Butterfly Friendly Garden

It’s just over a year ago now that I started transforming the front garden into a butterfly and bee friendly garden (http://blog.v-s-f.co.uk/2015/08/front-garden-transformation/). In the last post I finished the article with some photo’s of the garden from April showing the newly planted borders.

The garden was a huge success and I’ve been very p. The plants grew up more than I’d expected, filling in the gaps nicely (in some cases too much!). My neighbours all commented on the Red Dahlia’s which I thought wouldn’t grow after being frosted a number of times!

Here’s a few pictures of the garden at various stages.

front-garden-grown-up-1

IMG_7066

IMG_7063

IMG_7065

But the main reason as stated above for transforming the garden was to encourage more butterflies and bees and the garden certainly delivered! We had a wide variety of butterflies in the garden at times with over 20 butterflies at a time. Here are pictures of the different butterflies and caterpillars we saw during the year.

Mullein Moth Caterpillars
mullein-moth-catterpillar

Yellow Tail Moth Caterpillar
yellow-tail-moth-catterpillar

Brimstone
brimstone

Ringlet
ringlet

Red Admiral
red-admiral

Painted Lady
painted-lady

Peacock
peacock

Speckled Wood
speckled wood

Small White(?)
small-white

Small Tortoiseshell
small-tortoiseshell

There were a couple more that I couldn’t get my camera out quick enough to take a photo unfortunately, but one was bright blue and small about the size of a 10 pence piece. The other was brown with orange spots and might well have been a female Adonis Blue. Next year I’ll have the camera ready!!

Front Garden Transformation

For the last few years, I’ve grown wildflowers in the back garden to attract bees and butterflies into the garden. The flowers were really successful the first year I grew them, with the border full of cornflowers and poppies.
Since then I’ve not had quite as much success – despite throwing ten thousand poppy seeds in the garden two years ago! This year the Red Campion from the year before took over, so we did get wild flowers, just not much variety…
(This photo shows the Red Campion before it flowered, taking over the border)
red-campion

About this time last year, I decided to revamp the front garden to make it bee and butterfly friendly. Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo of the border before I started and could only find this photo from 2002(!)
(In the picture I’ve ringed the holly tree [very small at the time!] and an arrow to show the side with the neighbour + the very difficult to remove bushes)
front-garden

The front garden has two borders, the one with the neighbours’ garden which is about 6 meters long and the other which joins at 90 degrees to the other spanning 8 meters.
I started on the border with the neighbour first as the other one had a twelve foot plus holly tree which we were going to use for the Christmas tree in 2014. It took a couple of months to clear the area of all plants and dig it over.
I then stupidly though “why not sift the soil!” hahaha. 2 months… and 1 cubic yard of soil later… I’d nearly lost the will to finish the project.
Having sifted sooo much rubbish out of the soil (plant rubbish and nasty weeds), it became apparent the only way to prevent some of the nasty weeds from spreading from the garden next door was to put in a fence with gravel boards to as deep as I could summon the will to dig.
Luckily the weather was kind to me and despite having measured the fence length incorrectly and having to purchase and dig an extra fence post hole, I got the fence in at the end of October/beginning of November. After that I finished off the process of soil transportation, sieving and began planting the border.
(This is a picture with part of the new fence)
fence

In December we cut down the holly to go in the house (all 11 feet of it!) and what a lovely tree it made.
(This is the holly tree in our sun lounge).
holly

Instead of sifting the soil in the next 8 meters of border, I took the approach this time to dispose of it and fill in the border with compost which was so much easier!
Then came the fun part – ordering plants online to create a new bee and butterfly friendly garden.
(This image shows the new plants when relatively new)

The total cost of the project was around one thousand pounds! But it was worth it.
…more to come in another post
planted

Canon 550D

I bought a new camera on Tuesday (part bought, part very early Christmas present).  After much umming and erring, I ended up going with the Canon 550D from John Lewis (so I’ve got a good guarantee).  It’s been over 5 years since I last had a camera and that was bought in 2001 (Canon Ixus V).

So yesterday after work I took a few snaps of the kittens 🙂

Cassie about to pounce
Camera Settings: f/5.6, 1/60 sec., ISO-500, focal length 55mm

Blaize

Blaize
Camera Settings: f/4.5, 1/50 sec., ISO-100, focal length 18mm

Blaize and Cassie in stand-off

Cassie and Blaize in a stand-off before a fight.
Camera Settings: f/5.6, 1/60 sec., ISO-500, focal length 55mm

Despite the fact that the camera settings are on the image, I must admit that I had it on full auto.  It’ll take a few years to get used to the camera and read + learn all the settings.

One thing I found though was that in the days worth of photos and 6 videos, I used 2.8 GB of the memory card!  After doing so, I’ve turned off the raw + jpeg mode and only set the camera to save jpeg images for the time being.  I simply do not have enough storage in the house to continue at that rate…  As it is, by Christmas I’ll need to purchase a few hard drives for storage.  One of the videos is only 35 seconds, but 202 MB in size! (or on my broadband connection – over one hour to upload to youtube)

Very pleased with it though 🙂  and glad to have a camera again.