"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Monday, 28 April 2014

Garden Nesting Activity, Moths, Wildflower Meadow, Seedballs , Flowers and Colombines

Blue Tits

As mentioned in previous posts we are fortunate again this year that a pair of Blue Tits has chosen the nestbox with a camera installed. The first egg was laid on 14th April and she continued to lay an egg a day. Here ten on the 23rd April

and eleven here on the 24th April which proved to be the final total. This is the highest number of eggs laid since we had the nestbox camera 4 years ago. Although the female roosts in the nest box whilst laying she does not begin incubating until the clutch is more or less complete. She began incubation on 24th April. The chicks usually hatch after 13 - 15 days so hopefully we shall have a "happy event" around the 7th May or just after :)

A view of the nestbox situated in a Whitebeam tree. Notice the metal plaque round the entrance hole - the first year we installed the nestbox we had problems with a Great Spotted Woodpecker trying to break its way through the hole to eat the young. On that occasion the situation became so dire that we had to put chicken wire completely round the nestbox with holes big enough to allow the Blue Tits access but not the woodpecker. Luckily that year this worked and, after many nailbiting moments, the young fledged successfully.

Garden Moths

Moth numbers are low at the moment and due to overnight rain (and lack of moths!) I haven't been trapping so much recently. All trapping sessions with a 15w Actinic Skinner Trap

Saturday 12 April

Min Temp 5.5

Oak Beauty x 1 (Biston strataria)

Thursday 17 April

Min Temp 1.9

Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) x 1

Friday 18th April GMS week 8

Min Temp Minus 0.3!

Early Grey (Xylocampa areola) x 1
Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) x2

Thursday 24th April GMS Week 9

Min Temp 7.0

Shuttle-shaped Dart (Agrotis puta) x 1 New for Year
Knot Grass (Acronicta rumicis) x 1 New for Year

Shuttle-shaped Dart

Knot Grass

Wildflowers in the Garden

Plants are growing well in the wildflower "meadow" in the garden although this year unfortunately the couch grass problem seems to have worsened :(

Red Campion is starting to flower in some areas - some plants are far ahead of others!

Cowslips and Bluebells

Ribwort Plaintain

D bought me a tin of wildflower seedballs (the Butterfly Mix) for Mother's Day. It really is a clever idea each seedball is a mini ecosystem comprising wildflower seeds, chilli and clay (to keep off predators) and peat free compost and all you have to do is scatter the clay seedballs where you want the plants to grow. All seed is responsibly sourced from within the UK

I've decided to grow mine in troughs on the patio and there are still a few seedballs left to scatter round the garden. The Bees Welcome sign was a present from my daughter. I've placed it here temporarily but will probably put it up in the widlflower "meadow".

For more information please visit www.seedball.co.uk

Rearing Caterpillars

I'm rather pleased (to put it mildly) that we have caterpillars in the garden nettle patch. The larvae have constructed tents by pulling the edges of the nettle leaves together with silk. I am pretty sure they are Red Admiral caterpillars although occasionally Small Tortoiseshell also construct a larval tent from the leaves. The caterpillars are tiny at the moment and only emerge their heads in the evening to feed so I should be able to confirm the species when they are a bit bigger.

I haven't raised caterpillars since the children were little so am looking forward to rearing them this year. I managed to get hold of a large sweet jar from a local olde worlde sweet shop which seems ideal.

Garden Flowers

Honesty has spread itself all around the garden - the flowers are popular with bees and butterflies and I dry the papery seed cases to use in dried flower arrangements.

Marsh Marigold is flowering in the bog garden by the pond. I think I may have mentioned this before but the flowers have some wonderful country names - Kingcups, Golden Knobs, Water Goggles, May Bubbles, Bull's-Eyes and John Georges

The rockery behind the pond is looking more colourful by the day.

Bleeding Heart or Dutchman's Breeches!

