For Day 9 of 30 Days Wild I went for a wonderful walk on the playing fields alongside the A40 in Uxbridge. This might sounds unpromising, with 6 lanes of one of the busiest roads into London bordering one side of the field, but actually it’s a beautiful area.
I had an unexpectedly busy weekend so didn’t manage to write about days 6 and 7, though I did make sure to look and listen to nature more than normal when I was walking the dog over the last couple of days, so I kept up with the project, even though I didn’t blog about it.
Back to normal today, so I decided to take a look at some of the street trees in my area. I thought I already noticed these, but I was surprised by the variety of species, the number of recently planted trees as well as lots of mature trees, which must be providing habitats for a range of wildlife – quite heartening to see so much greenery on suburban streets.
I realised I could spend a lot longer doing this and also identifying some of the trees I was unsure about. I think this is something I’ll come back to (and with my camera rather than my phone) after the 30 Days Wild is over.
There was a male sparrowhawk at the end of my garden this morning, and, after the kids had gone to school I watched for ages hoping it would return. So that was my 30 Days Wild for today – and very exciting at it’s only the second time we’ve seen one in the garden. But, as I don’t have a picture of it, I took a few photos of creatures on my herbs while I was watching for the sparrowhawk.
The one above is a mint moth, though not on mint but marjoram, which seems to attract lots of them, while they ignore the mint next to it. Below is a greenbottle on the same plant.
And lastly a spider, but I haven’t been able to identify it – please let me know if you can.
A few weeks ago my 10 year old son and I collected some frogspawn from a local pond, and since then we’ve been watching avidly as it turned into tadpoles then frogs. So today our 30 Days Wild activity was releasing our little frogs back into the wild. We chose an area beside a ditch under a hedgein our local playing field, not far from where we found the frogspawn. It’s been fun watching their development and I wish I’d done this when my children were younger as it’s been a great way to get them more engaged with nature. We’re already looking forward to next spring.
Today for 30 Days Wild I spent some time looking at clouds. I don’t know anything at all about different types of clouds, but I would like to teach myself. If anyone can recommend a book or website for a beginner please let me know.
And a couple more, taken the following morning:
For day two of 30 Days Wild I spent some time watching snails and slugs. I find them fascinating, but this is often overshadowed by my frustration when they eat my favourite plants, so it was interesting to spend half an hour getting to know them a bit better.
A little late, but here are my thoughts on this year’s Chelsea Flower Show.
I’ve been going to Chelsea for the last 4 or 5 years. I have to admit to being more interested in plants than in design, and I am one of those gardeners whose garden is crammed with a messy mixture of one of each cultivar rather than the limited palette of plants I know would work better design-wise. But I am starting to understand more about why designs work and why I connect with some gardens and not others.
One of my favourite show gardens this year was the Morgan Stanley Healthy Cities Garden, designed by Chris Beardshaw. I loved the colours, the fact that every space was crammed with a vibrant range of plants, but somehow it all still looked ordered and even calm. I would like to read more about how colour works in garden design.
This garden is being rebuilt after the show in a community space in east London, and I think you can tell that it is designed for a ‘real’ situation. I feel a bit uncomfortable about the extravagance and waste that must happen in order for these perfect show gardens to be created. The plants that must be rejected, the energy and resources that go into getting the plants in peak condition at exactly the right time, the transportation, all for just a week-long show, so it’s good to know that many of them will have a life after Chelsea.
Dan Pearson’s garden will eventually be recreated at its spiritual home at Chatsworth. It was quite astonishing and incongruous to see what looked like a small slice of the countryside surrounded on all sides by crowds of people in smart clothes drinking champagne (though I haven’t been to Chatsworth – perhaps that’s what it’s like). Although it was a dramatic, huge scale project, with gnarled mature trees and large boulders, it was the tiny details I enjoyed most – the plants growing out of cracks in the rocks, the tufts of grass that looked like they had been there for decades.
A completely different garden which I liked just as much was the Beauty of Islam Garden by Kamelia Bin Zaal. I loved it’s simplicity and calmness. I find it very interesting to work out how designers create atmosphere in their gardens, and for me Bin Zaal did this best at Chelsea this year. All green and white, it felt like a very quiet, contemplative space, even in the bustle of Chelsea.
Another garden that really captured my attention was the Royal Bank of Canada garden by Matthew Wilson (conveniently sitting here in his garden). This one will was designed to be rebuilt at a hospice after the show.
Having enjoyed the fact that the Beardshaw garden was so crammed with plants and colour, what I liked about this one was the sparseness of the planting, allowing each plant to stand out.
I also liked these wiggly benches.
I hope to get round to writing a part 2 soon…