Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Puffin cam

Last May I wrote about "puffin cam", a camera placed inside a puffin burrow on Shetland and I have been watching the activity inside the burrow again this year. There is a single egg that was laid on May 7th and the incubation time is 35-45 days so it will be mid-June before the chick hatches.

You can see pictures from the puffin cam here. The camera is sponsored by the ferry company so there is a short advert (11 seconds) before the puffin pictures load but it is worth the wait, puffins are such cute looking birds.

I have also put a link to the camera on the sidebar.

This year the puffin egg in the puffin cam burrow did not hatch successfully.  There is more information here.  I hope that sandeels, the puffins main food source, are plentiful enough to allow other chicks to thrive and fledge.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

roof garden

Last weekend I visited another garden open under the National Gardens Scheme - gardens open for charity. This is the roof garden at risc (Reading International Solidarity Centre).

This garden is just 200 square metres and is on the top of building right in the centre of the town. Walking up the iron staircase to the building we left the town behind and found ourselves in a very peaceful and green space. The garden planting was completed in 2002 and I was surprised by how mature the garden looked, the plants obviously thrive in their elevated location.

All the plants are growing in just twelve inches of soil.  There are over 200 hundred different species including several large trees far taller than me.  The garden was cleverly laid out with paths snaking back and forth making it feel much bigger.

roof  lights in the garden let natural light into the building below

The garden was designed as a forest garden, based on a natural woodland ecosystem, with different layers of planting from trees, through bushes and shrubs and smaller plants at ground level. There were also climbers planted against the railings so no space was wasted.  All the plants grown have uses such as food, medicine, scent, natural dyes.

The green roof provides insulation for the building keeping it warmer in winter and cooler in summer and also acts as a giant sponge absorbing rainwater and reducing runoff, an important feature in towns which have mostly impermeable surfaces leading to flash floods when the rain water cannot drain away. This intensively planted roof can absorb up to 80% of the rain that falls on it.

Although this roof garden is very different from normal domestic gardens, the principles of the planting can be applied to any garden and I came away with lots of ideas to try at home. Now I no longer have an allotment I am growing a few vegetables at home in amongst the existing flowers and shrubs, this garden showed me how much can be squeezed into a small plot.

Friday, 20 May 2011

In the garden this evening

chives and bees

the first poppy of the year

young lettuce and salad leaves


Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Woodland - May

It has been a busy couple of weeks but I did take time to visit the little woodland near home. The top photograph is the lane leading to it. Here in southern England the warm weather and lack of rain means that the cow parsley is already fading, the roadsides have been full of its fluffy cream flowers.

The woodland is shady and the leaves are a darker green than last month. All the bluebells have finished  flowering leaving the stalks and seed capsules.

There are fewer flowers as the lower light level is lower. I spotted a single foxglove,

holly flowers attracting lots of attention from bees and other insects

and down on the woodland floor a covering of goosegrass with it small white star-like flowers.

The bracken has grown fast

and the little footpath is now narrow as the plants grow fast and few people walk along this route.

Many shades of green as the sun shines through the overlapping hazel leaves

and looking up, more leaves than sky.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Englefield Garden

The fine sunny weather continues and spring gardens are looking at their best. The garden at Englefield is my favourite garden and as it is only a few miles away I can visit often.

At this time of the year, the woodland garden is full of brightly coloured azaleas

and the softer colours of the acers.

The woodland part of the garden has a very natural feel.

There is also a formal terrace area, full of spring colour.

In the village of Englefield there is a small traditional garden centre. Most of the plants on sale are grown on site, a much nicer shopping experience than large impersonal garden centres. I bought some summer bedding plants but I am not planting them out yet. It has been so warm that it would be easy to forget that we sometimes get frost up until the end of May, I'll keep them safe and warm for another couple of weeks.