July Seminar - Gardening for Wildlife

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Ade Sundog
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July Seminar - Gardening for Wildlife

Postby Ade Sundog » 01 Jul 2009, 12:20

Hello everyone.

Here is my seminar , i hope that is of help and/or inspiration , i suspect that the people who visit the DHP already do most or all or more than what is suggested here , if yes then brilliant , if not, well there may be one or two ideas here for you . I haven't made great lists of plants because what grows here may not grow where you live and visaversa , but i suppose the general idea is the same . Anyway , i hope it is of interest.

Getting down
I used to get really frustrated about the abuse of the Earth and the fact that there didn't seem much that i could do about it I got down and very nearly out .This feeling of helplessness . I could donate to charities and causes , and this was/is a really good thing , but at the same time a bit of a cop-out , because i wasn't doing anything but sit on my arse and feel down . I read about disappearing habitats , ancient woods being felled , species becoming extinct you all know what i mean . What could I do? What to do........?

Getting up
Well i didn't have a moment of blinding inspiration , more a slow realisation , if not an answer , then at least a bit of a fight back , a dream - why not grow things myself? turn the garden into a refuge , a haven , a sanctuary for insects , bees , birds and small animals? I know i'm not going to get Ospreys or Otters , but even a little must go a long way. So i did some research , and got going.

Part of the jigsaw
Your garden can be important place for wildlife in your local area , a vital piece in a jigsaw of seemingly unconnected places that wildlife depends on .Gardens, along with roadside verges , canal towpaths , playing field edges , hedgerows , railway lines , churchyards , abandonded industrial sites , traffic islands and the like , all have the potential to provide a rich habitat for many different species , and do .

In your area
Try to create a habitat . First have a look what is in your area - I couldn't re-create a peat moor or a seashore- but i could have a woodland glade , a woodland edge , a hedgerow , a wildflower meadow , or a pond . With more space the more is possible,natch .But even if you only have a patio or a yard or a window sill , beneficial plants can still be grown. So have a walk , or cycle :) , make a few notes , try to find out which are native plants .

"A wildlife garden is more than just a corner of a garden left to go wild. Whether you are creating a new wildlife garden, or have an established one, think of it as a nature reserve .Soil type, drainage and climatic conditions play a big part in what can grow in your garden. The way it has been managed in the past also influences what lives there. If it has been intensively managed, or has less green space and more concrete, it is likely to support less wildlife."
(But a concrete area covered in pots and planters will help.)
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wildflowers in a pot
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Wildflowers growing in a planter
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Last edited by Ade Sundog on 01 Jul 2009, 12:46, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: ade - i'm just doing this now so please don't post yet ta

Postby Ade Sundog » 01 Jul 2009, 12:26

Nectar ,seeds and tidying up
Many native wildflowers can be grown as perennial or annual hebaceous border plants , along with the old cottage garden favourites , and these will all attract insects and bees , again if there is no room , grow things in pots - you can grow almost anything in a pot! Flowers provide pollen and nectar for bees, butterflies and other insects all year round. Many garden plants are as good for wildlife as wild flowers are. Plant perennials with broad flower-heads to encourage bees into your garden in summer.Early and late flowering plants provide nectar for insects at critical times - just after emergence or prior to hibernation.Tidy borders and cut shrubs in late winter and early spring to help retain seeds and fruit for birds and small mammals throughout winter.Annual plants that produce many seeds in late summer are a good source of seed for birds through autumn into winter.Many fledglings need insects - a source of protein - if they are to grow strong and healthy and survive the winter. A variety of garden plants encourages these insects . Leave tidying of borders and shrubs until late winter or early spring to provide shelter for insects through winter.Try creating a range of habitat niches to provide opportunities for wildlife to feed at different times of year.

