Change the World by changing your Garden.

Secrets of an English Garden Week 6

Great Spotted Woodpecker, Male

To passer’s by my garden, compared to my neighbour’s may look a little unkempt. A bit untidy round the edges with Autumn’s leaves still around the borders. Perennial growth from last year still defying the snow in architectural edifices of dead stems. Moss and Lichens proliferate on the millstone grit rocks.

Forests of tiny fruiting bodies clothe the moss covered boundary rocks.

The prunings from last year peak out from under the trees and shrubs never having made it to the green recycling system to be sold back to me as compost. They provide shelter for hedgehogs and solitary bees.

Other gardens stand with bare soil, ready to accept a regular recipe of begonias, pelargoniums and French Marigolds. In larger borders, bulbs, roses and shrubs await the real start of spring, sitting in neat and tidy chips to hold back the weeds.

Purple Crocus in the lawn edges.

My garden won’t win any accolades.

But my garden is loved. Loved by the ever increasing variety of species that are calling it home. This week, 2 new species started to call it just that.

The start of the week fooled us with a brief interlude of spring like weather before the Arctic chill returned to blanket the area with snow and cause chaos for the city and it’s environs. We English are just so unprepared for coping with these conditions.

It brought some new visitors to the garden, emboldened by a will to survive.

The first was this Kestrel which took up residence on the Holly tree, watching out over the white landscape for any sign of movement, a mouse or a vole perhaps, feathers fluffed up against the biting North wind.

Common Kestrel, the first Bird of Prey spotted in the garden.

The second was this beautiful Song Thrush, whose delightful trills alerted us to it’s presence long before we saw it. It differs from the Mistle Thrush of last week in that it’s markings are little arrow heads instead of blobs and it’s back is a deeper brown rather than grey brown. The thrush family will be welcome to keep the slug and snail population under control in the spring.

A Song Thrush visits the feeding station.

The instantly recognisable Robins were ever present all day, brightening up the garden with their scarlet bibs and jolly antics.

Scarlet bibbed Robin keeping a wary eye out for trouble.

Even the elderly fox visited in broad daylight, driven by hunger and cold to hide in the evergreen shrubs at the base of the house, waiting for the left overs from the fat balls. He got treated to some left overs of our own.

The middle of the day, this fox should be holed up and keeping warm.

Grey squirrels visit the garden too. They are nowhere to be seen when there is snow on the ground, but were in evidence earlier in the week looking slightly soggy in the wet weather.

Damp but determined, grey squirrel.

City gardens can be little oases for our natural wildlife, but not if they are the green deserts we call perfect lawns or covered in weed suppressant chippings.

It’s possible to work with nature and not against her to create a space that works for a whole host of species instead of just one.

It’s easy to think that it doesn’t matter, that we can manage without the wild things, but just look at the case for insects. Insects are the main pollinators for all our crops. Without insects, there is no pollination, without pollination there is no food for us or our animal livestock. Bee numbers in particular have been decimated giving widespread concern. Who knows what other imbalances await us if we don’t maximise the number of native species in our habitats.

So yes, we can change the world with our little gardens. We can help maintain a natural balance and at the same time bring a little joy to our own lives by discovering the secrets of our domains. Maybe start by letting the wildflowers grow in your lawn — just mow less often and leave an area without mowing till later in the year.

Photo by Janice Gill on Unsplash

Week 5 of this series can be found HERE at the end of which are links to the previous four instalments.

For helpful articles on photography including photographing the wildlife in your garden with ease, take a look HERE

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If you’d like to help me carry on with all these articles, the cost of a couple of cups of tea will get you a full resolution download of your favourite photograph. Just send me a message or visit my website at www.jangill.com

Thanks for reading :-)

Award winning Artist and Photographer still learning and evolving. Blogging the journey.

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