Six on Saturday 7th September

I thought I should check in with a Six this week because we’re on holiday for the next two Saturdays so I most likely won’t get chance to do one, and then we’re rapidly approaching October which means fewer trips out of the back door and less exciting developments au jardin when I do brave the cold and dark.

I’ve been out there for half of today trying to tidy up and prepare for the colder months, so I took a few snaps that I thought you guys might like to see. Be warned though, random they definitely are, eclectic you might say since they all came from our garden, but that is the extent of their coherence.

Number one is an early birthday present from my in laws.

They’ve discovered somewhere that makes these in all sorts of different animal forms. I chose a kingfisher because I like the colours. I attached it to the fence in the middle of our garden today. It’s next to my raised beds so I’m hoping it might scare the birds away from my fruit and veg next year.

Speaking of fruit and veg, number two is potatoes. I finally got round to emptying my wheelbarrow which was full of the compost from the potato bags which I harvested earlier in the Summer. When I tipped it out I discovered that I’d missed some.

I assume it’s still ok to eat these. They look fine now I’ve cleaned them up, although I have no idea which of the three varieties which I grew that they are. I grew Maris Peers, Charlotte and another variety which escapes my memory for now!

I also planted more Charlottes today. I got them a few weeks ago but have only just got around to planting them, so they’ve chitted quite a lot so I hope they’ll still grow. They’re supposed to be ready in time for our Christmas lunch!

Moving on to number three, and following on from my garden wildlife post last week – cobwebs!

For some reason I ended up behind the greenhouse and the sun was shining right down the garden and was making the cobwebs twinkle.

It’s normally really difficult to get decent snaps of cobwebs, and these are still not great, but I was pleasantly surprised with how well they showed up in these with the sun highlighting them. I didn’t see the occupant of the webs. The poor spider is much maligned, but if I was one I think I’d still feel superior, I mean, can you spin your house and do your food shopping all out of your bottom? Nope, me neither!

Back to the home produce for number four. There’s not much left growing now but I do have these still to come.

I think they’re leeks, but it’s possible there might be a red onion in there. My lolly stick labels got bleached by the sun so I can’t see what I sowed in this particular line. If they are indeed leeks, then they’re supposed to be ready to harvest next month, which looks unlikely to my novice eyes! Everything seemed to either take longer to mature than the packets said, or didn’t grow at all so maybe they’ll be ready next Summer!

Number five is something I’ve been trying to identify for over a year, so far to no avail. I picked it up on a sale table in B&M Bargains for £1.50.

Not the best picture of it, but you can see the shape of the leaves. A couple of people have suggested it might be a Cotoneaster, but I’ve now had it over a year and it hasn’t produced any berries. I actually feel quite attached to it, despite not being on first name terms with it. It very loyally hung around in its pot whilst I tried to determine what it was so I knew whereabouts to plant it, and since I took the plunge and planted it out (still not having a clue how big it would get) it seems to very stoically deal with being surrounded by fallen leaves and living behind the raised beds receiving minimal attention. It looks healthy and it’s definitely grown so, even if it retains its John Doe status, it’s more than welcome in my garden.

Number six is one that I was waiting for completion to post, but now I’m concerned that completion might happen while we’re on holiday, so I’m posting now so it doesn’t miss out.

Sunflowers!

I’ve nurtured these since I sowed them in April! I sowed eleven seeds, ten of them germinated and were planted out back at the beginning of the Summer and since then they’ve got slowly picked off (by what means I don’t know!) so I’m left with these two.

The smaller one that has flowered is just under six feet tall. Its flower is a little raggedy Anne but I love it nonetheless because it’s the first Sunflower I’ve ever grown and it looks ever so cheerful out of our back window.

You can see the seeds starting to form in there.

The big ‘un is over seven feet tall! I was standing under it to take this photo and this is my view (I’m five foot four). We’ve had to tie it to the Sweet Pea wigwam to keep it standing because it’s so tall. You can see the bud forming up there, but we go on holiday in less than a week and I think we’re going to miss it opening. My Dad’s cat sitting so I’ve asked him to take a photo if it flowers while we’re away. I definitely think there’s some kind of time delay in our garden – everyone else’s Sunflowers flowered week’s ago. My theory is not enough sun due to next door’s forest!

There we are, I thought I might have to start up a Six on Sunday blogalong for a minute but I’ve made it. Check out the Propagator’s blog for more Sixes.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend lovely people.

Garden Wildlife

Happy Saturday all. September tomorrow. I’m not sad about the end of Summer, not yet anyway. I still have a holiday to come so it doesn’t feel like it’s over. Plus, I quite like Autumn. Now come the end of Autumn, then I will be in mourning because I am not a Winter person.

