Monday, 11 May 2015

Spring is sprung!

Well Spring is marching on and warmer weather appears at times to be on the way. 

In my last post I mentioned about plants that had been damaged by the winter and others that had seemed to survive.  I tidied the wildlife area and waited for things to develop.  So, here are a few things that are going well.

Flowering rosermary

The selection of herbs that always seem to be very popular with insects are doing very well.  This rosemary particularly looks and smells lovely.  Still no insects attracted to it, though.

I have continued the construction of a hardy and spikey area, firstly to stop people using our car park and wildlife area as a cut through (treading on all the carefully planned planting and possibly crushing little visitors) but also to introduce a different range of plants.  Thus I have added two gorse bushes.

The fact that you see gorse all over harsh coastal areas, and also up the side of Olivers Mount in Scarborough, suggests that this is a hardy plant.  But from this link you can see that it also provides food and shelter to many insects and birds.

'Large White' Butterfly

We have had one very welcome visitor to our wildlife cafĂ© and that is this large white butterfly.  It was attracted to a new osteospermum plant that I have put in to replace the two that were obliterated by easterly winds last winter.

With the purpose of telling you other types of wildlife that can be seen in the surrounding areas, I am reporting my very first sighting of a native English snake - an adder.  This was in Ravenscar, close to the old discussed railway station and on a patch of grass above the sea.  It was undoubtedly a young adder as this picture here, but it just crawled out of the undergrowth to be seen for a few seconds and then back into the undergrowth to disappear.  I couldn't take a picture as it was so quick, but truly and lovely thing to see. 

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Spring 2015. What a Start!!

Well, I can't believe that last year's garden bioblitz was the last post I put on this blog.  2014 was a lovely summer, with really beautiful weather.  My tubs thrived and all went well.  But the beautiful weather also brought out lovely guests and we were so busy the blog went by the wayside!  Hay, ho.  That's the way things go sometimes.  Anyway.  A new year brings a start to the blog and spring has brought some wonderful suprises to my little wildlife garden. 

First to appear were a small number of snowdrops peaking their little white heads out into the harsh early spring weather.  These were then followed by crocuses.  I always forget what I have planted at the end of the previous year, so it's great when flowers emerge to remind me and show me that the planting was a success. 

Now, more recently we have daffodils.  I planted particularly small ones so that they had a better chance of avoiding any harsh winds.

Then. these lovely little pansies appeared.  I had planted them last summer and they flowered brilliantly.  Having died back it was lovely to see them make a further appearance this spring.
 Last autumn the buddleia was practically wiped out by a harsh wind, so I pruned it back quite brutally and hoped for the best.  Now as you can see the early growth is looking very positive.

There are some plants, such as the two lovely jolly osteospernums, that were also attacked by the harsh autumn winds.  I am not sure yet if they will recover, but fingers crossed!

There isn't much in the way of wildlife to report as yet, but I can't possibly not mention the fantastic sightings off Marine Drive of bottle nosed dolphins.  These lovely creatures have been seen several times and pictures of them are on our facebook page.  Also, Scarborough Porpoises on twitter have lots of information on sightings.

I mentioned the Garden Bioblitz earlier and 2015's Bioblitz is 30/31 May.  Have a look at the Bioblitz website if you fancy getting involved yourself.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

My 2014 Garden BioBlitz

2014 Bioblitz weekend was held on 31 May and 1 June.  With a better start to the year, things were promising to be much better than last year's Bioblitz and the weekend was quite pleasantly warm and sunny at times.

Sadly, although there are bees buzzing around my wildlife planting area most of the time, they all packed up and left for this weekend, so I couldn't report any sightings of these.  However, other things did make an appearance.

With regard to wild plants (or weeds) not intentionally planted we had a  lovely display on the grass area in the car park.  Intentionally we hadn't mown this area until after the weekend and it was covered in daisies, dandelions and clover.


Rigwort Plantain
There was also the usual rigwort plantain on show and a couple of other plants, that I had to search out to other Bioblitzers to identify. . . . . 

Germander Speedwell

Gallium Aparin

One, with lovely little blue flowers, was successfully identified on ISpot as Germander Speedwell.  The other, was identified via twitter and the BioBlitz team, and was this very stickly Cleaver, Gallium Aparine, which I now found can actually be eaten

With regard to wildlife there were a number of  garden worms and ladybirds on show, but additionally in the absence of bees, hoverflies were showing their presence and appeared often throughout the weekend.  


Then the wonderful world that can be found underneath garden tubs shouldn't be ignored and this is where I found this millipede.  Quite difficult to photofraph as once the tubs are moved everything dashes to find new cover, but I did find one.  

All in all it was a fairly successful bioblitz.  Now we are in the middle of a beautifully warm and sunny week, the bees are out in force.  Very few butterflies as yet, but the buddliea does appear to be about to flower and so this might attract a few.  Here's hoping.                                  


Monday, 28 April 2014

April sun and foggy mornings

It's been nearly a month since my last post and we have had the best and worst of Spring weather.  The run up to and over Easter was lovely, sunny, slightly chilly weather, but calm and pleasant.  Then, last Thursday saw a beautiful clear start to the day suddenly followed by a sea fret and the weather has been slightly damp and misty since then.  

