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Friday, 2 December 2016

Frozen

This week's blog is short (but hopefully sweet) and is an opportunity for me to reflect on the intricate and exquisite artwork I have seen during the past few days, conjured and crafted by Mother Nature herself.

Jack Frost really has been hard at work weaving his/her way delicately through cobwebs and over bare branches whilst coating blades of grass and foliage with a glistening and crystallized sheen.


The journey to work this week has seemed eerily quiet too. I wasn't leaving any earlier or later than usual - it was a normal working day, no different to the days and weeks beforehand. 

I felt as though I had missed a 'day off work' memo. Although slightly unnerving, I was able to absorb the intense beauty of the frost covered landscape before me without the hustle and bustle of traffic. 

Undulating hills in the distance were covered in a  frost layer so thick it could have been mistaken for snow. 

I regret that I was unable to stop and take photos on my commute- the camera on my phone would not have done the landscape any justice either.




On arrival to work I noticed that the lake had frozen over - The perfect opportunity for some ice skating perhaps?

I wouldn't dare risk it, as tempting as this was. The ice did not look thick enough to take the weight of even a bird, let alone me!

My colleague Mary was kind enough to share some of her imagery with me due to my lack of picture taking.



Ghostly tentacle- like branches drape over a scenic winter landscape, with scarce remaining foliage  drooping like pendants to signify the end of Autumn.  



A picture perfect countryside view. 

A thick coating of frost was delivered to these trees. A visual masterpiece that could never be re-created by man (or if it could, I would like to see someone try)



Thank you Mary for these wonderful images - This is a personal favourite of mine. 

Why?

I love that the frost particles prickle out like miniature spikes. They almost look like fine hairs standing on end, and it provides a wonderful texture to the 'average' and everyday objects we would normally ignore. 


Please feel free to share some of the images you've snapped this week. Frost really can make things look so different and even more beautiful.

Let me know if you have had snow this week or whether you have basked in glorious sunshine, laughing away at the notion of frosty, cold mornings.

I would love to hear from you.

Let me know what you would love to read about in the future. Have a lovely weekend, whatever the weather!

becky@hayloftplants.co.uk 




































Friday, 25 November 2016

Winter Wildlife Wonderland

Close your eyes and think back to a time where sun would stream through your curtains like giant strobe lights, where warmth would pulsate on your face, awakening you gently from a peaceful and restful slumber. In these first few moments of haziness, you feel comfort from the upbeat choral echoes of the birdsong, a welcomed sign of a great day to come.

Summer Mornings
Take a few moments to reminisce, maybe even wander off into a daydream if you so wish. 

Now think about what happened when you woke up this morning. 

The experience (for myself anyway) goes like this: I am no longer awakened by light and warmth, but by a very aggressive and annoying alarm tone. I sluggishly come to life, convincing myself it is still the middle of the night until I realise I have deliberated this for a whole twenty minutes and realise I am now in fact running late. 
In the subsequent and rather rushed moments I peer outside to the dull slate grey atmosphere and realise there are no birds. No harmonic orchestral song or even that one lone ranger that braves a solo tune. The garden seems lifeless without it.

It is a sad state of affairs.

Winter is a tough time for wildlife - there is little food and the days are shorter, making  life both hard and exhausting. Some animals give up on winter altogether, choosing to hibernate or migrate to warmer climates.



I have looked into this matter to see what we can do and the tasks that we need to undertake for wildlife to not only survive the winter, but live like kings and queens throughout the coldest of months. Personally I will be doing all I can to encourage more life into my garden - it really isn't that hard, or time consuming!

Make a difference:

Birds:

Just remember, anything is better than nothing. Do not feel as though you need houses and feeders dotted around every spare space of garden. Here is what we can to help our fluttery, feathered friends:


- Provide a mixture of fat blocks (suet or lard) mixed with grain or nuts and position these in wire cages above the ground or on a wire mesh close to the soil level for ground feeding birds such as the Robin. 
- Consider planting trees that produce berries and fruits such as Cotoneaster and Pyrancantha. This will provide birds with a sweet treat to help keep them fuller for longer. 
- The common blackbird love fruit - scatter a mixture of apples and raisins on the ground for them to nibble.   
- Provide a shallow dish of water, ideally at ground level as this will not only benefit birds, but also other wildlife to keep them healthy and hydrated.

Foxes: 


If you have chickens, or other forms of poultry in your garden, you may want to bypass this one. But if you wish to see Mr Fox in your garden, leave our cheese or meat carcasses at dusk. Remember to remove and replace to prevent other unwanted guests.

Squirrels:

Squirrels attempt to stock their cupboards during autumn to make life easier during the winter. However, when supplies get low you may wish to provide nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts and chopped fruits such as apples.

Badgers:

Badgers struggle immensely during the winter as they can no longer burrow into the soil when the ground is frozen. If you wish to see these creatures in your garden leave out cooked meat, peanuts and chopped fruits.

Frogs, Toads and Hedgehogs:



You should not see many of these creatures at this time of year as they should be enjoying a lovely long snooze. However you do need to check before you disturb and possibly set fire to garden debris, as this is where they may have nestled down over the colder months. Keep water sources free and accessible too, in case they are prematurely disturbed. 



Tips:

Clean out nest boxes: Help out your feathered friends by ensuring nest boxes are cleared out properly to prevent diseases and pests from taking hold. Replace materials regularly. If you don't have a nest box, it may be a good idea to get one. These will ensure that birds have adequate protection from the harsh cold of winter.

Water Water everywhere: If temperatures drop to freezing, make sure that wildlife have a clear access to water. Break the ice on bird baths and ponds and replace with tepid water. If you are breaking ice on a pond, take care to do this carefully as this may send out shock waves through the water causing detrimental effect to hibernating frogs, fish and other animals.

Do not do too much: You may be eager to get your gloves and boots on, clearing up piles of dead leaves and cutting back plants and shrubs. If you can resist, you will be creating the most wonderful haven for wildlife.

I miss hearing the plethora of sounds from my garden and would like to think my garden is a place of refuge for the wildlife that braves the colder months.

What will you be doing or what have you done to help the wildlife in your garden?

becky@hayloftplants.co.uk