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An Essex Wildlife Garden Update!

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GemmaJF View Drop Down
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    Posted: 10 Aug 2017 at 6:08pm
I think the last I posted of the wildlife garden was the construction of the clay pond. It looked a bit like a building site so an update now nature is back in charge Smile

The pond renovation was documented here:


The wildlife garden as it is today:


Clay pond nicely topped up after heavy rain. The only introduced plants that were successful were the yellow flag iris and pond lily. Just as well they are my two favourites. Both are contained in planters so they do not take over completely. As you can see we have plenty of ivy leaved and ordinary duckweed, not much we can do being next to an arable field regarding nutrients getting in there but it does not seem to bother the smooth newts and frogs:



Purple Loosestrife is now mostly gone to seed, each year it self seeds and gets a little more established and attracts plenty of bees. New Tit box was put up last autumn and attracted interest straight away, two successful broods this year:




Hawthorn hedge now I think in its third year. Still keeping it fairly formal but the plan is to let it go a bit wilder on our side when it matures to provide berries for the birds:





This was a recent addition a pile of blackthorn logs. We had some blackthorn that nobody took responsibility for at the front of the property. It had got ridiculously leggy and top heavy so was getting blown over in the wind. After much negotiation with the village council (involving debating that a plant that is actually classed a shrub is not subject to the blanket TPOs locally)  it was agreed I could rejuvenate the blackthorn back to a formal hedge (with benefits for wildlife Wink). This provided me with new mini logs!




The adjacent bug hotel has largely been ignored by bugs. I have some hope that as the hedge establishes it might get used more. One of those, oh well I gave it a go but it was not really anywhere near as successful at attracting bugs as this.. ...good old fashioned compost heap (read as grass snake egg incubator/slow worm habit):





Now looking quite degraded, one of the five willow log piles, I want to add fresh logs in the next year or so. This is the absolute vision of what I think of when I think 'reptile habitat':




And the proof it really is reptile habitat, one of this years new-born lizards on Onduline, just the other side of the log pile shown above:



Was it worth the toil and effort of the clay pond that took several years to actually do? Of course! Big smile


Edited by GemmaJF - 10 Aug 2017 at 6:30pm
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Tom Omlette View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tom Omlette Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Aug 2017 at 6:25pm
looks fantastic gemma, great effort!!! Clap

tom

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GemmaJF View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Aug 2017 at 6:50pm
Thanks Tim!

One more for today, just popped out to cover the compost heap and spotted this lot catching the last rays of sun that reach the garden in the evening. 3 generations, 2 adults, a subby and couple of juveniles Smile


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Iowarth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Aug 2017 at 7:03pm
Wonderful job Gemma - and definitely well worth while!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote chubsta Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Aug 2017 at 7:37pm
I absolutely love the look of that pond, I hope you will take it as a complement when i say it doesn't look cultivated at all, I guess it must take a surprising amount of work to ensure that the garden doesn't go completely wild, it must have a tendency to sprout everywhere when the weather conditions are right!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Aug 2017 at 11:57am
Thanks Chris.

Thanks chubsta, the non-cultivated look is certainly a compliment Smile

Management isn't so bad. I keep a path open to the compost heap which means mowing it once a week. The rest is just left to do its thing all summer.

In October I drop most of the vegetation, leaving some of the seed heads for bugs, but most comes down and goes on the compost. This opens the whole lot up so the lizards benefit from more light reaching the ground towards the end of the season and also the following spring. It makes it a lot tidier over the winter months too, the dead vegetation if left would look a bit grim.

Pond weed is thinned in the Autumn

The only other management is a Crack willow we have growing in there. Every couple of years I coppice it to provide material to top off the log piles. So it is mostly self sustaining, just with the addition of grass clippings from the rest of the garden to the compost heap and some hedge trimmings which I chip and add to the compost too.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Aug 2017 at 12:46pm
Picture of the Crack willow, this is one years growth after coppicing last autumn. Another year and there will be nice straight branches to harvest as brash for the log piles. Been toying for several years with using it to make a small section of dead hedging, never seem to get around to doing it though, maybe next  year!




You can just see the bench we sit on bottom left of the picture, many hours spent totally relaxed and just watching the animals, much better than the telly Smile


Edited by GemmaJF - 11 Aug 2017 at 12:47pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Liz Heard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Aug 2017 at 11:09am

Whoa! That's my kind of garden (though unfortunately not my partner's - we argue!). Well done Gemma.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Aug 2017 at 12:46pm
Fortunately for me  Mervyn is like minded and he spends more time sat up there than I do! I get reports each day on how many lizards, frogs, dragonflies and new lily flowers he has spotted. The only thing he is not keen on is the grass snakes, but I still get a shout if he sees one Wink
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Suzi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Aug 2017 at 1:09pm
Great to see your garden Gemma. The pond looks like it's been there for ever, yet I remember its creation. 
Suz
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