But things are starting to grow and flourish, so hear is my latest update.

I have planted planted Hartsease seeds between paving slabs but am yet to see any life appear here.  Then Ox-Eye Daisy seeds being propogated in an old egg box are coming through but not big enough to plant outside yet.  I will this week be planting Corn Marigold seeds straight outside with a great deal of hope and optimism!

Here are some of the things that are happening.

I mentioned previously that bulbs were coming through and this is the flower of one that has proved most successful.  

Flowering Thyme

The thyme in my pot of herbs is flowering beautifully at the moment


The Osteospermum plant put in a tub for the first time last year is flowering.  The flowers have tried to come through a few times during late Winter and very early Spring but they do need a certain amount of sunlight to open up fully and this picture was taken on a bright day.  Today is a bit cloudy and the flowers aren't as open at all.

 Obviously the whole point of what I am doing is to attract wildlife and so here are the first two small sightings.  A Ladybird was happily nestled on some longer grass.  Quite close then was this snail . . . .  

This picture was taken on a wet day, hence the snail was very happy.  I don't like really like snails as they can destroy plants in a flash but I did think this one had a shell worth noting.

Needless to say the seagulls are once again building nests on the roof so we are finding bits of nesting material dropped outside the front of Phoenix Court and regularly seeing seagulls flying away with tufts of loose grass and plant material.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Back to winter

After a gloriously warm few days, which tricked everyone into thinking that the winter was over, we have once again returned to more normal March temperatures with some morning frosts and icy winds.  However, I have endeavoured to continue tidying up my garden area and found some positive things happening already.

I planted some bulbs at the end of 2012 and these produced a beautiful result last year.  Now I see they are nearly ready to flower again, producing some cheerful colour into the bed around the car park.

Also, right by these, the trusty armeria plants are showing signs of life and will soon be flowering in their lovely bright pink colour and starting to attract the early season insects.

Plants that struggled through the harsh 2012/13 winter have had a much easier time of it this year and so the two hebes that I have in tubs are looking quite robust.  They really struggled to do anything last year after being nearly destroyed by the weather but hopefully this year they will flower much more.
I am ready with seeds to plant - Hartsease to put in cracks in walls and paving, ox-eye daisy for my wild flower areas and corn marigold for the car park areas.  All of these should attract wildlife.

You might have heard the old tale - 'When in the trees the rooks build high expect the summer to be warm and dry'  Well we don't get many rooks right by us but someone who lives in another part of Scarborough has said that this is exactly what the rooks are doing.  Rooks, as you might know (particularly if you follow Autumn or Spring Watch), are incredibly clever birds.  So maybe they do know something.

Additionally I have heard that minke whales have been sighted by fishermen 25 miles off the coast.  This shows that as the sea warms up the smaller fish that these whales feed on are being attracted by the food further down the food chain.

So maybe Spring is coming?????

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Spring has sprung

Well, Spring appears to have arrived, at least for a few days and armed with a pair of new garden shears I have started the job of clearing up the garden and tub areas.

My main concern was that the buddleia was sprouting new green leaves the expected 12 cm up the old stems and therefore the old growth from last year was looking brown and lifeless above the new shoots.  This has now been rectified, as shown below.

So it looks like this might do quite well this year and hopefully attract a few more butterflies than last year.

The snow drops are coming to the end of their flowering life now but when fully open they are really pretty.  As I had a 50% increase on last year, I will try to pop a few more bulbs in later this year and with any luck have another massive increase in numbers next year.

Not much to say as yet on the wildlife spotting front although I understand the Peregrine Falcons are nesting on the north bay again this year, but I don't know exactly where as yet.  I will find out and let people know.

Also, unusually a sea lion has been making an appearance on the south bay over the last few weeks.  It comes in, lies on the beach and then leaves as the tied goes out.  The police, I understand, have been putting a cordon round it to protect it.  I can't imagine this is going to be a regular event but it's quite nice if likes the beach in Scarborough at least for a while.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Strange things happening over the winter.

Last year was so terrible weather wise, cold and icy for a long time during Spring, this might have helped strawberry growers, but it didn't help me with my attempts to grown things.  The Garden BioBlitz in June was terribly diffucult as everything was so backward and the plants weren't attracting insects.  Hence I didn't do much to my plants over the summer and the blog also suffered.  The weather did get better and business was good but the plants had to fend for themselves.

Now it's 2014 and I am starting again.

To compensate for the poor start to the summer, we have got off very lightly in Scarborough compared to other parts of the country.  It has been wet, cold at times and gloomy, but compared to previous winters actually quite mild.  As an example, the osteospermum that I planted last winter started flowering in January.  The flowers on this need sun to fully open and so they have stayed tightly shut.  But actually there are as many flowers as in the summer.

A few nasturtium seeds were also coming through in December.  No further results than are shown in this picture, however, but still very strange.

Over the last few weeks a few snow drops have appeared.  This was a better showing than last year and they look so jolly and optimistic during the cold winter months.
You can tell that I haven't done a lot of weeding.  This is mainly due to the amount of work we have been doing indoors to get ready for the new season, but it also provides a happy hibernating place for insects.

So things are ready to go, plants have survived a mild winter better than the past harsh snow filled winters and it looks like it might be a good year.

Here's hoping.