We planted lots of Colombines in the front garden last year but they failed to flower so I assume they are biennial as this year they are full of flowers. The name Colombine comes from the flowers reminding people of a flight of doves and comes from the Latin "Columba". The genus name is Aquilegia from the Latin word for Eagle because the base of the flower resembles an eagle's claw. The country name for these flowers is Granny's Bonnet which is the name I prefer. At a certain stage of flower development they really do resemble an old lady's bonnet.


John said...

Lovely pictures and very informative to boot. I'll look into those seed balls with a view to throwing them into the wildflower meadow which I'm try to encourage on my new allotment.

Ragged Robin said...

John Wooldridge - Thanks so much John. Glad you liked the seedballs - the Company do several "mixes" or you can buy individual flower tins. I can't wait to see them grow :)

Em Parkinson said...

Columbines are one of my favourite spring flowers and I have them everywhere. The leaves hang around and look good for ages too. I try Honesty every year but have only managed to get it to grow once. The slugs ate most of it and it certainly didn't self seed! Very envious as I love it. I'm off to look at the seed balls and I'm looking forward to seeing the hatching of your Blue Tit eggs.

Ragged Robin said...

Em Parkinson - Thanks so much. We are really pleased how well the colombines are doing in the front garden because we've never had much lack with them in the back! Sorry to hear about your honesty. There were plants when we moved in years ago and even though the garden has been completely redone they still persist!!

Wendy said...

A wonderful post Caroline and some lovely photos. That is more exciting news about your bluetits. The bluetits here are a little ahead of yours - all 10 eggs have hatched now and there are lots of wriggling little creatures in the camera nest box!
I love the 'bees welcome'sign. I nearly bought some seed balls at the garden show I visited a few weeks ago but ended up buying some packets of wildflowers instead, so I'll be really interested to see how yours do.

Ragged Robin said...

Wendy - Thanks so much Wendy. Great news that your eggs have hatched and you have 10 chicks :) I do hope they do well!

The Bees Welcome sign came in a pack from M and S with a packet of wildflower seeds and a pottery honey pot :)

It will be interesting to see how the seedballs do. When we originally did the wildflower meadow (and on occasions since when parts have been re-seeded) we used packet seed from an online company called Meadowmania. I also got a free packet of seeds recently from Countryfile/Kew Gardens :)

Rohrerbot said...

It looks so beautiful around your place right now. The nesting box is an interesting thing. You never know who will show up. I was thinking about getting one for my yard. I know I'd be feeling the same way as you are now with the babies. We have a Momma Owl here at school and every year we are super protective of them. We had another successful year with all 4 of the owlets leaving their nest.

And that photo of the Marsh of Morua was taken with LOTR Part 2 in mind. I knew you would get it:) That made my day. Have a good week/end. I may take it easy and relax a bit. It has been a whirlwind of emotions this past month. Too much going on. Wishing happy thoughts for the little ones!

Ragged Robin said...

Chris Rohrer - Thanks so much Chris :) I love your owls and owlets and I am thrilled they've been successful again this year :) I remember how hard you have worked to protect them and keep them safe!

Oh goody :) re: Marsh of Morua - Great minds think............. So glad it made your day :) You get ideas of locations from the books and that photo was so like some of the way I have imagined Tolkien's world :)

Hope things quieten down for you soon Chris. Try and relax this weekend and take it easy for a while and enjoy those beautiful gardens of yours :) Sometimes we all need to take a break even from the things that we love doing so much. Take care - all the best Caroline

SeagullSuzie said...

The rockery looks beautiful-so much colour. I love the idea of the seedballs, we have so many slugs here they eat almost everything so I have to be careful what I plant out. I brought lots of Grannys Bonnet seeds with me from my last garden as I love them, and they are just establishing well now.

Ragged Robin said...

SeagullSuzie - Thanks so much :) Seedballs might be worth trying due to their predator deterrent! We have problems with slugs and snails too and we don't use slug pellets or other nasties so it is difficult. Gave up on hostas!!! I'm so pleased your Granny's Bonnet seeds are establishing so well :)