Wildlife gardening : another year, some more progress

The learning curve continues as another interesting year of gardening for wildlife passes.

The 2019 wildflower meadow area is really moving forward now with sheets of yellow rattle right across and more and more flowers of other plants. Some tiny cowslips were my favourite newcomers for 2022. It’s great to sit and watch the insects buzzing around there: butterflies, dragonflies, damselflies and more. This year I borrowed a scythe and cut it down before I went on holiday in September. No more cutting until next autumn.

Cowslip in the wildflower lawn, March 2022

The pond has become a real highlight of the garden as the plants mature and more and more surprises arrive: diving beetles, frogs, newts and dragonflies to name but a few. To add to the green cover to reduce algae, I added another water lily, the native fringed water lily. This had to be fished out for intensive care soon after I got it after an all out attack by my vigorous water snails. After a month in a bucket of rainwater from the water butt, it had a good crop of fresh leaves after which it romped away regardless of those pesky snails, and is now covering a good 30% of the pond surface.

Blue-tailed damselfly

The bog garden has been a little bit of a battle as one consequence of the “hottest” summer was that this was no bog. Emergency watering saved some precious plug plants I’d put in, bird’s foot trefoil and greater burnet. Shade from bigger plants also helped, even the dried-out leaves of the struggling gunnera acted as a saviour for small things underneath. Now with rain and the gentle overflow from the pond this area seems to be getting back on track. Nice late colour (pink!) is still coming from the water avens which is steadily spreading and helping reduce bare patches that can lose water.

Water avens and other plants in bog garden

I’ve got the bit between my teeth with converting lawn to wildflower areas and now have another 2 areas in preparation. The first was stripped of turf and sowed last autumn and the latest has just been stripped and sown. The earlier area had quite a bit of yellow rattle coming through and a nice surprise was a dusting of purple corn-cockle flowers. Every year is better with these meadow areas and it’s fun to walk down and check what’s popped up since you looked last.

I’ve put together a small gallery of photos from the wildlife garden below. I promise to write more about this project next year.

Yellow rattle in flower
Pondside plants including purple loosestrife (foreground)
Hemerocallis thriving on the damp pond margin
Rotting wood and perching points on dead branches next to the pond support dragonflies and damselflies.
Dragonfly nymph will eventually emerge by climbing vertical stems like reeds or purple loosestrife
Pond skater and damselfly nymphs