Going Green means living in a jungle of creepy crawlies

Well, doesn’t it?  Try stepping out into my garden this afternoon.  When I moved to Yorkshire in 1980 I noticed a dearth of small birds in the newly-created garden.  This I put down to Latitude and Height above sea level.  The less temperate climate of Yorkshire at 700ft.  The housing estate was built on moorland possibly grazed by sheep, so the natural species found here were not those I was familiar with in rural Northamptonshire.  In 1987 I moved to Greetland, about 8 miles south into a very sheltered south-facing house with a large and neglected garden which abutted natural woodland and a derelict factory and an already unused mill pond.  Now I had more wildlife, including large numbers of toads and palmate newts, woodpeckers and owls, herons and even an occasional cuckoo.  This delighted me, but the 1980s garden regime had included spraying with herbicide and it was only after a gradual process that I turned it back into an organic garden, with plenty “good” weeds; the “bad” weeds kept under control; wild flowers (in other words the “good weeds”) were encouraged to spread.  My list of wildflowers now includes bluebells, forget me nots, various versions of aquilegia.

I certainly did massacre some Holly trees, it’s true, in the name of easy maintenance but brought in some native cherry and 2 new apple trees, sundry berries from a friends’ allotment and finally, in 2013, eschewed slug pellets completely.  Composting has always been done on a fairly large scale and a liquid feed made with comfrey or nettles replaces any artificial mixtures.  Everything has flourished in the last 4 years, so that the number of birds visiting the bird table has doubled.  Tits have been breeding successfully and bringing their young to the hanging fatballs.  Inevitably I have more, as well, of the “bad” wild creatures, which, of course, are not “bad” at all.  Take the bluebottle for instance.  They like to lay eggs in fresh manure.  More visitors to the bird table brings more fresh manure for them to settle on.  Likewise the new regime encourages wasps and bees.  We seem to have fewer stings and bites now than in the years of my childhood, but that may reverse.  Midsummer approaches and with it a burgeoning of wildlife numbers and broodiness in the hens.  Even the young hen who has never hatched in her life is giving it a go.   Happily for me, the only egg she is sitting on is a china one, since I have no use just now for extra hens (or, lets face it, cockerels).

When the wind blows or the sun rises and the heat builds up, my lovely garden is as green as can be and is consequently flooded with insects flying and hopping and wriggling about.  I hope some of the earlier tadpoles have survived, as now the ducks have left for a new home, their chances of reaching adulthood have increased tenfold.

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