Living with Wildlife

Not infrequently after looking at a plant or bird picture that we have shared here or on Facebook people ask if they can see our “wildlife” garden … not everyone lives close enough to book one of our guided tours so this is what (part of) it looks like on a cool and rainy Sunday in June. The famous Birds Lido is under the trees just to the right of the stone bench; the stumpery – full of fungi and rot and sheltering spaces – is in the back left out of sight under the larch. What passes for a lawn is, you can see, left pretty much to its own devices, much to the pleasure of insects, Robins and Song Sparrows.  There is a good third of the space that is invisible, and almost unreachable, behind the trees and shrubs where it is greatly appreciated by various critters who we leave to get on with their busy lives mostly undisturbed. When it is as wet as today there are also mosquitoes 😉

We have left small corners of the grassed area, one hesitates to call it a lawn, to grow shaggy in the past but this year have gone the whole hog and have restricted ourselves to only keeping the paths we walk on trimmed. There is a particularly pernicious “weed” by name of Creeping Charlie that has been taking over the sodded grass that was laid after the extension was built and the septic tank replaced three or four years ago. Also known as ground ivy it is a member of the mint family and, yes you guessed, came to this continent with early settlers and liked what it found. We are a no spray garden in a no spray town and this stuff is almost impossible to get rid of without drastic measures so we are learning to like it. If you keep mowing then you just see the small flat leaves out competing the grass but left to run wild it puts up sheets of the most beautiful blue flowers that all the bees, native, bumble and honey, seem to find very much to their liking. It flowers pretty much at the same time as dandelions and is infinitely nicer so it stays and the yellow peril is encouraged to go elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the front garden where we are supposed to have “kerb appeal” according to people who believe what real estate agents tell them, has entered its season of serious scruffiness. It has magnolia, rowan and birch trees as well as some young dogwoods and a juvenile viburnum but in spring is bright with daffodills and a host of small blue spring flowers. At the moment the forget-me-not carpet is fading.  All those plants, loved by neighbours, need to replenish resources in their roots and so we leave them to it which means until July heat dries the leaves up it is going to stay scruffy so that next year we can enjoy spring again.

Lastly the viburnum bushes are in full and glorious flower. Lovely complex flowers that will give big sprays of red berries to feed birds, sometimes right though into the winter snows.