August in the yard

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This post is really an excuse to put some new pictures of my yard up. I’m rather proud of it after all!

It’s been summer and stuff has grown happily. I have been enjoying eating yellow cherry toms, smelling sweet peas and watching bees enjoy the various plants I have provided for them.  It seems gardening has much to teach me, a 21st century woman hooked on my mobile, Neflix and instant gratification. Gardening takes time and there are no instant results – it’s a bit like saving money up, basically doing something today for tomorrow (or next Spring). This quote from the beautiful Audrey Hepburn kind of says it all.

Audrey Hepburn Quote | best stuff. VargaStore.com loves Audrey!!!! <3 She inspires us when designing our women's fashion.

 

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One of my favourites – sweet peas.

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Cotoneaster is a bee favourite – my lovely auntie sent this one to start me off.

IMG_7035My crazy Mint plant has flowered – I believe bees enjoy it but I’ve not seen one on it yet!

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The honeysuckle has grown to the top of the trellis already! It must be happy there!

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Yummy sweet cherry tomatoes!

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This gorgeous rose is my favourite, I love it’s bright red colour.

My husband had bought me it as one of those single red roses they try and sell you in restaurants (this one was from Valentine’s Day last year).  I’m a bit of a soppy soul to be honest (Shhh…) and thought I’d try and plant the stem and see what happened. Over time it began sprouting leaves, and then from June this year grew vigorously then produced this gorgeous flower. I’m not a great gardener, but I must have done something right with this one!

How’s your summer going? Has your garden yielded any surprises for you?

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Sensory garden at Leighton Moss

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We decided to take a lovely bank holiday trip to one of my favourite places today? I’ve loved Leighton Moss since I was little so I always enjoy a visit, and I’d urge you all to visit it as soon as possible! Tempt unwilling friends and family with the promise of amazing tiffin – the cafe does delicious food.

The reserve is large with a number of hides and is home to some charismatic species, including the bittern, bearded tit and even otter. We really enjoyed walking around the sensory garden today and I noticed a few things to incorporate in my own backyard, so I thought I’d document them here. Having a sensory garden is something I’m aiming for, particularly as I’m planning to sit outside a lot this summer (if possible!) and want to enjoy my space as much as possible.

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The Five Senses…

Sight – The sensory garden had lots to see, and in one way that’s the easiest sense to cater to! Leighton Moss have done it right with a range of beautiful plants and herbs of various colours and form in bloom – including the gorgeous Perennial Cornflower pictured above and the pink rose below. Many of the herbs were flowering too, especially the mint which was full of purple pink flowers which bees were going mad for. Of course because of the flowers there were lots of insects to look at too; there were a number of damselflies gracefully alighting on leaves, hoverflies and plenty of busy bees collecting pollen. There were some plants yet to flower so I expect that the sensory garden has been set up so it is in flower for most of the year, which is something to aim for – particularly as you are helping bees by providing food sources all year around. There was also a massive bug hotel delightfully called Bugingham Palace! Here’s a damselfly on a furry sage leaf.

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Taste – Taste was well catered for too, as lots of the flowers were herbs, which can be used raw or cooked. It’s my plan to create a vertical herb garden using a trellis made from wood my dad has salvaged. Plus the advantage of herbs is that bees love ’em!

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Hear – At Leighton Moss you can hear a lot more sounds than in the average garden, specifically ducks quacking and the slightly obnoxious calls of black-headed gulls. However, we can replicate the buzz of bees and tweetings of garden birds of course! Another way to add sounds to your garden is to plant noisy plants e.g. bamboo, which makes a relaxing swooshing noise in the wind, or install a pond with a trickling fountain! Ponds are brilliant for wildlife too, perhaps I will post about that one time as I aim to create a very, very small pond in my very small back yard!

Feel – This might sound tenuous but the plants were all different textures, which you can stop and appreciate. One herb that adds a lovely texture to touch is sage with its furry, rabbit-ear-like leaves! There’s silky rose petals, furry bees (although I didn’t touch them!) but just make sure not to touch nettles!

Smell – At Leighton Moss the sensory garden smelt amazing! As well as rubbing the variety of herbs between your fingers, scent also came from the flowering plants, in particular these roses which had an intoxicating smell, which always reminds me of Turkish Delight.

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Have you any ideas of how to create a sensory garden that I haven’t mentioned? I’m looking for more ideas for my yard, so please comment below if you do!

Ness Gardens

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Had a lovely treat yesterday – husbandy and I visited lovely Ness Gardens. It on the Wirral Penninsula which seemed like a little slice of heaven from what we saw! Visit Ness’ website to find out more. Admission is pretty pricey if I’m honest (£6.50 each) but it is a large garden and extremely well looked with a lovely variety of plants and wildlife so you kind of forget the initial sting! They have a nice cafe too – I recommend the lemon drizzle!

