You’ll find full details here.

What is required?

“A summary of no more than 1,000 words, illustrating why your nomination is head and shoulders above the rest.

Succinctly outline the project, initiative or activity. What does it aim to achieve and how did the project or person achieve its objectives? Highlight dates and any partnership working where relevant and provide evidence of any impact made. Please include:

•what makes your nomination outstanding
•evidence of results or expected results
•partnership working
•relevant dates
•any impact on climate change

The closing date for entries is Friday 26 August, the awards are free and easy to enter. The shortlist will be announced in November.”

View from Bridge of Orchy on West Highland Way.

View from Bridge of Orchy on West Highland Way.

Kinshaldy Beach, Tentsmuir Forest.

Finally, a few encouraging words from Stewart Stevenson, Minister for Environment and Climate Change:

"Delivery of conservation is critical to the preservation and quality of Scotland’s biodiversity. The innovation, dedication and hard work of those striving to make a real difference remains more important than ever.

“I encourage those who have done something exceptional for the conservation of Scotland’s precious natural environment to enter the Nature of Scotland Awards and make sure this important work receives the recognition it rightly deserves. I look forward to learning more about these unsung success stories and wish all the applicants the very best of luck!”

This post was written by Shirley for the blog shirls gardenwatch.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

A spot of moonlighting

Car boot itinerary: a half moon (lawn edger - but not for lawn use); two watering cans (it isn’t always raining in Scotland); a garden trug; hand tools; a small bucket of self-sown young plants with water at bottom; gardening gloves and boots. Oh yes… and my small (well used) sack trolley to carry everything from the car park to the garden in one trip ;-)

An hour earlier… back in my garden… there was a small production line going on…

A new bag of compost had been opened. A newspaper had been cut into strips. String was cut into measured lengths. A shallow tray had water just covering the bottom. Self-sown seedlings from my garden (with roots in the water) waited in the departure lounge in preparation for relocation.

Meanwhile a few metres away… leaning on a house wall there were 12 paving slabs waiting their turn for our attention. Let’s just say some relocation of older slabs was necessary and the new ones needed to cover that area. Not exactly fun garden work for a sunny day… so sometimes we've gone out instead ;-)

Okay... why on earth (I hear you say) am I bothering moonlighting on another garden when I have a list of on going projects in my own garden? Well… you know what it’s like when you’ve a huge ironing to do at home and you happily iron for a friend/relative at their house… no?

Getting a tad serious for a minute, as regular visitors to my blog will know, my garden has had the New Zealand flatworm as one of its residents. I have few earthworms. This flatworm was first discovered probably about 15 years ago now.

I’ll not distract this post by repeating what I have said in the past. You can read about my experience in this back post. If you find a flatworm in your garden you should destroy it. If you want to see a photo I posted one here.

Suffice to say, knowing I spotted a flatworm egg during the last month, it would be incredibly irresponsible of me to give away plants from my garden in a pot of soil. As a rule, if I give away plants, it is generally done with soil washed or shaken from the roots.

Last Friday, I lifted self-sown seedlings of Red campion and Borage from my garden. Without any soil, I laid them on some compost which I put on a strip of newspaper. The seedling was rolled up (with bottom folded over) and tied together with string.

The seedling parcel was then left to stand in a shallow amount of water, my theory being that the newspaper would act as a wick and draw up some water helping to dampen the compost which would keep the seedling from drying out.

Great in theory… yes! However, to transport my seedlings to their new garden location I transferred them into a smaller bucket and put a little too much water in it. I also stuffed too many in together. Result… some newspaper plant roll-ups lost their bottoms! No matter, they kept damp until I got to the garden :-)

Expecting the soil in this garden to be compacted and firm (wrong again… note to self… check soil condition prior to planting next time) I took my half-moon lawn edger to prize open a trench for planting. Little prizing was necessary so the job was easy.

A trench strip may have seemed overkill for an informal planting but my thoughts were of survival. I wanted to soak the ground these young plants were going to. I wanted the water to go deep as plants search out water with their roots.