Today I’m focusing on the animals in our garden, from the tiny insects up to the bigger visitors. I’ve been snapping photos all Summer with this post in mind. I’ve got so many now that I’m not sure how to narrow them down, but narrow I will. I’ve can’t tell you how many seconds, minutes and possibly hours I’ve spent, camera poised trying to get the perfect photo and ending up with blurry wings or a hastily departed flower!

I’ll start with the traditionally less pleasant critters that I’ve spotted throughout the last couple of months.

For the arachnophobes amongst you, feel free to scroll past the next section (or peek at it from behind a cushion). I’ll put a row of hearts when it’s safe to look again and I promise to move on to more cuddly creatures soon, but right now, SPIDERS!

I used to count myself as an arachnophobe, indeed, my Mum, who witnessed my screams throughout adolescence, bought me this which now proudly hangs in my shed.

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I have found though, since my gardening adventure really kicked in with a vengeance, that’s there’s really no place in gardening for irrational fears of anything creepy crawly. You’re in their domain, not the other way round, and they just get on with their thing. They really are more scared of you than you could ever be of them (as I found out when stalking them, camera in hand!) The beast above was stomping past my pots at the side of the house. I tried to get a better photo, but he disappeared next door (bet they were really grateful!)

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Next up slugs and snails.

This snail was really quite pretty. It may have chobbled on my strawberries, which is unfortunate, but I liked it.

These ones were a lot bigger and not so attractive. The first I discovered in my potato bag and the second was hiding behind my Diascia Cherry Blossom.

Slugs decimated my strawberries this year! I assume it was slugs anyway, given the evidence above! The second one is on my somewhat raggedy Dahlia. Given the rain over the last couple of days, there are some humongous slugs slurping their way around the garden at the moment, but they’re icky so I couldn’t bring myself to take photos.

On to beetles and beetley type things.

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I can’t remember where I snapped this one, and I can’t work it out from the background. Quite an impressive looking beetle.

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This one was very well camouflaged on my petit pois. A quick google of ‘green beetles’ doesn’t bring up anything that looks like this, so I don’t know what it is.

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These are Lily Beetles and it’s such a shame they’re such a pretty colour because they’re destructive! I tried picking them off, but they don’t get the hint so I had to resort to chemical means. I made sure not to spray them once the buds appeared though because that would kill any pollinators that gathered their pollen.

Ladybirds. When I first saw the lily beetles I thought they were ladybirds, but they are sans spots. These are definitely ladybirds. Ladybirds really remind me of being a child. Surely it’s some kind of rite of passage to have a ladybird wee on your hand (although it’s not really wee, it’s some kind of toxic ‘back off’ fluid!)

Now for some random flying things.

Lots of flying things in our garden, including more than our fair share of mosquitoes! No photos of those because they either get squished immediately or they get away! I’ve lost count of the number of bites I’ve had this Summer – most of them through my clothes! Yep, these supersonic mozzies can chomp on you even through jeans!

Quite impressed with these two pics, although it does feel as though we should avert our eyes from the first pair, because I’m sure they really should’ve ‘got a room!’

I tried really hard to attract butterflies to the garden. I planted a Buddleia and I hung up bananas but it didn’t do any good and I saw very few butterflies all Summer.

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I actually saw this one land when I was in the kitchen and ran out with my phone to take a photo. Luckily it stayed there long enough. Would you believe it, in the two seconds I was in the garden I managed to miss the Amazon man knocking on the front door and had to chase him down the street!

This is slightly cheating since I didn’t take the picture in the garden, but it’s too pretty not to include.

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I saw it at the garden centre. Isn’t it lovely?

Finally for the insect/arachnid section, I have LOTS of bee (and other stripy insects) photos, all of which were taken in the garden.

I’m going to finish with the best photos that we’ve captured on the garden camera since the last post.

We’ve tried to plant even more wildlife attracting plants this year, and I’ve also been a lot less ruthless with pulling up wild flowers and/or weeds and I love all the animals that are choosing to roam round our outside space.

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at all our lovely animals and sorry if the spiders disturbed anyone.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

 

All about the animals

This week has had a distinctly animal theme, even more so than my normal weeks!

First up I have to mention that it was International Cat Day on Thursday. I remember celebrating this last year while my blog was in its infancy. I didn’t have time on the day this year to do a blog post (because we had a very nice man from Hillaries round to price up some blinds for the bay window in our living room) but I posted this picture on Instagram in recognition.

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The main picture is one of my favourites of our girls. I love how they’re cuddled up together on my Eeyore teddy but both looking round to have their photo taken. Aren’t they beautiful? The kitten picture was taken in the first week that they lived with us and they were already completely settled in (and we were already utterly in love with them). They were eight and a half weeks old here. They were completely fearless as kittens – that didn’t last! These days Tink seeks refuge in the corner of our living room as soon as anyone dares to touch the hoover and Olive makes short work of the stairs in pursuit of safety under our bed whenever anyone knocks on our door!