Ramble on
Let your garden ramble , who needs geometric boredom? Grow climbers over fences and up washing line posts , over shed roofs ,climbing plants will provide places for birds to hide and feed -
night-scented climbers like honeysuckle will attract moths , which in turn attract bats (hopefully) .Find interesting stones and wood and make those all important micro -habitats .You may well find that things visit you, or ‘weeds’ arrive, remember that spiders attract wrens, and dandelions provide seeds for goldfinches and greenfinches. Welcome all native wildlife into the garden, and a balance is achieved, you will find that you are just as fascinated by insects as birds and butterflies. and they are all of equal importance in your garden habitat.Gravel and lawns are voids, avoid voids , soften the edges of gravelled places with catmint , lavendar or thrift - all good bee plants . Leave a few feet of the lawn unmown , you'll be suprised what appears.Balance maintainence with neglect ,don't be too tidy . Some fallen leaves can be collected up and bagged and left to rot in bags as they make fantastic compost or mulch but leave some areas undisturbed, especially between in Autumn and Spring , piles of leaves and debris in a hedge bottom, or out-of-the-way corner, will shelter small animals, seeds in dead flower heads can be valuable food.Allow some of your plants to go to seed to provide winter food for seed-eating birds - seed-heads also have an aesthetic bonus, as they provide winter interest too . Let a patch of grass grow longer, as this encourages wild flowers, provides shelter for small mammals and food for some butterfly caterpillars.A bundle of hollow stems in quiet spot that catches the morning sun can be a home for solitary bees.Short lengths of hollow canes or plant stems, tied in bundles are excellent nesting sites for beneficial lacewings and ladybirds.Dead wood left in contact with the earth in a shady spot is good for beetles and other insects, fungi and mosses ,a pile of logs in an undisturbed corner of the garden provides shelter for insects and mammals - a hedgehog or toad may find a home there .

Trees and hedges
If possible plant a native tree if you have room such as a silver birch or rowan . Both support a wide range of life . Most broad-leaved trees are too big for the average garden , so unless you have a big garden , stick to something smaller . Birds will come to the garden if there is a tree to provide them with perching and roosting places, shelter, and food in the form of seeds and fruit.
Try to have a variety of trees, shrubs and climbers or a mixed native hedge as it will provide food and shelter to wildlife. Ivy provides shelter for nesting birds, plus autumn flowers for nectar, and winter berries for birds and small mammals. A native hedge in the garden, composed of berry bearing, spiky shrubs such as hawthorn , blackthorn, and hazel, with wild roses and honeysuckle recreates a country hedge. Birds are attracted to an area like this and small mammals will find shelter and food too .Fruiting bushes are a good source of food for birds and mammals during the autumn and some of the winter.A thick, well-developed, thorny shrub bed or hedge provides nest sites and shelter for wildlife.
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Dog roses on fence
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Last edited by Ade Sundog on 01 Jul 2009, 12:36, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: ade - i'm just doing this now so please don't post yet ta

Postby Ade Sundog » 01 Jul 2009, 12:35

Some watery thoughts
Installing a water butt is really easy , all you need is spout and a piece of guttering and something to catch the water in . Then when there is a dry spell (when there is a dry spell hahaha) theres no need to use a hose pipe. If you have nowhere to attatch a spout , then leaving buckets and bowls out to collect rain , but they may take a while to fill. Building a pond would require and article on it's own and it is something i'm planning , so i have not included ponds here .

Birds
Install a bird bath , a good place to watch birds , and an important place for them to bathe and drink , but change the water regularly .
Bird feeders and tables should be placed in the open yet near cover so the birds feel safe from ambush . They should be cleaned at times with a mild detergent to prevent salmonella . Provide food and water for birds all year round , as they will get used to the food being there.Providing a mix of food such as seeds, kitchen scraps and fat balls, plus natural food such as berries and seed-heads, will attract a wide range of birds - hopefully. A nesting box could be installed , but remember different birds have differnt requirements , the size of the opening for example , and where it should be sited.

Mission : possible - recycling swag in the garden and where you could get it
I didn't want too pay too much for anything , so i went on a scrounging mission for a couple of years - keeping my eyes open and my ear to the ground (hahaha) i begged,indefinately loaned , liberated , or swapped whatever i could. I got items from skips , the backs of factories , the tip , i got some huge plant pots from the police who'd been on a drugs bust, i got railway sleepers , pots , seed trays , water butts , stones, bricks, wood, i made a fence from old pallets , a cold frame from some decking, Ash and Hazel poles from a tree surgeon, trellis , three fantastic stone sinks and my crowning 'bag' a hazel chair that had been pulled out of a pond. I did however buy a greenhouse , and a Chimnea .Try to garden in a sustainable way , using no chemicals or peat . Get a compost heap going , i have two compost heaps - one bought , one not , natch , and they are a great help. Composting will save you money as well as helping garden plants and wildlife. Compost makes for healthy soil, which is good for everything living in it and growing on it.Avoid using herbicides by hand weeding, applying mulch, and planting good ground cover.Many of our actions have an impact on wildlife beyond our gardens. Please consider this when choosing materials when creating your garden.

