Friday, 24 November 2017

Not Black, not Grey... it's Red Friday :-)

After the first ever Red squirrel garden visits spotted earlier last November, expecting them to return in 2017 was a very faint thought indeed. That really would be greedy to be so very privileged again… but one very alert and no nonsense one has!

For the past three, very different weather wise, lunchtimes I have been so very, very lucky to be at home, sipping homemade soup by my gardenwatch window to see a red squirrel feeding at our garden peanut feeder! What a delightful lunch companion it has been too :-)

NOV 22: Wednesday, a dark dreich day – the red squirrel brightened up.

NOV 23: Thursday, chilly with sunshine – the red squirrel is so comical to watch.

NOV 23: Thursday, the red squirrel stops feeding only very briefly to look around.
Little did it known that it had a queue of watchers, me, 2x magpies one on post very close by, Woodpigeons on fav garden perches plus other regular birds too.

NOV 24: Friday, heavy snow for a bit, how brilliant to get the chance to see and photograph this wonderful charismatic animal with snow – fantastic…

NOV 24: Friday, magpies didn’t come close to the red squirrel but smaller birds did.
Capture of today has to be the little wren standing its ground… just brilliant :-)

This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in November 2017.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Answer: The building of a wildlife pond

Question: What would you say blogging has inspired you to do in your garden that you didn’t expect? Please leave your answers in a comment :-)

It’s fair to say that garden blogging changes the way we look at our gardens. In our pursuit of supporting photos we discover small details often overlooked. We become inspired by further research, posts by other garden bloggers and drawn to aspects of gardening never remotely considered when we published that first blog post.

AUG 30: Common Darter resting on pondside bergenia leaves.

Happy 11th Birthday, shirls gardenwatch!!! I seriously never expected to be publishing this birthday post today. Wow… eleven years. Thanks to blogging with you I’ve turned my garden into a space that so much wildlife visits, that I never imagined, but at the same time I’ve kept my plant lover’s garden too. I found a fun creative outlet in taking photos, videos and writing in a variety of styles. I’ve ‘met’ some great people along the way too :-)

THANK-YOU to everyone who has continued to pop by during a more sparse year of blog posts and blog browsing. I have seriously appreciated seeing your comments come through. Our interactions with our gardens is one of the great aspects of garden blogging. You all continue to inspire me drawing me back to post when I can.

Wishing you all a great week ahead! Below are some links that might inspire you or someone you know to build a garden wildlife pond :-)

Creating Garden Ponds for Wildlife - Freshwater Habitats Trust
Pond construction and repair - The Royal Horticultural Society
Wildlife Pond Pack - The Wildlife Trusts

This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in November 2017.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Loving Autumn watching

Right now in this October 2017 Perthshire garden, bird species and numbers are increasing at the feeders almost daily. I'm on the lookout for Redpolls now. It's a great season to be gardenwatching! As a garden blogger there is much to chat about at this time of year. Red Admiral butterflies are still visiting, 4 counted the other day, but soon they will move on so each sighting is precious.

Yes, is the answer to the question: “Are hedgehogs still visiting the garden in mid-October?” should you be wondering. I can confirm that from a sighting last night via a new IR camera in the garden. It's been great fun to browse footage from a replacement, reasonably priced, trail camera bought especially to find this out. No current sightings in the hedgehog feeding station though.

Tonight, is the answer to the question: “When is BBC Autumnwatch 2017 on?" should you be wondering that. As always, I’m very much looking forward to it! I will keep this blog brief so you have more time to browse links to Autumn wildlife from around the UK. Check out BBC Autumnwatch on facebook , follow the latest wildlife happenings at BBC Autumnwatch Live and browse the chat and fantastic Autumn photo captures shared on the BBC Autumnwatch website.

Enjoy browsing these links above, they definitely inspire appreciation of our flora and fauna at this time of year. There’s the basic info about this year's Autumnwatch at the bottom of this post - times, presenters and location. For now, here are a few current Autumn captures from my little corner of the UK…

OCT 20: Red Admiral butterfly with other insects feeding on Acer leaves – aphids?

OCT 20: Red Admiral butterflies feeding on pergola roof ivy flowers – how many?

