Gardening Photos Wildlife

A rockery to attract wildlife photo opportunities

Rockery garden plants have three common characteristics;

Rockery plants need soil which is both water and air permeable. Rockery plants do not thrive in water logged conditions, e.g. in clay rich soils -If you are to grow rockery plants in clay soils then you must ensure that it is well drained This can only be achieved by using compost With that said you will then attract wildlife and get plenty of photo opportunities.

There are basically two groups of rockery plants;

Plants for dry positions with plenty of sun

Plants for shady positions with moist soils and high humidity.

These two groups can be combined together in large rockeries. Large rocks, artificially designed hollows and sunken paths will provide shay spots that can be planted with varieties that prefer cool positions. A rockery with water will be very humid while beds edged with bushes or trees are not ideal for rockery plants because of the shade and dry conditions.


Wildlife In A Rockery

Many creatures colonise a perfectly balanced rockery. The ecological equilibrium will be determined by the conditions of the position, and by the presence of suitable plants and rocks. Rockeries, garden ponds and drystone can all develop into balanced biotypes that can support wildlife. Creatures such as slow worms or lizards, frogs and toads will colonize damp hollows and beside pools of water. Birds may build their nests on cushion plants and spaces between rocks or stones. Shrews look for shelter and food in the rockery and build their homes there.


Planning a rockery

Careful planning is necessary if you want rockery garden to captivate the eyes off passers by. You will need to design the landscape, prepare the soil and select the right position.


Landscape design

You can use the soil that is excavated when a house is being built or landscape modelling. Soil that is left after digging out a pond is ideal for creating a rockery.


Choice of position

You must select an ideal position to prepare the soil. You must scrutinise all areas in your garden, paying particular attention to sloping positions as they are an ideal terrain for rockery design. Level areas close to a garden or patio are also suitable for rockery plants.


Soil preparation

Soil preparation is essential if you are going to have a beautiful rockery. Determine the soil structure by using your hand. Sand soil sifts easily through the fingers, loamy soil stick while the clay soils are normally very hard and lumpy.

You can use a tester kit to determine the numeral content of the soil or alternatively you can send your garden soil to a specialist who can test it for you, although this may cost you.

Soil that has high lime content is most suitable for rockery plants. The lime factor determines the pH factor of the soils. Remove all weeds from the soil before you plant the rockery plants and ensure that the soil is well drained.

If the soil is too compacted then there is a great need to install a drainage layer. The garden compost and a small quantity of hoof and horn help to improve the quality of the soil.

Gardening Wildlife

Keep the garden in tip top condition for wildlife in summer

It may be dry, but it has hardly been warm and I am still lighting my fire in the evening to keep the chill off the old bones (having switched the central heating off at the beginning of May. Gardening as a result has been a bit of a chore at times however there is plenty to do.

However the recent forecast seems to suggest that you will not need to fill up the thermos for a cuppa in the garden to keep you going. The dry spell (well in Jersey) has meant that weeds have not been romping away like they usually do at this time of the year so weeding should be relatively easy (relatively speaking). The other plus is that the wisteria has been magnificent, the alliums are just coming into flower, the clematis are sparkling and there is good set on the fruit trees. I will be keeping a close eye on the kiwi which shows flower buds for a long time before they actually burst. Despite the fact that it is supposed to be a self fertile variety it did a remarkably good job of not fruiting at all last year (so any of you with the variety Jenny, HELP!).

With the continued dry spell and with the drying north easterly winds pots, hanging baskets newly planted bits and pieces will all dry out pretty quickly so please check regularly. Remember if you water it is best to do it in the evening so that it has chance to soak into the soil, compost etc before evaporating.

If you fancy a hanging basket you can use summer bedding plants, especially trailing ones to create a stunning effect relatively simply. If you are stuck for ideas there are plenty of “how to” guides but remember to mix water retaining gel in to the compost. This prevents the baskets drying out too quickly which is the usual problem.

