Monday, 28 July 2014

Operation Garden Meadow - Part 4

I hadn't been to Marks Mansions for two weeks, so on Saturday and Sunday I was dying to see if any of my cuttings or seeds had taken.
I had previously planted a pot of wild foxglove seeds, a pot of wild sweet pea seeds, two pots of native honeysuckle cuttings and a pot of mixed wild flower seeds. And I have had some success. The only seeds that haven't 'taken' are the sweet peas. The whole of the top of the pot was covered in slug and snail trails, so I'm guessing they had a feast on my seedlings. I don't have any more seeds so will have to harvest some more on my next trip to the woods.
But what pleased me the most was at that two of my 13 honeysuckle cuttings have new tiny leaves on them. I'm so chuffed. I hope some of the others root too, so I'll have more stock in case anything happens to any of them.
It was incredibly warm in the garden on Sunday, and I didn't really feel like doing much at all, but eventually with a gin and lemonade under my belt I found the energy to plant out three of the self seeded sunflowers.
With all the recent hot weather and me not being on site to water my 'patch', the mind-your-own-business that I had started to plant around the slabs for the stepping stone path, had mostly dried up to a crispy brown mess. I harvested some more from the Lady of the Manors spreading pile by the conservatory and with more care than last time, buried some of it in a very wet trench along the edge of one of the slabs. I watered both the ground and the matted plant very well.
Whilst pottering about a tiny toad emerged from under the membrane. After taking the photo below I carefully placed him on one of the tiles on the new insect/toad hotel that I constructed a few weeks ago. It took just seconds for Little Toad to crawl into the hotel. My first amphibian resident !
We have another toad in the garden, he's about two thirds bigger than Little Toad and he resides in the compost bin. As he seems so happy there, we haven't bothered trying to move him. If he doesn't like it there, he can move out himself.
As I'm not planning to plant my meadow up until April of next year, I've re-covered my area in membrane. However the Lady of the Manor has her half of the bottom of the garden too, and she's itching to get some plants in the ground. So between us we've started digging it over.
The top of the slightly sloping area is really compacted and quite hard work. As you move down the slope it becomes easier to dig into. Mum had a bag of rotted manure left over from a previous project so I chucked some of that down and dug it in where I could. I'm hoping that where I couldn't dig, the worms and critters from the manure will help break up the soil a bit.
Mum keeps saying we need to get a big strong man in to dig over the ground, but to be honest I'd rather do the work myself. I'll get more satisfaction next year whilst enjoying the new garden, if I can say with hand on heart that all the work was done by us alone.
However the thought of a tanned, topless, sweaty, rippling muscly hunk of a male digging over the soil whilst we watch from the luxury of a seat with a glass of wine in our hands, is also quite tempting......
Anyway, enough of that ! Back to the blog....
As you can see below the Lady of the Manor has already got quite a collection of plants to put in her new shady patch..............
She is in danger of doing what she has already previously done. Buying too many plants then wondering where to put them all !!
After sweating my way through a few hours of digging and planting, I captured this view from the conservatory looking down the garden whilst I supped on my second gin and lemonade......
Just lush.
Last but not least, on Saturday night the Lady of the Manor and myself took a torch down to the buddlia tree which is in a corner of my area of the 'estate'. Buddlias not only attract butterflies. At night their perfume also attracts moths, and that's what we watched for a while.
When we went back into the conservatory we found a couple of moths had made their way indoors, but out of reach. So we left the windows open, turned off the light and hoped they would find their way back outside.
The following morning we thought we had succeeded until I found one of them on the conservatory rug.........
A stunning Elephant Hawkmoth. For a while he sat on my hand warming himself up by fluttering his beautiful wings, and just as I was about to place him on the wisteria trunk to sleep the day away in shade, he took off and disappeared from view. Lovely.

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