I’ve written a couple of previous blogs about my tiny urban garden and the things I’ve done to try and make it more attractive to wildlife. It was the inspiration for the recent Garden Bioblitz event that took place across the UK, and it has brought me enormous pleasure in terms of bringing a little bit of nature into a very urban part of a city.
So it was hugely upsetting to get back from holiday last weekend to find that next door’s landlord had not only hacked down half of one of our bushes, but had dumped the lot, complete with broken pieces of wood, brick and nails, across my entire garden. My pots, flowerbeds and miniature ponds were completely buried and I feared that all my hard work had been ruined.
Nature bounces back
Luckily, with the bulk of the debris cleared away and the surviving plants watered, the garden has already made a good recovery, although it doesn’t quite look as glorious as it did a few weeks ago!
Although I was extremely upset by the thoughtless (and downright rude) destruction that had happened, an hour or so outside clearing up this afternoon was enough to restore my joy in my little urban oasis.
My buddleia, undamaged by the pile of debris, is now flowering, filling the garden with its sweet, honey-like scent and attracting numerous bumblebees and even a butterfly or two. I made sure I took 15 minutes out to take part in the Big Butterfly Count, spotting a nice small white flying over – you can now enter your results for this survey via a really easy-to-use iPhone app so there’s no excuse not to take part!
I love how lush all the vegetation is at this time of year – I had to do a bit of pruning back in order to reach parts of the garden and to prevent my bucket ponds being swamped, but the rest I just enjoyed. The jasmine and clematis at the bottom of the garden were attracting bumblebees plus a few hoverflies, while those flower that had survived in the pots were feeding a couple of hoverflies and a solitary bee.
My bucket ponds are also doing well, despite problems earlier in the year with blanketweed. My great pond snail – a pretty massive beast – appears to have bred, and I’ve now got several large snails in each of my three buckets. They’re also full of daphnia and, although perhaps not welcome by everyone, quite a few mosquito larvae – hopefully these will go on to feed some hungry insect predator!
Buzzing with life
Ironically, the plant that is proving most popular is the one that next door’s landlord tried to hack down. I’ve yet to confirm what it is (if you know, please tell me!), but its tiny greenish-white flowers appear to be irresistible to every fly for miles around. I’ve never seen so many insects in my garden – the whole bush is literally buzzing. The wasps seem to like it too – they’re the first I’ve seen in a long time – although they appear to be just as attracted by the flies, as I spotted one in a dramatic tussle with a green bottle fly it was attempting to sting to death on the ground!
Another highlight of the afternoon was finding the skins of several ladybird larvae / pupae. On getting them identified it turns out they belonged to the invasive, non-native harlequin ladybird, but I also managed to spot a native seven-spot ladybird on the same plant – the first I’ve ever recorded on my patch. I also found what appeared to be perhaps a recently emerged harlequin, with its spots not quite showing through! The same plant (a small goat willow sapling which suddenly appeared last year and has since shot up dramatically) was also home to hordes of tiny caterpillars, further showing how the presence of just one plant species can be beneficial to a range of different creatures.
It was great to see the garden so alive with insects – I’ll be keeping a close eye on what visits as I’m constantly finding new species! It really does prove that you don’t need a huge garden to support your local wildlife. Sadly the gardens around mine are little more than sterile patios, but imagine if everyone in the street grew even just a few plants – my patch wouldn’t be so much of an island in a sea of concrete, but more of a vital link in a corridor of green spaces. Hmm… next project to work on perhaps?!