Notes from Grandma’s Gardening Diary – Part 3

This third blog from my Grandma brings us up to date on how her garden grows; starting with landscaping in April to a celebratory tea party in August ’21. Funny enough, I’ve been at Grandma’s this afternoon and despite making good progress last year, there’s still an awful lot of work to do!

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Notes from Grandma’s Gardening Diary Part 2

Following on from last week’s post, this second blog, picks up mine and Grandma’s ‘gardening graft’ from Autumn ’20 through to late Winter ’21, with a quiet Christmas and another lockdown thrown into the mix.

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Notes From Grandma’s Gardening Diary

If you follow me on my social media sites, you might know that I’ve been helping to redesign my Grandma Barbara’s Garden. Started back in July 2020, we’ve worked on it together at weekends and school/college holidays, whenever we could squeeze a session in. Sometimes we were so busy we forgot to take ‘before & after’ photos, but my Grandma always wrote a little log of what we achieved. Here’s the first in a series of blogs

Grandma’s Garden – Autumn 2020
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Reporting back on your Green Plans for ’22

I’ve received lots of feedback following last week’s post about making Green Plans for ’22, it seems January makes us all feel motivated to plan for brighter times ahead.

I had such a great response that I thought I’d share some of your inspiring comments; here’s just a few:

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My Green Plans For ’22, What’s Yours?

January, it’s a bit of a weird month; after all the hype of December and despite the start of new beginnings, it can seem a little grey and drab. At times I can be quite a fan of January, especially those crisp, frosty, blue-sky, walking outdoors kind of days, but often it feels too long of a slog til the first taste of spring. For me, it feels like, ‘head-down, work hard’ and plan for brighter times ahead; here’s just a few of my Green Plans for 2022:

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Helping To Protect My Patch, The Pennines

I’ve lived opposite The Pennines all my life and during the many lockdowns I became a bit obsessed with exploring the hills, trees, rivers and paths, literally every nook and cranny. The moors rarely change: the wind, the rattling heather, the carved rocks remain, and always remain. For me, when everything seemed so out of control, they were the one thing I could rely on. And now it’s my time to give something back, as I’ve just started doing some volunteer conservation work with RSPB Dove stones.

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How gardening can make you feel free

Today is World Mental Health Day and there’s stacks of info out there about the benefits gardening can have on your wellbeing.

I wrote this blog a while ago, about how gardening makes me feel free and how it has helped me, when I’m feeling stressed and worried about stuff and it’s just as relevant today.

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Buzzin’ to bee involved in BBC Radio 2’s Big Bee Challenge

Tomorrow, (20.08.21) BBC Radio 2’s Big Bee Challenge Garden is launched and I’m proper buzzin’ to have been involved. Bees are so important in our gardens, for pollination – flowers, plants, fruit and veg all need them – they are an essential part of our eco-system! 

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I’m not the only one fond of a pond!

I had a great reaction to last week’s post about my ‘passion for ponds’ and received lots of questions about plants, especially those that attract wildlife. If you build a good habitat for wildlife, you’ll not be the only one ‘fond of a pond’!

Pond Plants

I’m going to start off with listing some of the pond plants we have – we’ve bought some of these from garden centres and last year we found a really reasonable supplier online; it’s definitely worth shopping around and doing your research:

  • marsh marigold – good for pollinators
  • iris – great for emerging dragonflies to climb up, so they can take off from a height
  • oxygenators – help to oxygenate the water (we haven’t got a filter system in our pond, we just rely on mother nature to keep it clean)
  • purple loosestrife – another great native plant
  • greater spearwort – just to note greater spearwort and flag iris are a bit of a beast and can be out of control in no time

We’re on the hunt for a white pond lily this year, for the new pond and also some water forget-me-nots

Pond Life

A quick dip in our pond reveals the smallest organism, water fleas, which are the start of the food chain, there’s also mosquito larvae and pond snails which eat algae. There’s the predators of the pond, dragonfly and damselfly nymphs and tadpoles & frogs. There’s also the visitors to the pond such as birds, who bathe and drink there and we had a fox visit once.

