Monday 22 February 2021

The Woodland Floor Garden Project - February 2021 - update #2

I spent quite a bit of last week pottering around the garden again and making the most of my neighbours still having the fence men in.  They were uncovering a nice row of slabs that went most of the way up the new fence side of the garden and I asked Ian and George if I could possibly have them. They were more than happy for them to be re-cycled so swiftly and the lad doing the fence even passed them over for me which was a great help.  


As such I continued with my path back down the garden to the decking and added a few into the new gap by Bed #3 towards the fence.  I then dug over the last piece behind the cinder block shelter thus creating Bed #4 and used the last remaining section of the old Chestnut palisade fencing to frame it.  The rest of the slabs will gup up the garden once the old greenhouse comes down.

It was whilst digging this area that I unearthed a cache of old rubber dog toys that Jinx had studiously buried during her ten years using the garden! Where the eight years have gone since she died I do not know.  I hung two of the rings on the last piece of fence that I put in and smiled.

Jinx - Christmas Day 2006 - my only in the garden pic of her

I still had a few clumps of Celandine to put in and another (with permission!) raid next door saw me liberate another 30 Primroses from the ‘lawn’ along with what I think are a couple of different Composites, possibly Hawkweeds and a nice bit of native Honeysuckle.  Three old metal saucepans were also sunk into Bed #4 to continue the pondlet theme.
You can't have too many pondlets

And speaking of which, I discovered rafts of Springtails on three of them, drifting around with the breeze.  There seemed to be adults and two different nymph stages but have failed miserably to get anywhere with the identification.  I am not sure that they intended to be on the water so I dropped a leaf into each to aid escape if need be.

Springtails - the adults are quite big 

There were a few small flies around but nothing I could get to grips with but I did see a fine Queen Common Wasp who I disturbed while clearing the rubbish stash from the area opposite the greenhouse and a plump Queen Buff-tailed Bumblebee cruised around looking for blooms.

A quick pop out to a local garden centre saw a profusion of Honey Bees around the Hellebores and amongst them a lone female Eristalis tenax to become my second Hoverfly of the year.  My Hybrid Hellebores really did not fare well with the snow cover and the few blooms I had have withered away. Hopefully there is time for more to emerge.   
Eristalis tenax

I bought some more small native Ferns and a clump of Snake’s Head Fritillaries for the meadow lawn.  While planting them later that afternoon I discovered what I am sure is an Orchid rosette poking through - there may even be two.  I have never had any wild orchids in my garden before although I did have a pot of some spot leaved Mediterranean species that I was given years ago but this is unspotted and looks like it may be a Bee Orchid.  I will keep you posted! At least I do not have Rabbits to nibble on it!  I found Pyramidal growing in the un-mown grass in my road during the first Lockdown but only one Bee Orchid which I checked up on the other day in Crutches Lane.

A saw a single sulphurous male Brimstone while out on that foray and a zooming Peacock back home in the warm Sunday sunshine.  Despite all that garden time there was nothing ornithological to note bar my constant Robin companions and a single flyover Meadow Pipit!
The Common Frogs were getting frisky in the pond but I really need some more pond weed to encourage the Smooth Newts and there was such a healthy population of Ramshorn Snails in the old tin bath pond that I transferred some to the pondlets. I even managed to find enough bits of old cane and Marsh Sow Thistle Stems to create some tubes to go into my hanging china cup bee homes.
Common Frog

An almost dark drive out on the Cliffe, Cooling, Halstow circuit did not produce any Woodcock (I had one last week) but there were several calling Little Owls around Cooling church and I could hear Mallard, Teal and Coots on a hidden pond while a big dog Fox trotted across a field.  The church was tastefully lit up and worth a stop in its own right.

I pottered out for a seven mile circuit of Ranscombe and Cobham this morning which was grey but calm.  It was not as warm as recent days and there had not been much progression in the woodland floor flora since before the snow although there were a few Primroses out.  I was hoping for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker but failed again but was quite happy to encounter the other two species along with several singing Treecreepers and Nuthatches and my fourth pair of Marsh Tits within this woodland block while a hooting male Tawny Owl was only my second walk encounter and probably not very far from where I had the June fledgling. 
My favourite find was a large piece of old Honeycomb at the base of a Beech tree around which there were lots of fresh Badger diggings so perhaps one of them had unearthed an old subterranean nest from last year although I have not seen such a nest entrance before, only in tree cavities quite high up. 

I pottered around the garden this afternoon hoping for a drifting Red Kite and listening to my frenetic Goldcrests singing form the Firs and made a triangular hurdle to go around the odd Raspberry canes and where my Stinging Nettles will emerge.  It is all coming together quite nicely I think.

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