I mentioned summer bedding earlier re hanging baskets plant collection, now is the time for hardening off bedding plants raised under glass and plant these once done. Water in well and give them a little fertiliser but not too much nitrogen.

Following my smug feeling last year when my efforts at protecting my nectarine and peach trees from the rain worked really well, this year has not been so effective and though I have had good fruit set (see earlier comments) I have had to remove quite a few leaves infected with peach leaf curl. If this isn’t sorted by next year, out they come and in goes resistant varieties, or a fan trained plum/apple/pear.

One thing about gardening, the constant cycle of nature, means that you know or can anticipate what is coming next. So that is a wonderful introduction for me to be able to repeat a bit of advice for you wildlife enthusiasts. Biennial flowers such as evening primrose, foxglove, great mullein, honesty, sweet rocket, angelica, teasel and wallflower are all valuable for wildlife. Night-scented plants for moths such as evening primrose, sweet rocket, jasmine and honeysuckle.

Don’t forget it is easy to grow plants from plug plants, these are already rooted, so give it a go and you will be pleasantly surprised with the results.

I will leave you with an observation, do you remember weathermen talking about barbecue summers, they have been awfully quiet this year, or have I missed their predictions.

Hopefully we’ll have some warmer weather soon (ash clouds permitting of course).


Summer weather going down in July but you still have the wildlife to think about

Wow, we have had some proper summer weather, mind you things seem to be going down hill at the time of writing (mid July). However some things do not change we still have not had a representative in a Wimbledon final and the English cricket team narrowly avoided another defeat at the hands of the old enemy.

One of the main tasks this month will be to keep on top of the watering, assuming that the recent downpours do not persist. To enable the water to soak in the best time to carry out the practice will be early morning or in the evening before the day gets too hot. You can always check by digging down and looking; the soil should be moist to down to about 3-4 inches. Just squeeze some in your hand and if it holds together it is moist enough. There are a number of ways, hose pipe, watering can, sprinklers but one of the more environmentally friendly ways is to use either seep hose or spaghetti irrigation which will deliver small amounts keeping the plants moist, ok the soil moist.

Your garden should be full of leaf and flower and to keep it that way you should be prepared to deadhead so that you will get a second flush, though you shouldn’t cut down ornamental grasses as these will provide winter interest.

The downside of all of this is that the warmth and wet will encourage weeds so weed control becomes a high priority otherwise they will produce more seeds to continue to haunt you. Remember one year’s seeding is several years weeding. Therefore instead of putting your feet up and relaxing you ought to be out there with a hoe, or perhaps not (weeds will benefit the wildlife in your garden, good excuse?).

Now is the time to plant out winter flowering pansies but make sure that the soil is in good heart and if in doubt a touch of soil improver or organic manure will ensure that plants establish well.

This is also the time of year to order spring flowering bulbs, especially daffodils which can be planted from now on right up until December (Ok they wont be as good as the earlier planted ones but will survive) My favourites are the dwarf ones such as Hawera, tete a tete, minnow etc. But do not forget other bulbous species such as amaryllis, belladonna, bluebells, chionodoxa, colchicum, erythronium, fritillaria, leucojum, scilla sibirice, snowdrops etc.

The dry weather will have restricted lawn growth making mowing a less frequent activity (Yippee!) however for those recently returned from holiday may need to give the lawn a trim but reduce the height gradually.

To encourage wildlife you can make shelters and leave prunings to provide suitable habitats for a range of species. To further attract wildlife certain plants are more attractive by supplying nectar such as Sedum spectabile ( highly attractive to butterflies and bees making an additional attraction in the autumn garden) and others for their, pollen, Lavatera (needs a bit of room and sun to be at its best. Insect-friendly planting is likely to attract more insects than a mass planting of flowers providing only nectar or pollen.

Having said that, my golden hop has been decimated by either slugs or snails and when I find them, wildlife will be discouraged!

So farewell until Pomona arrives.