Your garden is a Sacred Place
As well as being of incredible benefit to the local eco-system the garden is incredible importance to yourself . A place to sit and be still , to watch the creatures in it , to ponder the skies , to meditate ,experience the weather and the circle of seasons . The deep cold of winter the mad burst of early spring , the madder burst of late spring , sad and hopeful autumn, and the glory of high summer . See swifts and house martins , greenfinches, goldfinches , the scent of honeysuckle in the evening , dancing bees , a bold fox in winter, snuffling hedgehogs , butterflies , a wary jackdaw , circling buzzards , sunbathing spiders , hoverflies on the california poppies, and the glimpse of a mouse , as well as the familiar visitors , blackbirds , wrens , robin , sparrows , blue tits , thrushes and the dunnock . Your garden is a sacred place , let it grow .

Thanx for reading.
Make tea not war .
Ade
Summer Solstice 2009

Books:
Collins Book of British Wildlife
The Wildflower Key - Francis Rose and Claire O'reilly
New Book Of Herbs - Jekka Mcvicar
How to make a Wildlife Garden - Chris Bains
The World is in My Garden - Chris and Zane Maser
The Flower Expert - Dr. D.J.Hessayon
The Encyclopedia Of Garden Flowers
Wildlife On Your Doorstep
Reduce reuse recycle - Nicky Scott
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Happiness is pot shaped
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Herbs and daisies in a sink
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Dusky Cranesbill and chives going to seed
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Re: July Seminar - Gardening for Wildlife

Postby Dathi » 01 Jul 2009, 13:47

Thanks for this WSD, v interesting and there is plenty here to think about, absorb, and experiment with.

CFN,

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Re: July Seminar - Gardening for Wildlife

Postby Donata » 01 Jul 2009, 14:30

Thank you for so many wonderful ideas! great seminar!

BB
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Re: July Seminar - Gardening for Wildlife

Postby Bracken » 01 Jul 2009, 21:38

WSD, thank you from the bottom of my heart for such an inspirational seminar. From talks with you, my back yard rubbish tip is now almost pretty, and definitely producing things for me to eat and drink every day. This is having a massive effect on my relationship with the world outside my door. I love you for helping me with useable information rather than a technical turn-off.

This seminar has given me such confidence to learn more by letting it happen, instead of trying to make it so. You have such a natural flair for relaxation :grin: and it really rubs off on me. This afternoon, me and my mum went to blag some big, broken plantpots from the garden centre to encourage habitats for the frogs living in her pond. A well chilled day.

Two questions please:
  • 1. Why has my cat, Mona demolished my yarrow?
    2. Have you ever smelled pineapple sage? It smells just like a pineapple. :idea: Where is it from? What can I do with it, apart from smelling it?
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Re: July Seminar - Gardening for Wildlife

Postby Jingle » 01 Jul 2009, 23:32

Very nice WSD... Doing the same over here for the last 2 years. It's amazing what critters have found us in our small urban neighborhood.

I really like your ideas about collecting the spout water. I've been wanting to do something like that when I put in the pond, but I just don't seem to have enough time to dig the pond, so this will work meanwhile!
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Re: July Seminar - Gardening for Wildlife

Postby Ade Sundog » 02 Jul 2009, 13:54

Everyone - thank you! :D wow i'm glad you found it interesting .

MamaB Said :
1. Why has my cat, Mona demolished my yarrow?
2. Have you ever smelled pineapple sage? It smells just like a pineapple. Where is it from? What can I do with it, apart from smelling it?
1. Has Mona eaten it , peed on it , or lay on it ? :thinking:
2. Pineapple sage can be used as a flavouring , as to where it comes from i do not know - somewhere hot?
congtrats on bagging some buckshee pots!!!

