Gardening Magazine

Wildlife in the Garden

By Notcuttsuk @notcuttsuk

Wildlife in the GardenClematis Rhederana and vine in AutumnAlthough the wet ground is preventing me from doing any work on the allotments, I have been busy in the garden, tidying and pruning on dry days. My late flowering Clematis plants have all been pruned to a few inches above the ground, including the vigorous C. rhederana which was a picture in late summer and autumn last year. The scented, yellow bells hung for weeks as the plant managed to scramble over a huge section of the back garden that had been sadly neglected. The bees loved the flowers and the result of their work was plenty of fluffy seed heads to add interest through the autumn. Contrasting with a Cotoneaster bullatus that was laden in red berries - dismissed until well into the New Year by the Blackbirds and Thrushes due to the mild weather - and the ornamental Vine that had superb autumn colours of rich red, this part of the garden was full of color for weeks.  However, this corner has been on my hit list for a while and is now being worked on. The Clematis has been reduced back to a foot (30cm) and I have thinned out some of the older, papery wood to ground level. It was hard work pulling all of last year’s growth out of the surrounding trees and shrubs and resulted in a huge pile of stems to be cut up and put in bags for the local green skip – I didn’t want to overcrowd my compost heaps with too much woody material!

An early flowering Honeysuckle had also started to take over, layering itself and producing new plants everywhere. Usually I would prune this back after flowering, but last year Blackbirds nested there and I was keen to remove the unwanted growth before they began to think about setting up home again. Mrs McGregor was a bit cross about losing the crop of red and white flowers that scent the garden in early summer, so we compromised by only pruning one side of the plant – I will attack the other side next autumn!

Pruning the Honeysuckle and Clematis, removing the big Pine tree and pruning the Vine back to the trellis has let more light into the garden and the shrubs and bulbs planted there are looking better for the decision. By the end of this summer, there will be plenty of new growth and the whole area will look softer again. Gardens are never finished – they are always evolving and sometimes harsh pruning and maintenance are part of this process.

The birds are also busy in the garden, chasing each other around and attracting their mates. Valentine’s Day is supposedly when they pair up for the season and many of the males are looking very smart with their new plumage. We have had a Chaffinch who I think can see his reflection, sitting on the handle of the patio doors into the dining room, pecking at the glass! Bird song is all around and we have already seen Blackbirds with nesting material in their beaks. I am hoping that they will still set up home in another part of the garden and will keep you all posted if they do!

Happy Gardening,

Mr MrGregor

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