I’m not the best walker so we focussed on one side of the garden with plans already made to come again and look at the other side. We started off in the heather garden which the bees seemed to enjoy as much as we did!

A honeybee (I think...) enjoying the yummy heather

A honeybee (I think…) enjoying the yummy heather

The variety of Heather species were interspersed with other little plants including this lovely (I can only remember that it’s name is Heavenly Blue), little succulents and a cute daisy.

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Heavenly Blue

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Then we came across a huge patch of Borage (again, I think, please correct me if I’m wrong – I like to learn) and the bees were loving that even more than the Heather! Here’s a couple of photos for you (can you tell I got a fancy camera for my birthday?)

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A bonus ladybird I didn't notice until I uploaded!

A bonus ladybird I didn’t notice until I uploaded!

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After this we looked at the Potager section, but it needs a month or so yet nothing much on display. There’s a cute white greenhouse there with a rockery and little succulents and alpine plants. Some more photos for your viewing pleasure.

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A beautiful pinky red Helleborine…

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On the way to the garden centre we saw this little beauty and that’s where I’ll leave you! Go to Ness – if you’re into plants you’ll like it and even if you’re not particularly it’s a nice walk and place to visit.

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The colours of a spring garden

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As I’ve said before, we are the proud owners of a rather small backyard that’s unremarkable in many ways. It can’t be much more than a few metres squared, it’s paved and has no lawn, pond or wildflower meadow (all things I wouldn’t mind of course!). It is mine though and I’ve decided to make the most of it. One of my aims with this blog is to learn more about improving the wildlife value of a small suburban place and hopefully to share that with other people who might have a similar, small and seemingly sterile outside area.

There’s a few things I love about my yard, and I’m adding more and more things for me to love as I go along. I mostly prefer the wilder elements – I love the way the ivy drapes itself over one of the walls and the fact that purple Bellflowers sprout amongst it during the summer feeding a range of buzzing bees . We’ve not got a lot of money for garden-stuff so we’ve tried to make the best of what we’ve got. We took an old granite surface from the kitchen before we renovated and put it on piles of bricks to create a bench. We’ve put loads of pots on top, it makes a bit of a focal feature if I do say so myself!

Spring has sprung to use a rather overdone phrase.

The colours and textures are beautiful and fresh. Here’s some pictures, as much as a record for me than anything else.

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My husband planted this nice pot up (with my help of course), which is yellow and pink lupins we bought as seedlings from Bolton Market surrounded by pansies we salvaged.I love lupins, you can see them on railway verges during the Summer – makes it worth putting up with the commuting hell!

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Our house opens straight on to the street but that doesn’t mean you can’t add a bit of colour for passers by to enjoy! Here’s some little pots my lovely mother in law made for us. It’s pansies, mini dafs and irises or irii – I’m not sure what the plural might be – do you know?

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I love Cowslips they’re one of my favourites.

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Another beautiful iris.

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One of my snowdrops – I planted last year.

I need your help, loyal botanically minded readers…

Firstly…

On Valentine’s I got this rose from my beloved and now it’s sprouting little shoots, does anyone know if there’s any way to plant this? It could be a physical representation of our ever growing love – mwahahaha! Please let me know in the comments if you do, I’ve never taken a cutting or anything before.

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Secondly… I took this picture in my dad’s garden, any ideas what this is? My best guess is Common Spotted Orchid but it has a few more leaves than I would have expected.

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A spot of gardening

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Yes, it was definitely time for some gardening today…

My mother in law gave me these (once) beautiful begonias. They did really well and were very pretty all summer. It was really quite nice looking out of my lounge window into a begonia jungle, but I think they’ve finally had it. They are pretty plants but apparently they’re a poor nectar source for bees.

So I’ve decided to replace them with something a bit more bee-friendly.

Snowdrop, Fritillary and Daffodil bulbs (c) Lucy Hesford

Today, then, I’ve planted some species of bulbs I’ve read can provide vital early nectar sources for bees. I don’t have oodles of cash so I only bought two lots this time. I chose Snakes Head Fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris), which are my childhood favourite, Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) and some Daffodils (Narcissus sp.) that my mother in law donated (she’s pretty generous as you can tell!). I’m not sure if Daffodils are all that good for bees but they need using up and they’re undoubtedly pretty :o)

Me being me, I rushed head long into buying the bulbs and also had to get some potting compost. I staggered across the garden centre with a massive bag of compost which seemed to weigh about six stone, wrestled it into the boot of my car, out again, and through my house and to our backyard only to find it has blue slug pellets in it. Boo! This hardly goes along with my natural / organic principals, grrrrrrr! I can’t bear to waste it all though so I’ll just use it up in my own yard and avoid taking it anywhere else – lesson learnt!

Here’s hoping my bulbs end up looking  like these, but with more bees!

 

Snakes Head Fritillary (BBC’s image), Snowdrop (Scenic Reflections) and Daffodil (c) Lucy Hesford