A wild flower garden

Having been for a physiotherapy session in Aylsham in the morning (I have an ongoing shoulder injury that’s causing issues) I managed to stop for about 90 minutes at the raptor watchpoint at Swanton Novers as it was directly on my way home.

The hope was for honey-buzzard, an elusive woodland raptor which I have only seen once before, in 1994! There were plenty of songbirds around – yellowhammer, whitethroat, blackbird, linnet and more, and within the first 30 minutes I saw plenty of common buzzards, a kestrel and good views of a goshawk.

However it was only as I was almost ready to give up that someone (there were about half a dozen other birders there) said “honey-buzzard, high up above the wood”. It took some finding in the telescope, but I did find it and followed it for a couple of minutes as it glided about in the distance.

That was it for my birding day, and sadly Brenda had no new moths or flowers to report, but decided to write a little about managing a garden for wild flowers.

Brenda writes: “Before I was appointed Rector to these parishes the Diocese decided to buy a new house to be the Rectory. That is how we found ourselves living on a new build housing estate on the edge of Wells-next-the-Sea. On one side our boundary runs along what used to be the railway line, done away with by Beeching, and we face out onto a green with a little play area.

Staithe Place green, taken whilst I was precariously perched on top of our camper van in the driveway!

When we arrived it was a barren landscape laid to turf which completely freaked out our cats, who had been used to a jungle on the edge of a rural village in Cambridgeshire. In the five years since then the landscape has matured. The hedge along our drive and along the old railway has matured. Initially small areas of the green were set aside as wild flower areas. This has, year by year, been extended so that the bulk of our boundary now opens onto a wild flower meadow. The wonderful display of cowslips has now given way to grasses and ox-eye daisies and soon we will be seeing the most exciting species, first spotted two seasons back, bee orchids.

Staithe Place green looking north

Meanwhile, for the last two seasons, we have had two ‘wild flower’ areas in our back garden which, it has to be said, have mostly been just grass. But this year the garden has erupted quite spectacularly with a wonderful show of common vetch and all sorts of new colonisers, with our fruit trees along the fence at the bottom of the garden. This week I have designated the ‘mown’ areas and I think it looks wonderful.

Our back garden

The bee orchids, however, which we have had for the last two years, persist in growing in the ‘mown’ areas so I have to put in place various barricades so they are not trampled on or accidentally mown. They set leaves in the autumn and then just in the last week have started to put our flower spurs. The triffid to the left of the cube mobile similarly started work last autumn establishing a huge mat of prickly leaves. That has gone upwards now and I think is going to be an enormous clump of spear thistle which will be magnificent, but I will need serious protective gear to weed it out in the autumn!

The back garden with added mallards!

New species for May 26th:
Birds: honey-buzzard