Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Magnificent Magnolias In The Spring Garden

Magnolias are simply beautiful! The tree itself is lovely and provides us with gentle shade in the summer and the blossoms in April and May are stunning.

From the tight buds with the promise of flower in March to the slow reveal during April to opening up to their full beauty they are a Spring time delight I will never tire of.

 I am lucky enough to have inherited a gorgeous mature magnolia in our garden. It has the most beautiful pale pink and creamy white cup shaped blossoms.

The blooms are very soft to touch and surprisingly strong. I have seen birds take them away to their ests, no doubt they make a good soft and secrue base for eggs.

 Now anywhere I go I will if at all possible plant a Magnolia.

 Most take several years before flowering but one or two like the Black tulip  a deep pink bloom do flower early in thier life.

They do not generally like sandy soil or alkaline soil - do not put mushroom mulch on them. Leaf mould is good to mulch with.

Over 20 million years old as a genus they are pre historic trees and so evolved before bees. So they are polinated by beetles who live inside the flower blooms. 

The reason that the carpels of the flower blossoms are so strong and tough is to avoid them becoming damaged by the pollinating beetles. 

I never want anyone to cut the Magnolia down and am looking to see if I can get a tree preservation order on it - I am fearful that when we sell our home someone will want the garden space to park their car which in my view would be a disaster.

So many front gardens and beautiful plants and trees have been lost this way.

This time of year our Magnolia is in full bloom and utterly gorgeous.

A magnolia should not be pruned unless necessary and then as lightly as possible. Ideally buy a Magnolia that will fit the space you have when full grown. If you have to prune then take out dead and dying wood and prune after flowering as lightly as you can doing it over several years rather than a harsh cut. 

If like me you wish you could see Magnolia blossom all year round  there are some items here that you may enjoy

Magnolia Blossom In Spring Greeting Cards
Magnolia Blossom In Spring Greeting Cards by RaintreeDesigns
Check out more Magnolia Cards at Zazzle

If in UK please use this link Magnolia Blossoms In Spring Greeting Card by Raintree Designs  

There are more designs and more greetings cards and gifts on a flower and nature theme as well in the store so do take a look. 

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Monday, 20 April 2015

Are Birds Busy Nestbuilding In Your Garden?

Springtime always sees the birds busy nestbuilding. I have seen many birds gathering nestbuilding materials from around our garden. This woodpigeon in the photograph found a nice large twig to start the nest with !

I always find its a bit of a balance for me in the garden at this time of year. Part of me has an inclination to tidy everything up and get it looking nice after the winter. 

However, the larger part of me wants there to be habitat and materials for our garden visitors to use.  I know many of our neighbours keep a very tidy garden so especially at the front I do keep things neater there, but the back is very private and can be more for wildlife. I have written  a post earlier you may like to read about Are We Too Tidy In Our Gardens? 

I know that nature likes and needs a bit of untidyness and that is useful to the birds and animals that visit and live in our garden. So in general our garden is a little on the untidy side or as i like to think it on the wildlife friendly side. We have a pile of logs in one corner and cuttings and twigs are left on the borders for the creatures to make use of as they wish. This time of year the birds love it ! 

I do so enjoy seeing them fly down to gather up a mass of twigs in their beaks and try to see where they fly to as that is where the nestbuilding begins. It is amazing how many twigs one blackbird can fit in its beak! 

I also put out the dander from the dryer to give them something soft if they want it to line the nest. I used to put out dog fur from grooming our golden retriever and it was surprising how many nests we could see afterwards which had golden or cream dog fur peeking out for the lining !   

The blossoms from our Magnolia tree make a good nest lining too, so soft yet strong. So we leave them where they fall like confetti and very pretty.  

So perhaps this year leave a bit of untidyness in the garden, a few sticks and twigs lying around,  they are the birds building materials. 

If you have a dog perhaps after grooming don't put the fur in the bin,  but pop it outside so that the birds can make use of it as their soft furnishings. 

You will be well rewarded for a little bit of untidyness with birdsong and nests :) If you are interested and would like to read my story of the life of a blackbird nest- from nest to fledglings please read Our Nesting Blackbirds.

 Are you seeing birds busy gathering materials and nestbuilding in your garden? 

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Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Where to Site A Bird Table Or Bird Feeder.

