Sunday, 21 December 2014

Merry Christmas , Happy Holidays from Diary Of A Wild Country Garden!

It is the Winter Solstice today 21st December 2014 and right now is the shortest day of the whole year. That is the shortest hours of daylight for the year. After today we very gradually gain a little more daylight every day and nature responds.


Where I live the worst of the weather is potentially still to come. I has been quite a mild start to winter really this year.  The garden is still and quiet to our eyes but is getting ready to steel itself through the winter and burst forth in Spring. 


Many of our creatures like the hedgehog are still in hibernation. Sometimes I think they have the right idea! They will have found a cosy spot in the gardens or maybe even in our garage for the winter.


If you do see a hedgehog outside in winter and it looks underweight or sick do contact your local hedgehog rescue or wildlife team for advice. You can read more here Caring For A Sick Or Injured Hedgehog 
Hedgehog, Mug
Hedgehog, Mug by mag26s
Browse Hedgehog Mugs online at Zazzle.com


 Others like the Robin are a regular feature in our garden now. He is so used to us he is not afraid though he does seem to miss our digging activities! Now our heavy clay earth is hard as a rock so no digging for us until it warms up a bit. 


Still our Robin hops up close whenever I am in the garden and I often watch him through the window as, mainly now at dusk, I see him looking for his dinner. His eyes are sharp and able to see at this time, when the competition is much less, as other birds retreat.


We have a big bag of wild bird seed and filling up feeders so the little birds so do not suffer  for when it gets very cold. I often wonder how any do survive a winter and they need all the help they can get.



Our bird bath is regularly refilled. The birds of all sizes still visit often to drink and to bathe so its important to keep it clean and fresh. I still think its vital to provide water as well as food all throughout the winter.


Amazingly and probably due to our very warm autumn and mild start to winter our snapdragons are still out blooming! Admittedly there is only one left now and it is looking a little sorry for itself but it is still there shining yellow. 


So my thoughts now turn to the next year of gardening with wildlife in mind and it wont be long before I am looking at those seed catalogs and dreaming of a beautiful Spring and Summer in the garden. Like most gardeners I try each year to improve upon the last and make the garden a better place for us and our wildlife.  


So I will soon be taking a little time off for a few days. Then as it will be very quiet in the garden in January that is when  I intend to reflect back on the year and share some highlights with you for inspiration and to cheer us up in the deep winter. 


For now I wish you a Very Happy Christmas if you celebrate it and a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful New Year for all and of course Happy Gardening !! :) 


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Friday, 19 December 2014

Do You Love Winter?

While it has to be said that Winter is not my favourite time of year there is a special magic about it that I find I love...


The flowers are largely gone and many of the trees have lost their leaves and it can all look a little bleak.


However, if you look closer you start to notice the tree bark on its trunk and branches. Usually we do not notice it so much, the leaves and blossoms take centre stage most of the year and the bark plays only a supporting role. 


However, now if we take the time to look, we see the beautiful intricate contours on its trunk, the different colours and the often lacey pattern the bare branches make against a clear winter sky.


The winter berries shine out red and glistening in a winter frost, providing a beautiful and powerful splash of colour just when we most need it most. 


Of course the holly berries are wonderful and the cotoneaster, if they have not all already been eaten by the birds! 



In some trees such as the Magnolia you can, just look closely again, see the buds forming all ready to burst forth in Spring. they are all there ready, just protected for now and waiting for the right time.  


It can be a great time for birdwatching. Feed the birds, give them fresh clean water and watch them frequent your garden. Hours of enjoyment from the comfort of your armchair!


If it does snow then, although it can be a pain to travel in,  it can also be very magical, beautiful and you get to see the prints of the animals and birds that frequent your garden. 


Yes I have to work harder to find things to really love about winter but it still gives me much to enjoy in nature and in my life.


I love bright sunny cold winter walks all wrapped up in gloves, hat and scarf and my red winter coat. 


Often country walks are quieter at this time and I love to see the birds and animals, take in the winter scenes and get some good fresh air.   


Of course part of what I do love about winter is coming back from those winter walks, getting all warm and cosy inside with a nice mug of hot chocolate, into my PJs in front of a roaring fire with comforting low lights and candles and just being cosy!

Winter Pajamas Mug
Winter Pajamas Mug by AmazingMart
Browse Funny Mugs online at Zazzle.com


On this page is a detailed look at why I Love Winter 



Do you love winter, do you like getting out and about, can you find some things to enjoy about it? 


Or do you prefer like some of our garden friends to hibernate until its all over ! 


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Monday, 15 December 2014

What do You Do With Autumn Fallen Leaves?.

We have several trees that shed their leaves in late Autumn. 


We get a beautiful carpet of glorious golds, bronzes, reds and bronze on the grass and gravel. Its gorgeous....


It is so lovely it is tempting to leave it there but for some at least we have a good use for it. 


We used to just rake them all up and put in the bin for the council to take away. However, we have since discovered a few better uses in our own garden to help us and the wildlife. 
 



We take some of the leaves and use them to cover our little wild mammal shelter. It is really just a collection of logs and sticks left over from prunings in a corner of the garden but I like to think it gives some shelter from the wind and cold and rain for the little mammals and the hedgehogs if we are lucky. So the leaves go on top for some added warmth. We add a few more sticks on top of that to keep them somewhat in place.



OK some of the leaves we put in the borders. There they provide a little shelter for tiny creatures in the winter. Of course usually blackbirds come along and as is their way ruck up the leaves to find dinner beneath so the leaves benefit them too.