Jingle - i know what you mean , i've been meaning to put a pond in now for ages , it's just finding somewhere to put one , at the moment i have a half barrel that my sister gave me , with a liner stapled inside , i've put a couple pots in with plants that like having thier toes wet - Flag Iris , Purple Loosestrife , and Marsh Marigolds and thats about it .
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Re: July Seminar - Gardening for Wildlife

Postby Bracken » 02 Jul 2009, 14:27


1. Has Mona eaten it , peed on it , or lay on it ? :thinking:
It looks to me like she's rolled around on it and dug it up a bit, Percy. What I want to know is why? Do cats have something against yarrow?
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Re: July Seminar - Gardening for Wildlife

Postby Aylyn » 02 Jul 2009, 15:08

She might have liked the smell, it is the usual reason why cats roll around in a plant. My catmint has been reduced to nothing by cats rolling around in it :-( So much for "plant a catmint on the hedges".

Thanks WSD - that was a great seminar. In general, the best advice for the natural gardener would be: Be lazy :-) Reduce the amount of work and enjoy the garden more, and the rest will sort itself out...

I am always surprised when people tell me they do not like to have a garden because it is too much work. It was hard work getting the lawn out of my backyard, but ever since, I have less of a job with the vegetable and flower garden than I would have mowing the lawn every other week. In addition, I have food to eat and something nice to look at. It very often is a question of perception....

Just one advice I would not agree with: While I would love to have a pond in the garden, I find that having pots with water is a pain in the neck. The main thing that breeds in there is midges, and they are too small to sustain the sort of wildlife that would keep the midges down. In a pond, there will be dragonfly larvae eventually, which feed on midge larvae, and that makes it tolerable. Otherwise, especially in an area as prone to midges as Scotland, having a bucket in the backyard makes life hell...
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Re: July Seminar - Gardening for Wildlife

Postby Dryadia2 » 03 Jul 2009, 02:33

Wonderful seminar, Ade!
Very inspiring, with great ideas! :clap:

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Re: July Seminar - Gardening for Wildlife

Postby Ade Sundog » 03 Jul 2009, 20:21

Thanx Aylyn and Dryadia! Nice One . :)

Aylyn , a lot of work does in fact go into it :whistle: , honest :grin: , there's trying in , hoeing , watering , pruning , turning the compost etc , and in the late winter and spring there's seeds to plant , pot on , prick out , etc etc , it is around this time of the year , when most things have reached thier fullness that you can put your feet up , and enjoy the fruits of your labours .






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Re: July Seminar - Gardening for Wildlife

Postby Aylyn » 06 Jul 2009, 14:49

What is "trying in"?

As far as watering is concerned: I live in Scotland, so watering is basically guaranteed, and I have learned a lot on how to save water from my Turkish neighbours in Frankfurt. Many of them came from the mediterranean, where the summers are much hotter and drier than here. They still garden, but are very cautious with the water. And since I had to pay for every drop in Frankfurt, I took a few hints. Maybe it would be worth it in England, too, you have been spoiled where water is concerned, and now are paying the price.

Pruning: Yes and no. I usually rake out a few branches in winter, but in general I leave the hedges as are - the birds need thick hedges so that cats cannot get in. And yes, turning the compost can be a pain, but that is not so often, and I have also started to use half-rotten compost, and larger parts, straght on the beds. Saves water, too, since the ground is always covered, feeds the earthworms and saves me the hassle :grin: . The only drawback is that the snails like it, too....

And seeds - is that not what gardening is about??? It is a joy, not work :yay:
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Re: July Seminar - Gardening for Wildlife

Postby Jingle » 06 Jul 2009, 23:31

One of the nice things about planting natives is that 1) the local wildlife prefer native plants and 2) they are typically able to live on the amount of water provided from the sky.

That being said, the work I enjoy most is sitting at the window watching the birds :grin:

We do have to clear the labyrinth so that we can use it for our meditation/celebration space and we also have to keep the blackberry bush away from the gate to the wood pile. As for planting seeds, I like perennials and self-seeding wildflowers.

