Tag Archives: snowdrops

How to attract insects to shady corners of your garden

One of my wildlife garden priorities this year was to make the garden more insect friendly by providing more food sources. This means more flowers, blooming for a larger proportion of the year. Our garden is small, so squeezing more flowers in requires some innovation.

There’s a strip of my garden that had no value for wildlife. A narrow passage 3-4m long, it runs between the fence and the wall of our extension. It’s almost completely in the shade, and is mostly decked, with an even narrower strip of gravel. How could I make this more wildlife friendly, short of knocking down the extension and landscaping it?

While most flowers need some direct sunshine to thrive, there are some that are used to deep shade – mostly flowers you’d find in woodland. A planter full of shade loving plants was the answer.

Identifying which flowers to go for took some time. I decided that I wanted shade-dwelling wildflowers that are native to Britain, good for pollinators, and between them bloomed for a large proportion of the year. I also wanted a variety of colours and flower shapes, as different pollinators are attracted to different flowers. They also needed to be quite compact, as I didn’t have much space.

I worked my way through the list suggested in the Surrey Wildlife Trust Wildlife Gardening Guide I got as part of my prize. I compiled a shortlist that fulfilled my criteria (and that I could buy seeds or plugs from a reputable wildflower supplier). From that, I picked 5 species that would hopefully ensure nectar between February and October once the bed was established, and placed my order. The species I chose were:

  • Snowdrops
  • Primroses
  • Foxglove
  • Common dog violet
  • Wood forget-me-not

To hold the plants, I chose a micro manger from Harrod Horticultural, as it fitted the space, and I have been pleased with the quality of the raised bed we bought from them years ago. It was quite straightforward to put together, with the aid of Dr C and an electric screwdriver.

image

The primroses and snowdrops I ordered as plants; plugs in the case of primroses, as their seeds need the cold of winter to germinate, and I am impatient, and snowdrops in the green, as they don’t do well if moved once their leaves have died off. The rest I ordered as seeds, which I will plant once I have built my new mini greenhouse.

The plants turned up early last week, so I have planted the snowdrops in the planter (and in the lawn and the meadow – there were lots of them!) and potted the primrose plugs into small pots to grow on a bit. The snowdrops have already flowered for the year before they arrived, so I won’t get to see the results until next year.

Snowdrops in the green planted in a shady bit of the lawn
Snowdrops in the green planted in a shady bit of the lawn
Primrose plug plants potted on into small pots
Primrose plug plants potted on into small pots

At the moment the planter is pretty empty (although not as empty as in the photo of it above!). Tempting as it was to fill it with snowdrops, I had to leave space for the other flowers that will hopefully germinate in a month or two. It’s still a work in progress, but hopefully by next year it will turn a dark, neglected corner of the garden into a useful pitstop for insects, as well as brightening the place up.

Advertisements

February 2015 Riversearch

My December Riversearch was uneventful, with little to report. And not much has changed since then. No news is perhaps a good thing – there weren’t any obvious signs of pollution or invasive species (although invasive plants mostly won’t be obvious at this time of year, and I didn’t search for signal crayfish or quagga mussels). And while the river level was quite high (the stepping stones were well covered), it wasn’t flooded.

The River Mole in February
The River Mole in February
Can you spot the stepping stones?
Can you spot the stepping stones?

There were some signs of spring, with a few clumps of snowdrops scattered around, and wild garlic leaves appearing. Bird song filled the air, but the trees are still bare.

Signs of spring - snowdrops
Signs of spring – snowdrops
Signs of spring - catkins
Signs of spring – catkins
Signs of spring - wild garlic leaves
Signs of spring – wild garlic leaves

Given there was so little to report, it’s a bit hard to motivate myself to get round to returning the data. But, even this unexciting result is important to monitoring the health of the River Mole. So I really should send the results back in. And I will. Sometime. Maybe next weekend.

Riversearch has been going for around 18 months now, and they’ve refined the forms we use, to make the paperwork quicker and easier once you’ve done the initial search. (The basic info about a stretch of river doesn’t change that much from month to month – bridges tend not to be too temporary, and land use change is not that rapid).

One of the new things they ask for now is information about the wildlife we see along the way. Now, this is much more to my taste (and skills) than describing the geography of the rivers – rills, bars etc. So, I was pleased to come across some deer prints in the wood by the river. The prints were very small (perhaps muntjac or a small female of a larger type of deer). So, while I don’t have anything exciting to report about the river, at least I can submit the deer print photos, to be added to the county database.

Deer (muntjac?) print
Deer (muntjac?) print