How a little wild garden can change

Posted by Tina on February 14, 2021  /   Posted in Uncategorized

It is not a strange title really. My little wild garden has changed enormously since its original inception when we had myriad visiting animals and birds, as well as hubbie’s vegetable patch beyond. There was also a beautiful privet hedge along the bottom, which, along with mature ash trees, was supposed to be protected from removal, but which have now been removed (housing development). The photograph shows the original wild garden design which flourished with all manner of incumbents. We had hedgehogs, pheasants, muntjac, woodmice, the occasional black rat (which, in full view, chomped the seeds of common vetch), and black and grey squirrels. Birds galore included chaffinches, greenfinches, goldfinches, longtailed tits, coal tits, blue tits, great tits, red poll, starlings, blackbirds, crows, magpies, jackdaws. Amphibians and reptiles: common frog (about 50), two little toads, common newts, grass snake (from next door’s compost heap). We even had a green parakeet visit the bird feeders (view story here).

2008: Original little wild garden, veggie patch and privet hedge.
This photograph was taken in June 2010 just after the trees (and dovecote) were planted. The dovecote cost £400 and disintegrated in December 2020 (husband called it my “Brown” elephant! As you can see, wild flowers and grasses are abundant, even sunflowers sprung up from dropped bird seed. Sprigs of the privet hedge are still in view, but disappeared soon after, and now (2019) a 6ft solid wooden fence has been constructed, blocking even more light – but the shade-loving wild plants such as aconite, snowdrop, lesser celandine and stinking hellebore will hopefully still grow.

After the removal of ash trees and the privet hedge by the owner of the new property at the rear of our garden, I planted lots of trees to shield the view of the new buildings which had taken away our beautiful green-space views (and, sadly, for a while my sanity—there is so much heartache and sadness associated with losing nature, when the loss of the trees and hedges which we had enjoyed for over 40 years were very suddenly not there). Planted tree species include: holly (x2), yew, rowan, walnut, oak, cobnut, horse chestnut, larch, Scots pine, crab apple, sweet chestnut, hawthorn, box, gorse, cooking apple, mulberry, and a loquat and olive tree which have since been moved to the front of our house to the Mediterranean herb garden where they are more protected from the cold.

The cobnut, left, has since been removed because it ran amok! Note the large beech tree, centre, is in the telephone exchange beyond our garden, which has now been viciously “pruned”
…and as we do not get any animals now I succumbed to “pretend” ones! Note the horrid colour stream with no plant life. When we first put in the stream I had water cress growing in it, but everything deteriorated over the summer. No wildlife, not even a frog or newt!
Left, oak, yew, horse chestnut (behind) rowan (skinny stick) larch, crab apple, gorse in front, sweet chestnut and cooking apple. The big leaves top right belong to the mulberry tree which fruited for the first time in 2020.

And so to the present. After much deliberation and angst, it has come to what you see below. The outlook is promising. The “chalk” stream is functioning well (Ranunculus is growing), and blackbirds and starlings have started to bathe again. The transported water plants in the pond appear to have survived, although the pond is now used so much by pigeons for their daily bath, there is much green algae growing due to the added feather-dust and poo nutrients. (Sadly, my 2021 big garden birdwatch only listed 2 blackbirds, 2 starlings, 2 wood pigeons, 2 ring-necked doves and 3 greenfinches, which have not been around for a couple of years or more.) I await the spring to see what flowers pop up, including the Pasqueflower whose seeds I will be planting on my little south-facing chalk hill which you can see in the next photograph left of centre with a large piece of chalk stone at the top! Because we are mostly clay-based soil, I have had to improvise a bit – but it is working.

Taken this morning (14 February – ooh, Valentine’s Day!). You can see to the left of the pond that the trunk of the cobnut tree is lying prostrate to provide nourishment for insect critters etc. The log lying in front of it is one of five which I purchased from a Norfolk farmer for £20 (we managed a few days away in the caravan in October 2020) and which are dotted about the garden and will soon be “old” wood which the insects love (I hope we get lesser stag beetles again which we had in the original garden under an old cherry stump (read the story here)…
…and our “bubbling” spring had a ring of beautiful ice shards this morning, where it rises miraculously from the ground.

I have quite a few packets of wild seed to sprinkle about, plus I purchased some wild flower plugs last year (some of which have survived!) and intend to plant them soon. Hopefully there will be an abundance of flowers like I had before. One can only hope!

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