OCT 20: Blue tit rooster agitated just after 5:45pm by another trying to come in!

OCT 20: Blogger setting up trail camera at first day test position, colours ok
Could this be the year the red cotoneaster berries attract Waxwings?

OCT 20-22: IR night captures of a mouse, hedgehog, garden blogger and a cat!

Clicking on the last image above will enlarge it to see, from top left, the hedgehog feeding station entrance between the two plant pots and a mouse running away from it with food. Camera moved to another position later that night caught a hedgehog just after midnight! To encourage the hedgehog to forage a bit more in the direction of the covered feeding station, the next evening the blogger sprinkles a food trail but only a cat is seen walking over it at dusk.

Trail cameras are fun but not essential when it comes to watching wildlife in the garden - having house window views to the garden work just as well. I absolutely love my gardenwatch window and especially when I’ve time for breakfast bird counts from it. It’s a great way to start the day :-)

What Autumn wildlife are you enjoying watching from your house windows just now? What are the season’s highlights from your part of the world? We’d all love to hear about them. For those that would like to hear more about the 2017 Autumnwatch series here’s the info promised above…

"When is it on TV?
Autumnwatch starts at 8pm on Monday 23rd October. There will be four episodes, all on BBC Two.

Who are the presenters?
Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan and Martin Hughes-Games will be based at Sherborne, and will explore how our British wildlife is coping with the onset of autumn across the UK. Meanwhile Gillian Burke will be live from England's south coast, getting to know a unique family of foxes in intimate detail.

Where will the team be based?
Autumnwatch returns to its year-long home in the heart of the Cotswold countryside, at the National Trust’s Sherborne Park Estate. The Estate was chosen as ‘the Watches’ first ever year-round location for the fantastic variety of habitats and wildlife to be found there, and because the mix of woodland, farmland and parkland (and the species that live in it), is an microcosm of the kind of British countryside that is accessible to most people in the UK."
BBC Website: Everything you need to know about Autumnwatch 2017

Enjoy Autumn watching everyone :-)

This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in October 2017.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Aster 'Little Carlow'

This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in October 2017.
Photo captures taken October 13th, 2017.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Six on Saturday: New to me

As it does, late the other night, one twitter/blog link lead to another. The discovery of a new blogging meme caught my eye. Six topics/plants, supporting photo/photos with a caption/brief piece of descriptive text sounded a fresh idea for this garden blogger. Mmmm.. but as many readers here might guess that was maybe a bit optimistic for me ;-)

To find out more, should you fancy joining in today, or any future Saturday head over to today's post at The Propogator and take a look at the Six on Saturday – a participant guide. As you will read there, although the host blogger is running it as a current weekly meme, any Saturday contribution is welcome. Memes like this, where you leave a comment on the hosting blog's post for others to browse yours and you to view other participants, are a great way to discover new blogs. Happy browsing :-)

So, all current as per the brief, here are my quite different six...


This should be confession time given my last blog post stated that this gardener could walk away from a plant clearance sales table. I omitted to reveal that this selection stayed in my basket on the previous week's visit to this garden centre. I guess with the plants tucked almost out of sight I was able to forget my lapse. Truth be told, I didn't have the heart to leave Rozanne on her own and the sempervivums so desperately needed rescued.

Quite appropriately for this first contribution to a blog meme with blog titled The Propagator I have propagation in mind for the perennial geranium ‘Rozanne’ which will be a first. I have this plant in the garden already (having successfully moved it too) so I am optimistic.

The ‘worse-for-wear’ sempervivums are heading to the greenhouse for some division and a creative display there! The pretty cyclamen, well that’s a different story having bought them before deciding where they will go. Ooops, I’m still undecided!


This would be the question I asked on Twitter late last night. Thanks go to Vicky & Richard Fox at Plantagogo who sadly confirmed my suspicion of rust on heuchera 'Marmalade' above. After many, many years of growing heucheras in my garden borders, all my lighter coloured ones have various levels of rust. There are a lot too as I have divided and replanted as the years have gone by :-(

2017 hasn’t seen a dramatic change in weather conditions here, so I’m guessing the more dense planting in borders has not allowed enough air flow through (keeping the ground damp perhaps) and been at the root of the problem. So the plants will be pruned and moved and with this the new opportunity of finding more suitable ground cover plants for the affected areas. I’m ok with that part :-)


That would be the heather Calluna vulgaris 'Peter Sparkes' that was bought as a plant for wildlife. Attracting Bullfinches to his seeds after flowering, during winter months, was the plan after seeing a feature on BBC Autumnwatch with Martin Hughes-Games on a Scottish moorland (sorry, failed to find a link).