The only thing we're having issues with this year are the sunflowers. Mr. Groundhog came by and ate all the leaves off them, leaving only the buds and stems. We'll see if they blossom into something the finches will eat. The thistles are lovely this time of year, though - and it was fun watching the chubby groundhog in the garden.
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Re: July Seminar - Gardening for Wildlife

Postby butterfly watcher » 07 Jul 2009, 10:04

Great seminar Winersun, reminds me to get that pond dug out. :D
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Re: July Seminar - Gardening for Wildlife

Postby Ade Sundog » 07 Jul 2009, 20:40

Thanx BW! :D :hiya:

Jingle said :
and it was fun watching the chubby groundhog in the garden
|-)


Hello Aylyn , trying in is just that , tying in things that have gone floppy (a piece of string and a cane) . Pruning is the three D's , dead diseased and damaged . Clipping or pruning a hedge will make it grow thicker , and prevents some shrubs getting leggy . Some plants only flower on the new growth so if you want flowers they need pruning . The more a compost heap is turned , the faster it works , i do mine every couple of weeks and it doesn't take long to compost , remember it should come out like soil , and nothing like it went in. Having a leak in it also speeds up the process btw , ahem , moving swiftly on .

Aylyn said
And seeds - is that not what gardening is about??? It is a joy, not work
well yes of course , but it probably depends on how many seeds are being planted , and how you go about the process . I always wash my pots/trays/modules , leave them to dry , then sieve all the compost into a big bucket , i then fill up what ever i'm planting the seeds in with the compost , give it a knock and gently firm , water , add the seeds , sieve some more compost lightly over the top , then water lightly again , then label , then lose the label , and forget what i'd just planted . This year i have planted 70+ different varieties of plants , about half of them have been successional plantings , 2 or 3 times . I started in late January , and finished about the end of May . Then they all were pricked out and potted up , then either planted into the ground or put in bigger pots/tubs etc. So it is hard work .

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Re: July Seminar - Gardening for Wildlife

Postby Magrathea » 08 Jul 2009, 21:58

Great work WSD.
Romelia and I have recently moved from a house with a concrete back yard, which we had numerous potted plants in, to a house with a beautiful garden. The blackbirds and sparrows just sit and watch us watching them. Can't get moved for bees :yay:

BUT

we are going to keep the garden tidy :-(

However, Hazel Grove is utter chaos :hug: who knows what's living in there.


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Re: July Seminar - Gardening for Wildlife

Postby Aylyn » 09 Jul 2009, 14:28

So it is hard work .
Well, what shall I say, I could probably write a book called "The lazy gardener"... :grin: What I find nowadays is that folks put too much effort into their gardens, either in keeping them "orderly" (which means all lawns nicely trimmed, not a weed in sight, and plants all looking ready for the showground), or in the way you do it. Yes, it sounds like hard work, and I would not like to do it.

What I always find interesting is: Nature has no compost heaps, what dies falls to the ground and breaks down right there - why can it not do the same in my garden? My grandmother, as a small farmer's wife, had 5 children to look after, plus the housework and working in the fields - she would not have had all the time to spend on the garden, and yet it had to deliver fruit and veggies for the family table. If my ancestors could have a veggie garden without putting in so much work, what is it we have forgotten, why can't we do it?

I am trying to get a similar attitude like my grandmother's: Select plants that do well, put them in where they are supposed to grow, keeps potting to a minimum. Don't mind so much about the weeds - I only weed when they plants are large, makes it a lot easier and faster, Veggies have to take their chances in the meantime. In addition, I have also made good experiences with ground covers like horse manure, lawn clippings and old leaves straight on the beds: They keep the weeds down and fertilize the ground, and if I leave open only the area where I have seeded, the veggies do much better. Only problem are the snails.... And with the plant debris already on the ground, there is no need to sort out the compost - it will all vanish within a year or two, and in the meantime I put additional stuff on to keep the cover. Granted, my neighbours are not overly happy with the looks of my garden (too chaotic), but who cares? :grin:
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Re: July Seminar - Gardening for Wildlife

Postby Ade Sundog » 09 Jul 2009, 19:57

Fair enough Aylyn , dug ! (no pun) :) . I am no vegetable gardener ! Can't even grow a radish :-) :where:

Thanx Magrathea .Hazel Grove is a place of inspiration :peace: . I used to live in a road called Hazel Grove btw - it was not a place of inspiration .
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Re: July Seminar - Gardening for Wildlife

Postby Aylyn » 10 Jul 2009, 11:08

I am no vegetable gardener ! Can't even grow a radish
Hmmm - if you are not a veggie gardener, what do you plant and grow? :thinking:

UIs there anything in terms of seeds you like to share?
Image

Image Image Two things are in abundance in the universe: hydrogen and stupidity.

Please help my dragons grow: Image


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