I’m going to jump back two days now to Tuesday morning. Anyone who follows me on Instagram or Facebook (or pretty much anyone with whom I’ve come into contact this week) will have already heard or read about my hedgehog drama.

I was later than usual leaving the house on Tuesday morning for reasons involving a key, my car bonnet and some chavvy-scumbag-waste of oxygen (that’s the more polite version of the moniker I was using for much of this week!) I don’t know what made me decide to pop down to the greenhouse to check on my tomato plants, but I did and I’m thankful to the God of luck or hedgehogs or fate or whatever it may have been.

As I approached the greenhouse I gasped because there was a hedgehog sitting looking at me. I was so happy for a millisecond as I snapped a photo to see a hedgehog, but almost immediately thought, why aren’t you running away from me? It was moving so I knew it was alive.

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Then I realised it had got trapped in the netting round our strawberry raised bed. Oh no, no, no! I started running around in a similar way to Rabbit when he realises Pooh Bear is a wedged bear in much tightness, and in his front door, no less! I got scissors from the greenhouse and started gently trying to free him.

The netting came away reasonably easily from his back as I carefully snipped away, but as soon as I’d freed him slightly he must’ve got some room to move and he adopted typical ‘I’m a scared hedgehog’ pose and curled up into a ball. I went and put gloves on at this point because I needed to pick him up to detangle the netting from his little feet. I was so scared I was going to hurt him, so I really lightly tugged at the little bit of netting that was left but it came off without having to apply any force.

I put him back down and ran back to the house and got some water and hedgehog food that I was given in my goodie bag from Gardeners’ World Live. I had no idea how long he’d been there so I didn’t know if he’d be hungry and/or thirsty. I sat back and tried to be completely silent so he’d think I’d gone, to see if he uncurled and tried some food or ran away, but he didn’t. I think the poor thing was just petrified after his ordeal.

It was approaching time for me to leave, and I had no idea if he was injured at all, so I decided I’d take him to the vet. If he stayed there curled up all day I didn’t know if a fox or cat or even a squirrel or bird might attack him. I already felt guilty enough for not having been careful enough with the netting in the first place to let this happen, I didn’t want a hedgehog massacre on my conscience too.

Luckily we’ve been somewhat remiss with keeping on top of taking our bigger recycling to the tip, so I had a box in the kitchen.

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I scooped him up and threw in a few hedgehog snacks just in case and trundled up to the vet. I didn’t go to our normal vets because it’s further away and I didn’t want him to be stressed out any longer than necessary. I think he’s upside down in the picture. Poor thing.

I rang the vet later in the day and he’d been walking around and eating. Phew! I offered to collect him and release him back in our garden (now the netting has been safely removed) but they said he’ll go to a hedgehog sanctuary to be monitored for a couple of days and will then be released again. Let’s hope by now he’s happily snuffling around someone else’s garden.

I was a bit concerned in case he was a she, and there are babies around somewhere wondering where their mum’s gone. It seems, according to the oracle that is google, that hoglets are reasonably self sufficient pretty soon after birth so hopefully all is ok. I decided to invest in a camera to install near where I found the hedgehog just to see what might be wondering through and around our garden.

I found this one on Amazon for a pretty good price.

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How irritating! It’s now on a lightening deal reduced by £7.51! Oh well, we wouldn’t have the last two nights’ photos if I hadn’t bought it full price.

I made the mistake of sitting on the swing chair straight after fitting it to the raised bed so we got some pictures of me!

Me in relaxed mode, me in deep social media concentration mode and me joined by the man of the house!

We did however get some pretty decent animal pics. There were several pigeons.

We even got the elusive Jay.

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Not the best of photos but better than anything I’ve managed to get thus far because Jays don’t seem to be as brave as pigeons and magpies. The camera’s set to 5mp so I think I’ll change to the maximum 12mp to try and get some better images.

By the way, have you spotted the deliberate error? I’ve changed the time settings now!

We had a feline visitor. This is a new cat to the area. There are actually two of them, both black and white – siblings I’m guessing – but I think this is just one of them.

We almost got the perfect close up …

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… but only almost!

I’ve saved the best for last.

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What a handsome young fellow!

I’m amazed that we didn’t capture any squirrels because there’s pretty much always one there when you look out. I guess they spend a lot of their time on fences and up higher.

We did manage to catch the Greater Spotted Green Girl Gardener!

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It’s impossible not to get snapped when you go to retrieve the memory card!

Right, I’m off to put the prawn crackers that came with our Chinese tonight up there in the hopes of enticing some wildlife. A bowl of water might be a good idea too. I really want to snap another hedgehog or even a badger. That would be amazing!

Enjoy the rest of the weekend folks.