Category Archives: alder garden

wildlife Wednesday ~ May

last month I posted about the hoodie crows in the spruce tree, well I think there is a sad ending, I think he has lost his lady love to another male, a few days after my last wildlife Wednesday post a third hoodie appeared on the scene, for several days there was a lot off activity, mainly 3 crows whizzing around the garden, in the air of course, then suddenly nothing, not a cour cour or any sight of the hoodies, gone,
one day when I was taking photos of the woodland edge, I looked up and was surprised to see the nest, no not for this year but last year, so I was right they had nested there last year, the nest has done well coming through winter storms,
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in my last post, my end of month view, I said I had cleared the wood off this pile,
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this is what I did with it, I had the idea last year and finally it is done, it is the end of a short border in the alder garden, the green slope is the wildflower slope, I have put little piles of branches and twigs around the garden but this is the first time I have made a larger pile that is part of a border,
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I have seen these caterpillars around the garden and finally got a photo, looking it up, it is the caterpillar of the Square-spot Rustic moth (Xestia xanthographa), it doesn’t hibernate in winter and is nocturnal eating grasses and other low growing vegetation, if the caterpillar link shows the whole page and not the photo of this caterpillar and you are interested please scroll down to ‘Noctuid caterpillars with fewer prolegs – Plusinae’ where you will find it,
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the darling starlings, I was sitting on my sofa, I can see the top of the olearia which birds often visit, when I saw this group of starlings look as if they were attacking the shrub, a closer look and they were trying to pull off the pliable soft twigs, (photos through window)
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success ………..
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Saturday a sparrow teased me, sitting on the wall, me with my camera in hand taking plant photos just a few yards/meters away, as I brought the camera up to take a photo it flew up to the windowsill then down into the garden out of sight, my fluke action shot,
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Saturday evening I was very surprised to see this redwing nestling in the privet hedge, I was also worried, it was not a sheltered spot, the wind comes around the house into the hedge here and strong winds and rain were forecast, I was also worried as this is so unusual, they usually go in flocks, had it been left behind when the others left for Iceland, I kept watch, then I saw another, I felt better that it had a friend, they hopped about a bit before finally settling, by morning they were gone, (photo through window)
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Monday I saw one redwing, across the other side of the garden sitting quiet at the bottom of the privet hedge, again I kept watch, it stayed for nearly 3 hours, moving only slightly then was gone, looking Redwings up they don’t all go to Iceland and the Scandinavian countries some breed in northern Scotland, so could there be a pair that have decided to stay here, I will now find myself looking out for them,

the weather as I mentioned in my previous post has been weird to say the least and not good for wildlife as well as plants and humans, on 2 of the better days I heard a bee, not seen any, no inhabitants in the bird boxes,
a big thanks to Tina for hosting this wonderful meme, please visit Tina’s blog to see more wildlife posts,

note: BBC radio 4 book of the week this week is The Running Hare by John Lewis-Stempel the author is a hill farmer and natural historian, he rented a field so he could grow wheat and wildflowers in the traditional manner, he observed the wildlife and plants for a year, I am finding it interesting and as this is a wildlife post I thought I would mention it and give a link in case anyone else is interested, click HERE to go through to the BBC page,

update: an update on my little accident, it is taking longer than I would have expected to heal, as winds gusting at 40mph were predicted for today and tomorrow I went to town yesterday, I wasn’t there long just under 2 hours but the walking about seems to have knocked the healing process back a bit, today is going to be spent restfully, thank you for all your kind words on my previous post, F x

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©Copyright 2016 Frances Caple. All rights reserved. Content created by Frances Caple for Island Threads.

