The first of this year’s projects

Time for a change

Since last Autumn I’ve been making plans to change the wildlife area. It’s been planted up for about two years now and a couple of things are not working so it’s time to tweak!

The space measures about 4×4 meters with 4 main areas, its aim is to provide us with food, to bring wildlife onto the plot, give space to recycle and a place for us to sit down, chill out and watch the world go by. All with dappled shade in mind!

The four main areas

  1. Fruit
  2. Flower patch
  3. Composting/growing plant food
  4. The pond and drinking station

20180328_124815964608501.jpgThe first task this autumn was to tackle the raspberries. Now, I love raspberries and have always wanted to grow my own but over the past two years the raspberries have not performed very well and each autumn I’ve found myself struggling with under fruiting, unruly, prickly monsters and yet again the leaves turned yellow early in the season and the plants became riddled with raspberry beetle… anyone for ice cream and a raspberry beetle sprinkles? Are you sure… not!

A little research later I discovered yellowing leaves on raspberries is a common problem on waterlogged heavy soil but it’s also a sign of disease and mineral deficiency, probably an iron deficiency. Having tried feed and tonics I’ve decided to cut my losses and dig up the plants replacing them with two gooseberry bushes and two black current bushes from another part of the plot. It’s going to look a lot better and far more manageable. The fruits of these new bushes also crop much earlier in the year when we still have fairly good light levels whereas the raspberries cropped in autumn when light levels are much lower.

Next to the fruit bushes is the rhubarb patch which I love. I have two plants that produce without fail and one crops slightly earlier than the other to extend the harvest season. If you also want a nice early crop of rhubarb, Timperley Early is the variety for you. Or you could try forcing some. I’ve never done this as I only have the two plants. In a couple of years I’ll lift and devide to reinvigorate the plants but for now they remain as is and I look forward to the beautiful hot rhubarb crumble coming my way soon!

img_20161127_1331281045301634.jpgOpposite the rhubarb is the pond and drinking station which has been a real pleasure. I often sit eating my lunch amazed by the passing wildlife. It’s such a simple idea, just a plant pot base filled with water and stones but it attracts such a diverse audience from wasps, pigeons, foxes and butterflies stopping for refreshment. I’d encourage everyone to have one of these!

Because the pond has been so successful we’ve decided to extend it. I’ve saved a pile of wood from a recent tree trimming session and my plan is to chop these up into log piles perfect for lots of insects. I’ll interplant with saxifrage – I think it will look really pretty!

The main project

The areas I’ve most wanted to change are the flower patch and compost area. Everything has grown a bit Higgledy piggledy and some plants have thrived while others have been eaten or overshadowed so it’s time to have a move around and add a few more plants to bring some much needed colour into the area.

Over the winter I’ve made an initial attempt to mark out the area using canes. Not particularly professional I’ll admit but it’s clear to see that some squares are baron while others are cramped. Nothing looks particularly nice in winter anyway does it!

The planting list

My final list of plants are: Ferns, Alliums, Salvia, Lavender, Penstemon, Astrantia, Comfrey, Liriope, Feverfew, Anemone and Heuchera.

The design

I’ll be planting this up as soon as the warm weather arrives and of course show you. For now what I’m doing along the way. All the plants are waiting in the wings of my pollytunnel for now!

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