… these are the things we have lost that insects, bees and butterflies crave as their winter locations, our slick modernity offers them nothing. No tree is allowed to weather and decay as nature intended, offering a multitude of opportunities for new insects and molds and organisms to appear on the altered now declining tree, a home for bats perhaps; a tree or at least some trees surely must be allowed to follow its natural cycle that can offer a new feast and home to so many living things. In the liability culture and ‘tidy’ malaise that seems to be taken up by everyone from municipal gardeners to householders all must be cut down, levelled and rendered sterile, all trees young, exemplified by the dreaded ‘rowan’ of municipal planting. Likewise our habitations and structures offer next to nothing for the tinier members of the natural world.
So what do I do to counter this ignorance of ecology, this ignorance of the living world? I allow things to decline and rot, I create jumbles of prunings in quiet areas of my garden, I stack same length cut limbs and branches from small trees say eighteen or twenty four inches long topped with roofing felt and a couple of bricks at many places at the perimeter of my garden. I allow bees to take over the various nest boxes if they so wish, which reminds me I’d better get another birdbox made and installed this weekend.
Each autumn I often can find say six nests dotted around this medium size semi-urban garden and also know each nest box generally produces two clutches a year; my garden is alive with the sound of garden songbirds, all it needs is common sense and to read a little to pick up the basics, all gardens should be like mine! But how many people nowadays enjoy the contents of an instructional or non-fiction book, especially kids, so much lost!
A great thrill a few years ago was seeing the queen bee fly in her flightless workers one by one piggy back into the commandeered dry and waterproof birdbox I’d made myself, theres lots of thing I make myself, its my particular mindset and approach to life, its the way I was brought up.
For bee and insect and butterfly overwintering I sometimes wrap up bundles of umbellifer stems with string and place them in unvisited parts of wherever. I specifically allow leaf litter to remain, essential for healthy worms and soil, the latter being much more complex and beautiful than most people realise, likewise the blackbird for instance craves to turn over a mature long established leaf layer. Daily I feed birds at my own garden and the location for my list below.
A location nearby which was once a pit heap wsaste ie spoil heap, then a waste infill site is now reclaimed and wooded and since moving here thirty years ago I’ve introduced two dozen native north British species over the last twenty years plus, at 7th May 2021, this is all done to help insects and therefore bird life.
- foxglove (wild collected seed)
- teasel (from an old pit site a mile away)
- common spotted orchid (from a nearby pit yard two miles away)
- round leaved orchid (from motorway services)
- avens (geum) from Beacon Hill (now being much over-exploited by greedy holiday lets)
- red campion (silene) from Wooler
- cowslip (from the motorway verge at the Seaham turn-off, relevant to my wife Christine)
- dog violet
- ragged robin
- cow parsley
- wild carrot
- milk parsley
- unwittingly … thatching reed
- yellow flag iris ( lots and as botanists say ‘successful’)
- common polypody (ie a common fern, at the stonework of the outfall, my wifes ashes etc)
- round leaved mint
- sweet chestnut from seed (failed, too much shade)
- wood sorrel (failed, I think doomed to failure anyway)
- goatsbeard … now gone due to overzealous cutting of verges, lets collect more seed this summer etc
- snowdrop seed five years ago and waiting
- blue whelted thistle
- knapweed (very useful for hoverflies)
- marsh marigold – latest addition May 2021 – I’m sure will thrive.
- enchanters nightshade
- my wifes ashes
So far a list of thirty items!
And I’m sure theres more but cannot recall; each of the above would be a deliberate effort with wild collected material. I shall try again with the round leaved mint, I know of a roadside location where I can obtain complete rooted material, its wonderful for bees, as is the glorious, valuable and much unappreciated knapweed. Likewise I need to get back over to the donor pit yard for the common spotted, ten years ago I had hundreds and now much dwindled to a couple of dozen. I would have thought the reclaimed / disturbed land would suit them.
All done by me and cost nowt …. no app no screen no signal !!! Its what my Dad would call ‘good with his hands’.
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