Thursday, 8 September 2016

From lawn to wildlife garden

above is a picture of what my garden used to look like - a boring old lawn, concrete path that was breaking up, a conifer tree that was blocking light from the front window and behind it a concrete patio that, like the path, was crumbling. The picture was one of those ariel photo's that people try to sell at the door. As they had caught me cutting the grass I bought one. One day the lawnmower packed up and at the time this was a huge blessing.

I decided not to buy another mower, I was sick of grass cutting. Life's too short for grass cutting. The idea of a wildlife garden was born - the year was 2010.

First task was to get a skip delivered and dig up the path and patio followed by all the grass. A friend lent me an electric chainsaw and within seconds the conifer was history. With a blank canvass to work from I was stuck - what do I do next? How do I do it? How do I see the finished article? The saying "the plan is, there is no plan" sprang to mind

Bird feeders were put up and with it I joined the British Trust for Ornithology's "Garden Birdwatch" survey. For 12-18 months the garden lay bare gathering weeds - but the birds were being fed

the image above shows plenty of Starling feeding and the first two additions - a log pile and a geranium plant. The line of the old path can be seen on the right.

I was desperate to get it right first time, so, after taking 18 months deciding what to do and not really coming up with anything it was a first time trip to a local garden centre for inspiration. Here, lay a pile of random stepping stones, enough for my garden. The new path was about to arrive. Once the stones were laid the path was edged with willow that had been cut down and dumped from a nearby area.

The more I had read about wildlife gardening the more it was apparent I needed a pond. A pond was a must have. The sand and liner were purchased, the digging began and soon I had a lined hole in the ground. The pond surround was formed of stones that had been dug up whilst having the original clear out in 2010. It was filled with water, left for two weeks and then planting began. The old half circle concrete patio was still bare so half a dozen slate slabs were purchased, laid down and finished off with a stone bench with otters forming the legs.

So, with the seating sorted, the pond sorted, the path sorted it was time to start looking at pollinating plants. A variety were bought and continue to be bought including buddleia, sedum's, early flowering bulbs (over 1000) over the course of the next 4 yrs. A sort out in the garage one day saw me drag out all the spare pond liner I had left over, it had been sitting in the garage for 12 months. What do you do with that? I asked myself. Only two answers - give it away or build another pond. A second pond was dug!.

the image below show the garden approx. 18 months ago -

The area in the top left near the missing gate is left clean for a "sparrows dust bath" whilst the first section on the left is a herb garden for culinary reasons. The gate is left "missing" for nocturnal animals to visit.

An addition 12 months ago was a peace and tranquillity area next to the ponds that sees Buddha surrounded by grasses and prayer flags. More flags need to be added.

Gardens are not built overnight, they take time to develop and mine is still being built. It has however in it's current state attracted 72 species that are eligible for BTO's Garden Birdwatch survey and a whole host of other species that are not.

Below is the current scene taken last week -

And here are some of the images of records the garden has produced, something not possible when it was all lawn and concrete

 Elephant Hawkmoth

Newts which found their way to the pond naturally

House Sparrow

Early Bumblebee

The Berberris fruits are loved by Blackbirds

freshly emerged dragonfly

unidentified damselfly with another on the right (wing only showing)

Hummingbird Hawkmoth


Ruddy Darter


 Beautiful Demoiselle

 Clouded Yellow


 Grey Wagtail

Collared Dove

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