GBBD ~ April is nearly daffodil

as this is my second year joining in bloom day, out of curiosity I took at last April’s post and booms were so much further along, which emphasizes the colder weather we have had this winter, at the rate the daffodils and narcissus are growing I think it will be another year with narcissi still blooming in June,
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the little bed by the side porch, the tall daffodil is one of the lost tête à tête, it is tall because it had dropped down in the soil when I was digging out the narrow border across the path where I have now planted a beech hedge, you can hardly see them but there are Scilla sibirica Siberian squill in bud, last year they were in bloom,
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a bit further along across the path to the wilderness, which is looking less wilderness like at last, Primula elatior subsp. pallasii is larger than the native oxlip and blooms earlier, the oxlips are not in bloom yet,
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and along the privet hedge the large clumps of daffodils are just starting to bloom, this is why I keep having unplanted bulbs at the end of the year, I have been digging up the clumps as they are grossly over crowed, if any one would like some sent in the summer in exchange for anything you may have extras of please say,
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back across the path to the middle bed, Muscari armeniacum with Euphorbia ‘Purpurea’ behind, I know these muscari are in a pot but there are some in this bed, just that these didn’t get planted, they will be when they have finished blooming,
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Primula vulgaris ‘Drumcliff’ I bought a plant last year and it bloomed very well, when it finished I dug it up and re-planted each rosette, 7, look how well they have bulked up again, I’m not going to divide these, I’m going to let them continue to expand, I am going to leave the four in the foreground where they are and move the three at the back along the border and re-plant as a group, they need something among them but I’ve not come across anything that sparks yet,
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Erica carnea ‘Golden starlet’ is still blooming and Erica erigena ‘Brightness’ is just starting to bloom, you can’t see it but Margaret Porter has a few blooms, Saxifraga ‘Golden falls’ is covered in buds, this little group is at the top end of the jungle garden, seen from the living room window, although I am showing for blooms in this post, however with the Juniperus x pfitzeriana ‘Carberry gold’ this is a lovely foliage area giving a lovely show 24/7 365(6) days a year, the gap in the middle front is where I removed a golden starlet and I’ve planted one of the seedling Carex frosted curls which I think will offer contrasting foliage,
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Erica x darleyensis ‘Margaret Porter’ in bloom, I bought 3 plugs autumn 2014 so this is her second year, I’m looking forward to when she gets larger and makes herself know,
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golden scarlet again, this erica has propagated well and it gives such a lovely light, bright green foliage all year the late winter flowers being a bonus, it has been flowering since February, last autumn I planted Chionodoxa forbesii in groups in the alder terrace bed, I’m very happy with how the alder bed has come on since I finally got it planted how I had intended,
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Primula denticulata is flowering in many parts of the garden,
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daffodil and narcissi, I didn’t plan to group them like this, it is the result of digging up clumps then panic planting in the autumn, originally I didn’t plant anything so close to the alders as I want to be able to weed under and do any pruning needed, then I realised in autumn/winter when I want to do the work the bulbs are tucked up under the ground, also a bonus is that in between these bulbs beautiful wild orchids come up and bloom in summer, I don’t know which native orchid they are,
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the double daffodils in the long alder garden border are just starting to open,
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this is the nice part of the alder garden, I wish I could get the rest of it done, I am very pleased with how it has developed and can see what can be achieved when the grass is gone,
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sometimes there is a plant stall in Stornoway in summer and last summer I bought this saxifraga, the seller didn’t have any more information, if anyone knows (thinks they know) the name please say, it, as you can see, is covered in buds,
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Euphorbia ‘Martinii’ is standing tall, I showed just one bloom last month as the frost had made it look like a weeping plant, 2 of the cuttings I took are flowering as well, it was a good purchase last year,
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Symphytum grandiflorum. Creeping comfrey has been flowering for some weeks, too cold for most pollinators though,
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I know they are not in bloom yet but there is a lot of promise in the wallflowers I bought last autumn,
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looking across the phormium bed to the daffodils on the slope down to the birches (not the one I am following), I had visions of this slope being covered in daffodils but, then what! so I have been thinking, wondering how to plant it, any ideas? with or without the daffs,
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the narcissi along the species rose border are just starting to open, last years April bloom day they were in full swing,
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there are some blooms over near the trees but I am not going there as I feel if I want birds to nest in the boxes I need to leave them alone,

thanks to Carol for hosting garden bloggers bloom day, please follow this link to Carols blog to see what is blooming around the world,

