July 3

What’s happening on the Wildlife Plot June 2023

It’s been another hot, dry month. The wildlife garden is not watered at all, other than topping up the pond, and so everything in it must survive on its own. If it doesn’t, we don’t grow it. I think this is one of the reasons why foxgloves find it so difficult to establish themselves. However, there are many plants that will tolerate these conditions and they have been out in force along with the wildlife. I will write another post mid-July about which flowering plants have done well this year and last during the droughts because it is my personal opinion that this type of weather is here to stay and that we shouldn’t be using drinking quality water on gardens.

This month has been all about fly-tipping, moths, creating new bits of the garden and a date for the Exmouth in Bloom judges to visit.

It’s not the greatest time in this hot weather to turn a compost bin but needs must. The compost on the wildlife plot takes a long time to make because it is mostly brown material. We just don’t have any green to add to the heap although I do bring grass clippings from home every now and then.

The bin was full so I decided to turn it and of course the robins were soon there to help. There are two of them and I think they are nesting at the back of the shed on the plot. They certainly have young they are feeding judging by the number of grubs and insects they retrieved.

We have our very own sculptural Bankseys creating art with the drainpipes from the back of the shop. I suspect it is children but the contraptions make a welcome change around the plot. The latest is a piece of engineering to pour water into the pond. As I was clearing some of the weed out of the pond I found newts in the bottom under all the mud and roots of the plants but couldn’t get a photo of them. These are why we no longer have frog or toad spawn. They eat it all.

There has been a lot of anecdotal evidence about the lack of butterflies this year and I would agree. I have seen very few on the plot although one I did see early on in the month is the Holly Blue. We have some Holly deep in the wooded bed to the left of the shed and this year is the first year I have managed to see any, never mind get a quick photo.

If you plant a Verbascum the Mullein moth caterpillar (Cucullia verbasci) will find it within days – and yes they did. This time it wasn’t a self-seeded verbascum but a named variety that someone donated to the plot. We won’t see the flowers but we might spot the moths later.

Talking of moths. There have been a few around, sometimes disturbed by me and others flying-during-the-day moths. Tucked away I found a Dark Arches and there are several little orange things, probably Orange Moth, flying around if you disturb the hazels.

The biggest job this month has been to tidy up and clear out all the rubble, soil and junk which was chucked over the fence right down at the very bottom of the wildlife plot, past the compost heap where no one really goes. It is a dead end now that the fence closes off the gate to the carpark (it was necessary to do so to safeguard the children in the nursery) and so I have been leaving it and planned to coppice the hazels every four to five years.

There was glass, plastic – small and large pieces, metal, wood, stones and blocks of concrete, chicken wire and posts, mountains of greenery – 3 builder’s bags, dog toys, enough wooden curtain rings for a whole house of curtains all underneath a pile of soil up to my waist. If you walk down there now, you might find that you are walking on a new soil path. I had to put the soil somewhere so it is everywhere!

With some help, I have now cleared it – I had to cut the hazels down to clear the area but they are now freed from being under the rubble and so will sprout in no time. Being of the mind that doing more of the same leads to madness, I am going to do something different with this area. I will coppice the hazels every year or two and grow hardy geraniums and other plants that will grow in the damper and sometimes shadier spot than the rest of the garden. At the back, to try and prevent easy tipping of rubble etc, I have put up a corrugated iron ‘fence’ and then build a brash hedge infront of it. The land behind the corrugated iron fence is probably not ours so please don’t go traipsing up there.

The only problem with creating a new garden at this time of year is that it is the wrong time and because we have no real rain forecast, I do not want to dig up some of the geraniums in the main garden and divide them yet so it is just going to have to sit there until the autumn when hopefully it might rain.

The Exmouth in Bloom judges are visiting on the 25th of July. If anyone would like to loiter at about 3.30pm on the plot you are more than welcome.

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Posted July 3, 2023 by alijoy in category wildlife, wildlife garden

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