Although no heather feeding Bullfinches have been spotted yet, this gardener is happy that Peter has kept himself neat and well behaved in the border and his beautiful deep pink flowers are great to see from the gardenwatch window. If you plant it they will come and I've been patient for a few winters now :-)


That would be the Fuchsia 'Mrs W.P. Wood'. It should be said, that this gardener is no more a fushia fan than a heather fan but many plants do make their way to her garden for sentimental reasons and Mrs Wood ticks two boxes there.

For those that don’t know the habits of this gardener, she likes to move plants around. Mrs Wood appears to be a tad shy in her new pondside location, maybe when she gets to know her new neighbours she’ll come out of her shell.


That would be a break in transmittion in terms of evening gardenwatching sadly. Regular blog visitors will know that this garden has a basic IR camera inside a hedgehog feeding station. Many images have been shared over the years. We apologise for the break in autumn service.

Note to self and all other gardeners, perhaps pruning in the dark with long handled pruners on a rainy, windy night with a torch in the other hand isn’t such a good plan.

Long stems of ivy had made its way into the feeding station. The gardener should have dealt with it in daylight! This isn't an easy fix either, involving wire going through house walls, but hopefully the resident garden technician will be able to deal with the problem soon.


That would be at the front of the house, where hanging baskets were planted up with a bit of a wedding colour theme for the gardener's daughter’s late summer wedding. Hanging baskets were a new feature for 2017. As can be seen above, they are winding down now but a full container planting of the trailing Dichondra Silver Falls is absolutely on the cards for 2018 :-)

That would be my daughter's wedding dress and the day she picked it. A refreshment stop at a garden centre after, an impulse buy by the gardener to mark the special occasion and another plant not usually picked by the gardener makes its way in. Sited in a partially shaded garden, this compact (height 75cm) Hydrangea paniculata 'Magical Himalaya' should grow happy ever after :-)

That would in the sweet peas that were grown in the garden for decorating the gardener’s daughter’s wedding ceremony arch. The variety chosen was 'Albutt Blue' and it worked a treat. There were a few planted in containers that are past their best now, but these garden border grown ones above will hopefully set good enough seed to sow for flowers again next year.

Once again, not a plant this gardener usually grows but with their scent and other sentimental connections it was a very good choice indeed :-) It's good for the gardener to look further than the usual plant suspects, it's good for the blogger to look further than the usual blog memes too. This one has been fun, although it's grown a bit in length from the set brief suggestions and her initial plan. Ah well, it's good to try something new and to spread the links to other bloggers brave enough to host a blogging meme.

Happy Saturday everyone taking part with The Progatator today and Happy Garden Blogger's Bloom Day to all regular blog visitors joining Carol at May Dreams Gardens tomorrow too :-)

This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in October 2017.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Seasonal shifts, all in a day

Outside the window, bulrushes bob in the breeze. Light ripples trail over the surface of the water, left by the Mallards that have just taken flight. Autumn is definitely in the air and the empty patio chairs and tables on the decking support the current temperature drop.

Inside the Garden Centre café, warmer jackets decorate the backs of chairs. Scanning around the occupied tables, no scarves are to be seen but they won’t be far away in emerging from their summer storage.

Emerging, increasing in size on every visit, Christmas displays push forward the commercial seasonal shift. Plant sales benches are trying to promote as much colour as they can hold on to but at the same time selling off plants past their seasonal best on Clearance benches.

Spring bulbs in wooden crates push forward thoughts for 2018 and the pending 2017 bulb planting period before the frosts come. Now this year, the gardener must consider wisely any purchases and ensure bulbs don't get forgotten. So today, no bulbs were bought!

The Mallards drop back down to the pond, drawn in by a little boy and his Grandmother (a guess) throwing bread crusts into the water. A fleeting visit by both and a familiar scene in many parks just now with the schools here on a holiday break.