I’m glad I looked at my post for last April, it is interesting seeing the difference, I am going to do it each month now I am posting for the second year,

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©Copyright 2016 Frances Caple. All rights reserved. Content created by Frances Caple for Island Threads.

the other side

I have been trying to keep up with some of the areas of my garden that are ‘not too bad’ however, there are areas that have, so to speak ‘got away from me’ during the last 2 wet years, and I do mean years, spring, summer, autumn and winter were very wet! then last year as well as wet the summer was cold, only a few days did we have temperatures in double figures celsius, above 48 fahrenheit, due to the amount of rain encouraging weed and grass growth but discouraging my working in the garden, weeds and grass dominate whole areas of the garden,

the not being able to get out into the garden (without being drenched) and seeing the weeds and grass taking over, got me down, to the extent eventually that I started to think of moving, or even just locking the house up and taking myself some where warm and dry to live, to help me out of this low feeling, I decided to ignore the areas the weeds and grass ruled, it has not been easy but one way has been to concentrate my blog posts on what I can do and simply not talk about the overgrown areas, now is time to talk about them,

the fruit and berry garden being the worst, this is the new area (well it was 2 years ago), it was covered in polythene for 2 years, then I grew my potatoes here to dig it and clear the weeds, that was 2014, so last year I planned it for fruit, there is a lot of creeping buttercup here, I dug it over to clear it several times last year, still they came back, and then grass too, in the end I just couldn’t keep up,
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across the ditch to the main part of this garden and it looks like a wasteland, 2 years ago it was fine, that wet summer (2014) started the weed and grass take over,
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raspberry canes, there were no flowers and fruit last year, I think because of the cold,
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gooseberry, it was 2 years ago that they got the fungus, I had to cut 2 of them right down and dispose of the contaminated material in the hot recycle bin, late summer/autumn the decline started here, last spring I started to clear it and it was so bad that it seemed impossible, then it rained on me and I gave up, it was the day this happened that I became near to tears,
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wild rush, I dug wild rush out of this area when I created this garden and now due to all the horrid rain it’s back,
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this is water in the adjoining field that drains through my garden, the ditch garden, it is about 3 feet deep, it never made a pond like this until all the rain in the last few years, now it has even reached the top and came over the bank at times,
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the trees I planted 4 years ago are growing well which is something,
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this red grass like foliage, I think is cotton grass, now I would be quite happy to have cotton grass growing in the ditch side, each time I have dug some up and put where I’d like it, it disappears,
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the Alder garden, a small part of this area is alright, most of it like this, I had such hopes 2 years ago when I started making more vegbeds here,
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the tree edges, I’ve cleared about half,
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last year I put paper and a mulch down when the bluebells had receded, I only got half done, this shows the difference and how quickly the grass can take over,
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the tweenie, originally all the grass was dug out of here, it had been going beautifully, now look what 2 wet years can do,
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and I have not got last years growth cut down yet,
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the right is the tweenie, left the damp meadow, between a path lol, where the stones are and then it curves into the bottom right corner of the photo, I put concrete down here, I now know you need to dig down at least 12″, fill half with rubble and then top with 6″ of concrete finishing with a smooth cement skin so there are no little gaps something can grow in, who would have guessed in a wet climate concrete makes a fantastic seed bed,
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I wanted to finish with something a bit happier, I have managed to do some work in the damp meadow, however, there is a lot that needs digging out, all the brown heaps are common montbretia, and there is a huge area of a suckering spirea, the white one is a delight and keeps a good shape, the magenta one lulls you into a false sense of security thinking it too is well behaved for several years, then one year when your backs turned it explodes and tries to take over the garden,
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so there you have it, the other side,

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©Copyright 2016 Frances Caple. All rights reserved. Content created by Frances Caple for Island Threads.