I havent posted in a while ...and for that I apologise. Life sometimes has a way of well, getting in our own way.

Anyway in between things going on I have still enjoyed our garden. In fact the garden is often a place of solace, of peace and quiet for me. 

 In the winter, I have to admit my time in the garden is much less, usually to fill up the bird feeders!! So when I emerge in the Spring the birds do chatter at me and my hubby. It is as if the garden is theirs and we are intruders, but of course it is really their garden after all.    

So it is good to take in the Spring garden, to look, to listen, to evaluate and we have been doing all of that and doing all the necessary after winter work. It is lovely to enjoy the Spring, the new shoots, the blooms, the new life emerging from the earth. In the trees and shrubs birds are busy nesting and the beautiful sound of birdsong fills the air from dawn to dusk now.

We continue to feed the birds as it is a busy time of year for them, finding a mate, nestbuilding and rearing young and they may need a little help. I am also frequently joined by Mr and Mrs Blackbird after any digging in the garden and Robin always appears about five minutes after I take hold of any garden fork or spade!  

In my blog Essential Wildlife Gardening Gifts I recently reviewed a lovely Bird Feeder. I was thinking that while it is good to have bird feeders in the garden it is equally important to have an awareness of where to site them. 

I have certainly made my fair share if mistakes over the years with siting bird feeders! Once in a new house I placed one right in the path of where the neighbourhood cats gathered, no good at all! 

Also last year I hung one in a tree near a big branch and all i got on that birdfeeder most of the time was two huge Woodpigeons who worked out that if they sat on the big branch and bashed the feeder it all eventually came out! Messy and while I like Woodpigeons I would like to attract a variety of birds. 

So where should you place a bird feeder ideally?

1. Out of the way of cats. Easier said than done in my experience but certainly not in the pathway of visiting cats. We have two cats who seem to make a well worn track through our garden, they appear to have the same routine so I simply avoid placing feeders on that path. Another thing you can do is to place the feeder nearby cover so the birds can fly into it when they need, but not in dense cover that a cat could hide in without them being aware of it. I have talked to neighbours about putting bells on the cats, to alert the birds they are there. Some are happy to do that, others not. 

Perhaps if anyone has knowledge of cats they can give some advice on how birds and cats can coexist in a garden? 

2. Ideally do not place feeders in the same place every year. We should be cleaning out feeders and bird tables anyway but there is still risk of disease if not cleaned enough or if the same places are overused. So move the feeders probably the best time is just before Autumn so the birds can get used to the new place before the really cold weather begins.If you have feeders out now they can stay where they are but do clean them out.   

3. If you want to watch the birds a consideration is ot place it where you can see it easily. This should not perhaps be the first consideration but is an important one as many people including me, get considerable pleasure from bird watching. 

4. It is generally not a good idea to position the feeder in an exposed windy spot. I did this once and got no birds visiting it at all! It was simply moving around way too much. The feeder, especially hanging ones may here get blown about and look unstable to the birds. If its a bird table, do make sure it is securely fastened so it does not blow over in high winds or gales, as much for your safety as for the birds. Try a quiet more sheltered area away from the winds. 

5. Feeders that can be positioned directly onto windows can be wonderful for bird watching. This can be especially useful for people who may not be able to get out as much or feel the cold and wnds but can watch birds from the comfort of their home. Or just for anyone who likes to see birds as close as possible. Just make sure that the birds would not be trapped should a predator come by, that they have an escape route or small bush  or tree to fly into for cover nearby ideally. Our birds love our dense shrubs for this.

6. If you have an existing tree or bush that has berries the birds like already (our cotoneaster seems to be a firm favourite!) you can try hanging  a feeder there too. If the birds are like ours they will eat all the berries first but then the bird seed feeder will be there for them to eat, when they have exhausted the natural food source and they will be used to visiting that tree anyway. 

7. Ideally  position the feeder where it will not get the worst of the rain or if it is not fully waterproof in downpours it may get the seed all wet and soggy.

With any bird feeder it may take a little while for them to get used to it nd so try just a small amount of food at first. Once the first brave bird has eaten from it without incident, more will follow !

So just a few ideas. It is best to try out different places in your garden and see where the birds like. You will know you got it right when you see the birds visiting on a regular basis.  

Good luck and enjoy the birds in your garden! 

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