Defrosted frozen peas and sweetcorn are much more nutritious for the ducks than bread. I might guess more fun for children to throw too. Perhaps television nature programmes, like Autumnwatch returning next week 23rd October 8pm BBC2, could promote this more.

Phone image, mallards early afternoon, 2:15pm.

Outdoors the sun is breaking through and filling the large conservatory with strong, bright light. Reflections from the white pages of my notebook cause my eyes to squint. It’s time to move anyway. The outdoor, plant clearance tables beckon…

The gardener is easily tempted. The wish to save a wilted, tired plant (or two or three…) is strong. The basket gets filled and carried around (Russian Sage ‘Little Spire’ x3). Record phone images of garden border at home are examined. The basket gets emptied again. Previous experience kicks in. Have a big enough garden border or container space in mind :-)

Indoors again and snow decorated branches of artificial Christmas trees are being pulled out by staff as they build another display. A brief thought goes to winter and snow! Back in the car park and it's back to Autumn 2017 as it is now with all the beauty of its many colours beginning in earnest as the leaves change and drop. The drive home gets more colourful by the day.

Back home, outside the window, Blackbirds run along the ground. Coal tits dart to the feeders as the light begins to go for the day. Many bird species have been returning to the garden feeders recently. Spotted have been: Dunnock, Robin, Wren, Goldcrest, Blackbird, Coal tit, Blue tit, Great tit, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Siskin, Greenfinch, Woodpigeon, Magpie, Jackdaw and a Sparrowhawk!

Outside this gardenwatch window there is a feast of colour from various acers, asters, astrantias, sedums, berries and the last of the white/lilac sweet pea flowers. Plus there are all the many foliage greens and mossy rocks around the small pond where a wood mouse is caching sunflower hearts. Red Admirals complete the garden list for now still visiting aster, verbena bonariensis and the ivy flowers high above the pergola.

Back in the kitchen, an evening meal is in need of my attention. This blog, written by hand in a garden centre café and then copied over to word on my PC will hopefully find its way to my actual blog later tonight. Yay, it has!

Great also to an easy to miss seasonal sight (no photo) from today as I headed to the kitchen. A small ‘v’ formation of swans flew over the house and garden. I suspect they were heading back to their evening roost – a fantastic sight to catch the eye through a window. So fast they go too. I wonder how much longer they will stay in the area.

What seasonal shifts are you enjoying just now? Oh yes, and out of interest, have you ever fed defrosted frozen peas or sweetcorn to ducks? I must try it myself but do wonder if someone was feeding bread at the same time would they go for that instead. Enjoy your Autumn days :-)

Phone image, gardenwatch window view, evening outside lights on, 8:30pm.

This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in October 2017.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Mind the gap

This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in August 2017.

Monday, 31 July 2017

The theme of the last seven months

Clue 1: Keeping the garden free from weeds early in the season
to save time during the busiest month for 2017 – July.

Clue 2: Careful tending of multiple plants in a variety of pot sizes 
and styles so plants are in peak flower for the end of July.

Clue 4: Little spare time for gardenwatching or taking photographs.

Clue 3: Purple and Pinterest hours lost.

Clue 4: Ivory and the weather forecast

Clue 5: Love :-)

Can you guess what has been keeping me from blogging, taking images, recording sightings and visits? I’m guessing you might ;-)

Yes, we have been preparing for a very special occasion – a wedding, our eldest daughter’s. We haven’t quite come down to earth yet since Saturday, but despite the rain that hampered the outside wedding planned it was full of quite beautiful moments that we will all treasure forever.

However, I must give a nod to anyone considering low planting pots to line wedding ceremony aisles and outside paths in wedding venues like our lovely family castle home where peacocks were present. Be prepared to have them losing their flowers as the very curious peacocks are partial to eating them bare!

Hello again, my blogging friends and visitors :-) What has been keeping you busy this summer?

All images above were taken, as with my last wordless post, using my phone on a visit to St Andrews Botanical Gardens on April 13th 2017 for shirls gardenwatch in July 2017.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Kokedama

Kokedama with spider plant, St Andrews Botanical Gardens, April 13th 2017.
How to Make Kokedama

This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in April 2017.