When plants have their roots deeper in the soil, they have a better chance of survival in times of drought. The reality for these plants is that they will get little help from me once I leave them.

So... as much as not wanting to spread flatworms to another garden my 2nd plan for these little newspaper plant parcels was one of an experiment. Will these young plants survive without any more watering once planted? I have plenty more in my garden if they don’t. I'd say definitely worth a try :-)

I planted the Borage in strips together as they can grow tall. My thoughts were that they would need to support each other if it got a little windy as I don't plan to stake them. I also added a few other single plants around the trench to break up the formality.

Based on seeing how these plants grow in my garden, I decided to plant the Red Campion in clumps. Once again, I made a larger hole than they needed and soaked it well. I then clumped these groups together and then repeated this again for another area nearby.

Trenches well watered, they were back filled with the soil that had been removed. Plants then firmed in, they got one more top watering. Job finished then?

Well, not exactly… this is just the beginning! My ultimate goal for these fresh seedlings is for them to grow into strong clumps that will flower then self-seed increasing the number of flowers with each year for this and other parts of the garden.

Granted it will take a couple of years perhaps to really make a big splash of colour but during that time they will attract insects and bees on the way enriching this area for visitors too. It will be fun to watch the garden take shape too.

Talking a step back you can see the section of this garden I was working in with the plants ready for planting in their trenches as they were last Friday at lunchtime...

The mossy strip on the bottom right corner is the edges of a raised bed that has some herbs already planted in it. That’s why I planted the Borage along this path edge... to tie it in with other herbs.

Taking a walk around the path to the left and looking back to the raised bed (back in March when it looked quite different) you can see the area in the middle of the photo between the trees that will get a bit of height and interest for both wildlife and visitors.

Ah yes… the visitors :-)

This new wildlife garden is at the entrance to RSPB Nature Reserve Vane Farm. It was an area previously behind a fence along the entrance path that visitors just walked by.

A fantastic job was done by a group of volunteers last year. The site was cleared, paths and a raised pond built with homes for wildlife added. Planting that has caught my eye has been a strip of young plants that will make a wonderful mixed hedgerow in a few years.

Regular visitors to my blog will know of my trips to SWT Reserve Loch of the Lowes over the last few years. You can see a compilation video here taken with my previous (non HD) camera. Perhaps it’s about time I produced a compilation video from RSPB Vane Farm as this is a Reserve I’d like to share more from in the future.

Back in May, I popped along to Vane Farm to discuss being a volunteer there. Within a few weeks I was helping out with an event! I’ve been meaning to blog on that for some time but time does just run away with us at this time of year doesn’t it? I’ll come back to it another time... it involved talking ;-)

Since then, I’ve been caught up with lots of other things that have prevented me from being back at Vane Farm. However, the plan is (when I get more organised with free time) I’m going to get involved with planting up this new wildlife garden and perhaps blogging about it on the Vane Farm Blog too! Its early days and I’ve more people to chat to yet ;-)

Sounds fun doesn’t it? Coming back to reality with a bump… as mentioned earlier there are dull but necessary jobs still to be sorted here. Weather permitting, 2 paving slabs await laying, a hedge weekend looms, our shed needs a little TLC to face winter and….

All that being said… we have to make the most of sunny days we get over the summer. We have always enjoyed our family time… lol… hence the long list!

Finally, hands up… two days after planting the newspaper parcels of young plants at Vane Farm’s new wildlife garden I returned to check on the new recruits… they were looking remarkably well. Yes, they were still recovering from their move but I am now quite positive that they will be okay.

Taking my watering cans on that trip to give the new recruits another good soak was a good idea. Yes, I know I said I'd leave them as an experiment. Good job I did give them a little extra help as we've had some warm spells since.

Oh yes... and I collected some fresh Red Campion seeds from my garden and scattered them in the area of the plants too. In addition I left Reserve staff two generous pkts of Red Campion seed to be used in other areas too.

It's great fun sharing seeds and supporting other gardens and organisations. Now... its time to get back working in my own garden again! Hope you've been enjoying yours. What's catching your eye at the moment?

This post was written by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch