Each year, we leave areas in our garden untamed. Other wild areas border the woodland behind us, providing a corridor for the wildlife. Inviting mini-beasts in. More than we knew existed.
The grass grows tall. Perfect for flying insects to land on. While a slight movement of the grass gives away something winding its way through. A frog, a toad or maybe a mouse. Once a newt. Sit still for long enough and you spot something making the most of the wild areas. I’ll find a child lying on their tummy, waiting for it to appear.
One thing I’ve noticed is that not only does it attract insects and other small creatures, but also children. A cry will go up that a slow worm has been spotted and children will appear from no where. Torn away from screens, in some cases.
They can’t wait to hold a slow worm.
Sometimes I worry that phones and screens are taking more and more of their time, when we’re at home. We restrict the time, but is it enough? Then I remember hearing them discuss the different ids of plants, or the life cycle of the ladybird, and I think that maybe I shouldn’t be so concerned. Like nature, they will find the balance.
(They all turned up separately to join in the roost count last week. We counted 151 bats coming out of our attic.)
So if we keep leaving the grass to grow, then I reckon the children will carry on finding nature more interesting than a screen, even if it’s not for long each time.
Still tempting them to discover more.
blackbird egg shell
This evening, I sat watching a gold crest in our yew tree. Trying to take a photo. My nine year old joined me and asked what I was doing. I explained.
“Ah. That’s the one who sounds like your sewing machine. Where is it?”
I really shouldn’t worry.
(not a wild area)
Meet Violet. She eats slugs for a living. Not just any old beetle.
To top it all, she has the most amazing colourful sheen that only reveals itself if you look closely. She is a Violet Ground beetle.
Fortunately, Violet is not an uncommon beetle in the UK. Some of her kin could easily be living in your garden already, chomping their way through your slugs and other garden pests. They start young. Devouring pests even in their larvae state.
How often do we look? How often do we lump black ground beetles into the same category?
Violet’s an easy garden guest. She’ll find her own food. Nothing special. She likes to rest under leaf cover, stones and logs. Also happy to sign-in to conveniently positioned bug hotels, if provided. So if you would like one, like her, to move into your garden, you know what to do.
Joining in #30DaysWild with the Wildlife Trust
Sometimes you just need to take the bull by the horns and go for it. I guess that’s why so many people have the childhood memory of sitting on a seafront promenade, eating soaked fish and chips in the rain. Hood up. As they look out over the sea, they promise themselves that they will never ever put their own children through the experience. (But of course they do. We all do.)
Life cannot be put on hold just because the weather’s not ideal. We’d never get anything done.
This week has been wet and windy, with a splattering of sunshine for us, but when I look back, we’ve spent more time out than inside feeling sorry for ourselves.
We went to the Bath and West show, which everyone enjoyed. There was a short burst of rain, but on the whole, we were lucky.
Seeking more time outside, at home we put up our garden shelter and had a fabulous evening sitting out and toasting marshmallows over the fire bowl. There is nothing more wonderful than being outside with my family in an evening. Joined by our resident bats swerving in their evening flight, to investigate what their
mad humans are doing, this time. They are curious like creatures, and so wonderful.
The children put on a light show. It became a competition on who could make the clearest image. I captured a few on my camera by changing the ISO setting to 6400. No-one went to bed early. I think this may become a family favourite.
Unfortunately, the wind picked up the garden shelter, a few days later, and impaled it on our oak tree. It took the whole family to retrieve it. The oak tree won. I’m afraid we won’t be using the shelter again, but at least it’s no longer in the branches.
There is no doubt, however, simple playthings are the best. I’m so impressed by how the children can have fun with the most basic of objects. Give a child a tree, a rope and a piece of wood and they will play for ages.
My parent’s dug out the tree swing when we visited and the children set it up. Taking turns to swing. Higher each time.
They really did have fun. It was quite a wrench to see them back in their uniforms on Monday and heading off to school. Although I did bring youngest back home again, when I realised that they had an Inset day. Oops! He tagged along for the day with me instead. We popped in to see my parents again, and he stayed with them while I went to the dentist, so the day was good. Apart from maybe the dentist part.
We’ve been out noting all the changes in our garden and local area. We took a detour on our morning dog walk, through a local meadow which was splattered with common spotted orchids, as far as you could see, and more wild flowers than I could identify. Photos taken and we’ll research them soon.
Back home in our wild areas in the garden, it was noticeable how the the insects started buzzing as soon as the rain stopped. Waiting at the bottom of the stalks and under leaves to avoid the raindrops. There was a cloud of blue damsel flies triggered by the sun coming out.
These bugs are new to me, but are currently on my awesome list. I know they don’t look much and I would hate to meet one scaled up, but they are amazing little critters. This is the larvae of the dock leaf beetle. I included a photo of adult beetle last week. If ever a bug was a good reason not to spray an area with herbicides and insecticides, I’d put these ones forward as candidates. These guys annihilate dock. We are talking shredding it. Amazing. (Understandably, farmers don’t want dock in their silage as it reduces fermentation and quality, but hopefully you can see where I’m going with this.)
During the week, I visited a friend who has recently moved, to see her new house. We had lunch at the local lavender farm. The flowers weren’t quite out, giving us an excuse to go back in a few weeks. It was still a relaxing lunch alfresco, overlooking the purple fields.
Looking back through the photos, it is amazing how much time we do spend outside. My youngest summed it up so perfectly. He reminded me that we’d never see all the interesting nature if we were in the car. You have to get out and look.