Humming Birds ~ The Fine Art of Writing Well (Quadra House Books)
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It also has anti spasmodic properties, but is such a rare treat it should always be left undisturbed and unpicked. The advantage of seeing hedges from a bicycle is that it is then easy to spot when plants are running to seed. This year I shall be collecting native bluebell seeds to broadcast around the woods these will come from the bluebell glade at the end of the woods, thus ensuring I have the most natural varient of bluebells. I've also noted where there are large numbers of orchids, which I'll scatter into our patch of meadow in front of Mevy.
Orchids should always be undisturbed, and I shall be careful to only take a few seeds from each plant, to ensure lineage continues. Finally it is Chelsea Chop time; when autumn flowering plants like sedums are pruned to encourage later flowering and bushy plants. I have stuck all my sedum cuttings into soil, after taking the lower leaves off first, so in theory may well have in excess of fifty new plants to give away later in the year. Let me know if you would like one!
I've left the tops on some and pinched out the growing tips of others, so will be interested to see which do best. May 10th - A flower for every day of the year What a lot of time has elapsed since writing. This is not because I have been idle, but have been spending time creating another wildlife facility on Pinterest. Last year I decided it would be a good idea to profile a different plant in flower for each day of the year and chose to host this on our Pinterest page, where it can be shared easily. You can see my journal for the first three months here. At this time of the year the job becomes much easier and I'm faced with a choice of new flowers, as more and more open each day as we head to peak flower time in June.
Another joy of this time of year is nettle tops, sorrell and wild garlic. These make a great soup when combined with potatoes, salt, pepper and a stock cube if you want it. Alternatively nettles and garlic are a good accompaniment to feta cheese and pine nuts when wrapped in pastry and sprinkled with a little nutmeg.
Hence the strict requirement to always wash our hands before eating! Thanks to Reddish Vale Country Park for the following information about Cuckoo Pint; "The Cuckoo Pint has an interesting way of being pollinated, flies can go into a hidden chamber in the flower, but an arrangement of hairs prevents them from flying out again. However this is not meant to be a death trap, but a simple way to ensure that the insects stay for the night to pollinate the flowers. The next day the stamens will mature and shed pollen on the flies.
This process results in the withering of the hairs and the insects are free once more to fly off to find another similar hotel room for the night. Later on in the year, all that remains of the plant is the fruiting stalk with bright orange-red berries. These berries are very poisonous to people and can result in death if eaten. January 6th Now we're formally in the depths of winter and what a mild, wild and wet one this year is turning out to be , it may seem that fresh flowers would be hard to find.
However a turn around the garden shows lots of things flower at this time of year; rosemary, dwarf comfrey, daphne, bergenia, vincas, hellebores, quince, candy tuft, primulas, lungwort, viburnum tinus, winter honeysuckle, wintersweet, grape hyacinths, crocuses, mahonia, to name but a few.
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Many of these are good for our bees, which with the mild weather are flying out of season and need all the help they can get to return to their hives. The first of the snowdrops are out and daffodils are budding up ready to flower in the next couple of weeks too. Vases still need to be filled; often winter flower arranging is easier than summer; there really should never be a need to spend money on shop bought flowers.
Rather than pick precious pollen providing flowers from the garden, there are some fabulous greenery shrubs that will last for ages in water; rosemary, myrtle, euonymous, lonicera nitida. Add a few sprays of viburnum tinus and the room will smell beautiful. The flower arrangement shown here has lasted nearly a fortnight and still looks good.
Red spears of phormium or strands of variegated pampas grass leaf finish the vases with style. Leaf mould is brilliant stuff for feeding the soil, mulching, or adding to compost.
It is particularly good for ericaceous plants and each year I feed our camellias with a good thick wadge. We make our own leaf mould stores; it is very easy - all you need is a bit of chicken wire or similar. It is a good idea to have two bins; one for this year and one for last. I have been busy making bug houses, and I think you will agree that my bug people make the perfect presents.
So with the rapid marching of December, here is a visual demonstation. Cut out some rings of wood. I use sweet chestnut, because it lasts forever. Draw on your face. Drill out the facial features with different sized drill bits, from mm. Add a way of fastening to a surface - I made the eyes wider, then drilled smaller holes through the wood so I could screw it in place. Add hair. October 23rd Here is our video made for the Cornwall Sustainability Awards showing our carriages and gardens. We are rather pleased with it - being quite a novice with video editing. It was filmed on an ipad mini using a camera tripod Dave has adapted.
September 9th With autumn rapidly approaching, now is the time to become busy and prepare shelters and logpiles for hedgehogs and other hibernating mammals. Here is some advice on how to go about it all.
I shall certainly be putting in some new houses this autumn; they are great fun to make. The great thing about bug hotels is that they can be as simple or complex as you wish; it is very easy to use a favourite theme as a subject eg train What you need is a series of tubes, or holes drilled in wood. They ideally need to be as smooth as possible.
You can have a mixture of tubes and wood with holes, this would work well.
You can buy bee sized cardboard tubes online; try Wildlife World or Bird Food - replacement mason bee tubes Clay bricks with holes drilled in provides another habitat, as does cardboard and straw, which can be stuffed into terracotta plant pots. Bee ready clay bricks are available from Waitrose online, or at Green and Blue Another option is wall mounted hotels. What we have done works well, simply pieces of chestnut with holes drilled in them; you can make faces, trains, or whatever you like.
September 8th It's been a shockingly long time since I wrote anything in this blog, but it is not because we have been idle; we have been to and fro excitedly watching the pond in Hayle taking shape and learning as we have gone along.
I have also made a page all about our wildlife gardens, which you can read here. June 12th Hurrah! We are now officially business supporters of the Cornwall Wildlife Trust. Our support helps the Trust manage 57 nature reserves, providing refuge for nationally rare and endangered species. Cornwall Wildlife Trust runs a number of conservation projects across the county, on land and in our seas. June 1st The elder flowers are out. The elder has a long history of medicinal purpose. This woody shrub with its scented lacy flowers and edible berries is a must for any wildlife garden.
And even better, at this time of year you can make Elderflower Fizz, the taste of my childhood summers. This is from a copy of Farmers Weekly, July the 11th Take four heads of elderflowers, 1lb 8ozs sugar g , 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 1 gallon cold water, 2 lemons. Put everything in a bowl; squeeze the juice from the lemons then quarter them. Leave to stand for 24 hours. Strain through a sieve is fine and bottle. We use plastic bottles, as the tops can then be loosened from time to time when the pressure rises. It is best to leave them for two weeks, but the fizz can be drunk after a few days.
May 25th Our pond at Harvey has begun. The balance is always between safety and aesthetics; we wanted to have a completely natural look without the interruption of a grid over the top, so have decided to place a safety grill a few inches below the surface of the water, and put up a small fence with a padlocked gate to toddler and baby proof the area.
This inevitably has added quite a lot of extra work, so summer Saturdays are going to be busier than ever this year! May 16th Cycling through the countryside at this time of year is a complete assault on the senses.
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It has been the best of years for violets and primroses, which have now bowed to the bright pinks of campions, blue bells, and the airy white of cow parsley. I've even seen lesser spotted orchids in the hedges by Bake and Ince castle. These pretty but fairly rare plants dislike being moved. One of the joys of stopping beside a Cornish hedge is waiting for the rustle of movement. Many birds nest in hedges. At least 30 species nest in hedgerows. Many of these, such as bullfinches and turtle doves, prefer hedgerows over 4 m tall, with lots of trees, whereas whitethroats, linnets and yellowhammers favour shorter hedgerows m with fewer trees.