Dragonflies

Dragonflies in particular are such beautiful insects, they fly so fast, but when you get to see them up close, you can see the intricate patterns on their wings, like stained glass windows. With their beautiful jewel like body and big black eyes, it’s hard to believe that they’re really a vicious predator. It’s incredible how they live most of their life in ponds as carnivores, so well adapted and the way they change like something out of Dr Who, when they shed their skin and metamorphosis right before your eyes.

The pond became my classroom during lockdown (spring – summer 2020); I was incredibly lucky to watch 40+ red damselflies emerge from our pond. What a privilege to see them transform and fly off and better still, we witnessed them mating a couple of weeks later, ensuring the next generation of damselflies. We also counted eight broad bodied chasers transform too, they completely dwarfed the damselflies. It took nearly 3 hours for them to transform and fly off, it was absolutely fascinating. I managed to capture one of the broad bodied chasers emerging – here’s 3hrs of footage shrunk to 3mins with a bit of Frank Sinatra thrown in !

We’ve had blue-tailed damselflies and darters visit; fingers crossed they’ll make their home in our pond too.

As we move into winter there’s not much action on the surface, but life beneath still thrives. We continually remove leaves from our pond and as we move into the thick of winter, our ponds freeze over. We break a hole in a shallow spot just near the beach bit, to allow wildlife access to water. Just take care though, as you don’t want to shock the life below!

This blog is based on an article I wrote for The British Dragonfly Society

Next blog….

My new found passion for The Pennines

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My passion for ponds

It’s a while since I wrote my last post, so I thought I’d kickstart the year with a positive post about my ‘passion for ponds’.

Having 3 in our garden makes me feel quite the pro 😉

A little bit about our garden

Our garden at home was originally on a steep slope, we then converted it to 3 more accessible levels. Dad started the landscaping from scratch when I was really young, it wasn’t quite a blank canvas, more an overgrown mess! Amongst many gardens we visited, a trip to a café at Monsal Head, Derbyshire inspired the stepped planting levels, that would suit our garden, rather than a traditional grass garden, surrounded by a border. I’ve always liked water, it’s that simple, the pond was going to be the last thing Dad intended to do, but because I love ponds so much, I managed to talk him into it being one of the first things we did!

Pond build 2013

Pond number 1

We started pond number one (there are 3!) back in 2013. Digging it out was a real nightmare; the ground below was full of debris, rubble, glass, and deep-set roots. We used a formed pond at this stage, because of the ground below and at that point it was going to be the only pond we would create – WRONG! We were thrilled with the outcome, pretty soon water beetles were settling in and making it their home and there were already frogs hopping round the garden.

Pond number 2

Within no time, we started to think about another pond, shaped around the first one, creating a reed and beach area, with more plants to create an even more diverse habitat. Originally, it was going to be 3 buckets with some plants in. It just shows, you can get a bit carried away with ponds and no sooner had we finished that, we already had thoughts of a third!

Pond number 3

Pond number 3 isn’t quite finished – this will be deeper still. In fact, we started digging it out on the first weekend of lockdown, March 2020. Like most things in our garden, there’s always something else to do, before you can carry on with the actual job!

Here’s a tip:

If you’re going to create a pond, just have a think about the surrounding area, for example, completion of an area that you won’t be able to reach, once the pond’s established.

George Hassall 2021 🙂

Ponds don’t have to be grand affairs, you can literally ‘dig a hole and bury a bowl’. Take a look at the mini pond I created for my one-year old neighbour, Gabriel.

I’d recommend creating a pond, whatever size, as they are a great thing to look at and wildlife will pretty much move in, within the first few days. On a sunny day, when the water’s clear and the sun is shining on it, just sit by and look at the wildlife, there’s just nothing better.

This is a family post, taken from an article we wrote for The British Dragonfly Society: Summer 2020

Coming soon……….Flora & fauna in my pond

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