We also leave piles of leaves in corners so that if any creature wishes to use them as bedding or a warm place they have some available.  



Finally to us. We scoop up all the remaining leaves and bag them up in strong garden bags and seal securely. Then pick a few holes in the sides and bottom of the bag for air circulation. If the leaves are dry we add water just with the hosepipe or watering can before sealing up. 


Then we put them somewhere out of the way and simply leave them. The idea is that the leaves will rot down and by next year will be lovely useable leaf mould. 


This saves us money and puts the leaves to good use all over the garden, some for the wildlife and some for us. Not at all bad for an hours work and a totally free resource given very year by nature.


In addition if you have children or grandchildren it is is wonderful to collect the autumn leaves and use them to teach kids about the different leaf shapes and colours and types of trees. 


As a child I used to run in the leaves then collect them to press and learn about trees. It was so much fun!  



If you love the colours of autumn you may enjoy these items below.


What do you do with your garden leaves? If you have any other uses do let us know


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Thursday, 11 December 2014

Snails In The Garden

I was looking through my photos today of the garden over summer and autumn and came across this one of a snail. Its not really cute and certainly not cuddly but it is fascinating and a part of the garden and it does live there....quite happily.


Now snails are not generally on a gardeners top most wanted visitors list ! However as a life form and a part of nature I respect them.


Yes I do have some choice words for them when they eat all my marigolds as they did this year and when they and their slug friends eat holes in my plants leaves, but they are a part of the gardens rich tapestry.  I accept it.

I also do feel that some of their shells are quite pretty and when they pop their heads out they can really be quite cute :)


Also somewhat morbidly I know, if there are snails in my garden it is helping the survival of the Thrush bird who eats snails and the hedgehog who is partial to a snail in the diet, both creatures who are not doing so well in nature at present. You can read more here about How To Help Hedgehogs In The Garden


Many a morning I have woken to the sound of snail being bashed against rock by a thrush.  I have stepped out onto our patio and our stone steps to find a litter of empty snail shells.


This is a little sad, but also is the way of the natural world. Many, many more snails do go on to survive and thrive pretty well in my garden ! They love to live behind my pots and in the deep foliage of the big leaved plants like the Elephants ears. We even found a whole colony under some boards that hubby forgot to move for a couple of weeks propped up by the fence!  Some were huge snails and so they do pretty well !



My friend who is a keen gardener of flowers is horrified that I leave the snails alone! He wants to stamp on them, use beer traps or any of the other methods of killing snails. I do nothing and let nature take its course. Yes I have lost flowers and vegetables but I am learning not to plant the flowers they love- unless its a decoy away from the veg!


I will not use slug and snail pellets. They are in my opinion unnecessary and dangerous for so many of our creatures.  We have to think about the food chain. When a slug or snail eats a pellet it dies, it is then eaten by a bird or small mammal who then they themselves may die or if they do not die quickly they can be eaten by say an owl who then ingests the creature and its pellet and gets sick or dies.

So in the end many pellets do not just kill the slugs and snails. Equally if there are no live healthy snails around, what will the hedgehogs and thrushes eat?

 For me, well, despite the odd grumble I think I would miss the snails and their slow, but sure antics in my garden  if they were gone....


Snail Mail Postcard by juliacollard
Design unique photo postcard at zazzle.com

Also you know there is something about a snail...the way they slowly but surely roam around carrying their house on their back. So slow and yet, somehow travelling so far and allowing no obstacle to stop them it seems.


Watching them scale huge heights in relation to their size and for my snails anyway not letting minor trifles like gravel, or sharp sand, or vaseline, or any of the other anti snail deterrents deter them for their main aim of eating my plants!!


You have you, don't you admire their tenacity!!


If you are someone who likes snails and I know a few people who really do, the ones below are actually rather cute ! The snail shell can be very pretty and especially when done in silvers and golds look lovely and a little bit unique and unusual.




So how do you feel about snails ?

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Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Our Curious Squirrel Visitor



Look at this little guy! He is adorable and he visited our garden.


 Its getting cold here now and I think this little one was looking to increase his store of food before the real winter sets in and thought our garden may have some hidden treasures no other squirrel had found. 


He is a grey squirrel, not native to UK but originally from America and certainly successful in colonising many areas and finding opportunities for food and shelter. 


Our native squirrel is a Red Squirrel, smaller and much more reddish in colour than a Grey Squirrel,  but we do not see those  anymore here, the nearest to us are in Northumberland and Scotland.

Cute Squirrel Mug
We don't very often get squirrels in our garden, they seem to prefer the woodland nearby and the cemetry where there are huge mature trees with a good supply of nuts. This one however decided to try his luck. 



 

Order custom mugs on zazzle.


We do not encourage squirrels, mainly because there are a number of houses here and if a squirrel took up residence in a loft space and started chewing through any electrical wiring there could be disaster for many homes! So if they visit, they do, but we do not feed them deliberately.  Still it is lovely to see them visit occasionally.



Well this guy or gal (I am not sure) took a good look around. He was not very afraid of me and seemed very curious, foraging for a while near me then looking directly at me as I stood really still. He seemed to almost  "pose" for a few photos before he dashed off at great speed again flicking his tail and scampering away to the big trees...


Cute Squirrel Keychain 

It was a lovely half hour he stayed and I was freezing cold, not having anticipated being out that long with my camera, but it was all good and I am thawing out now :) 


Cute Squirrel Keychain by RaintreeDesigns
Look at Zazzle Keychains





I even made a few gifts with squirrels photos which I hope you enjoy. 

I have a feeling this little guy may be featuring on more designs if people like him :)

    
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