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Jim Macd

Latest posts by Jim Macd

Native plants

Posted: 13/06/2015 at 18:01

Jo if you really wanted Wild Cherry you could get a dwarfing rootstock and graft on a wild cherry. It sounds daunting but it really isn't so difficult with a bit of practice and you've got little to lose. However the wildlife benefit of a cultivated cherry is probably about the same as long as it's not a sterile double. Everyone who's had a cherry tree knows how much the birds love cherries.  I've haven't tasted mine yet the birds don't give me a chance.  

Native plants

Posted: 13/06/2015 at 17:55

On the subject of flowering lawn, Emorsgate seeds has an very good list of native grasses. If you are wanting to tick boxes you can't go far wrong with native grasses, they add a lot of benefit. Many moths feed specific grasses. Helps if the grasses are left a bit longer though. It's taken 5 years but my lawn near the house which my partner insists should be kept as 'lawn' not a 'meadow' is full of wild grasses that came in from the meadow and other than the bit under the bird feeder it's all very short, well relatively, the seed heads are about eight inches high but I think it looks fantastic and it hasn't been cut in about 5 weeks. That's down to keeping nutrients low though by removing all the cuttings. As I say under the bird feeder it's a very different story, more like an abandoned school rugby field.

Native plants

Posted: 13/06/2015 at 17:41

It is a very difficult one. A lot really depends from what angle you're coming at. Personally being focused on Botany my emphasis is on the plants, I want to conserve the British Wild flora and I think if you focus on that then you won't got far wrong. Its very easy for an expert who's spent years studying to give a tiny fraction of their balanced knowledge in a few sound bites for it to then goes on the misinterpreted and used in totally the wrong way. My local Wildlife HQ is Rainton Meadows, now you'd think they'd have acres of meadows by the name, but they don't. Most of the area they have seems to be dedicated to birds so of course being a wooded island most of the area is taken up by woodland and ponds for water birds with very little managed meadow. It's a very big subject and there's lots of new data that goes against the grain of what I studied. I really do think though that if you want a wildlife friendly garden you've got to include as many natives as you can. It doesn't have to be a case of ticking off names on a list because there's a lot of native plants that don't support much wildlife and a lot of non-natives that do. But that comes down to knowledge again and wheather you are conserving insects for the sake of the insects or the birds that live on the insects. You can't really give rounded sound bites. You can't sum up years of research in a few lines of text that will be taken and absorbed in the right contecxt by total novices. To quote Buddhism don’t turn your teacher into a demon. Don’t get the wrong end of the stick and do harm.  It made me smile on a GW episode last year when they interviewed an entomologist who gave a really well balanced explanation of what was the current thinking. He said something like many species of insects are very specific on the native plants they need while others really don't mind where the plants come from, then Monty, summed it up saying 'It's interesting that until a few years ago it was generally thought that native plants were key to getting insects into your borders but research has shown recently that it doesn't make much difference…" I screamed. NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Years of work by wildlife experts undone by a one line. Cart blanche to do what you like in the garden then. Oh boy!  


Native plants

Posted: 13/06/2015 at 12:03

The pfaf site should reed not very scientific, sorry. you're welcome nut.  

Native plants

Posted: 13/06/2015 at 12:00

I should add, just scanning through the suggestions, so many aren't native. Only one crab is native. But again check with the council what they keen by native. I have another list of pages that gives the benefit of certain native and non-natives to wildlife. Some surprises there. 

Native plants

Posted: 13/06/2015 at 11:56

I've just finished updating and double checking my list of natives. Here's the link You can choose where the links go to. Google, the pfaf site which is interesting but to very scientific and check any information before using it, and the Online Atlas of the British and Irish Flora. My site makes it very easy to use since it's laid out in a list. The list came originally from the Natural History Museum site, hence the name NHM. It was supposed to be a list of only natives, however I noticed several anomalies, and probably others did too which is probably why they've taken it down. Well, if you look you'll see a couple of abbreviations a, and n. I toyed with the idea of removing these plants since this indicates that the species aren't strictly native, however I felt removing plants that have been here since the Bronze age a bit hard line so I marked them 'a' meaning here since before 1492 and 'n', meaning here since 1492. I suppose I should make it clear what native is, 'native' means anything that arrived to our shores naturally, by it's own steam. So the Collared Dove is native though it's only been here since the 50's and the poppy is not though it's been here for ±5000 years because it was brought by Bronze age farmers and the dove just flew here. Agg. means a species that is really a collection of species, the most notorious example of that been the Dandelion and Blackberry where there's hundreds of debated subspecies. Not all subspecies have been included and some not at all, but where I thought they were of interest or when one sbsp was native and another wasn't I've tried to include it. I have still to include other sbsp but may never get around to updating all. It's taken me weeks to do this update and months if not years to get the time to do it. I suppose you should ask the council what they mean by 'native'. Anyway as you'll see by the site there's hundreds of very garden worthy items to choose from. And you can get them from many sites which abide by Flora Locale's code of conduct including Emorsgate Seeds. But again check the entry since many offer invasive or none-natives such as Fox and Cubs, you wouldn't want to introduce that to your garden. By the way, you mentioned, Bluebells, sorry, didn't get time to read every post. If you live near other households that have Spanish Bluebells then I wouldn't get Bluebells since they hybridise so readily. The amount of times I shout and the telly when someone is encouraging us to get English Bluebells. It was the first and biggest mistake I made when I moved in here. A complete waste of time and  effort, though you could argue I'm supporting the growers, better to just make a donation for them to grow them. 

Odd Bod Bird

Posted: 26/04/2015 at 19:49

"I'm glad my daughter's not the only soft-hearted one "

Odd Bod Bird

Posted: 26/04/2015 at 19:32

I 'adopted' two feral pigeon brothers when I lived in london, they both had hooked beaks and looked more like raptors than pigeons, called them Kes and Perry. They did okay for a year then I had to go away one Christmas so wasn't around to feed them. I never saw them again. I hope it's because they were fed by someone else. 

bumblebee boxes to buy or not to buy

Posted: 26/04/2015 at 17:45

Yes, bumblebees like to nest in old mouse holes, they're attracted by the smell of the mouse and they like the nesting material. I've had several nest in mouse holes and one in a rat hole under my garage but they seemed to get confused when I opened the garage door. The point of the article is to warn buying bee boxes is a waste of money? I made a cavity in a dry stone wall I built and put in an old mouse nest but they bees weren't interested. I thought it would be ideal but they didn't. 

Odd Bod Bird

Posted: 26/04/2015 at 13:15

Yes, I'm sure it's a genetic mutation. Mustn't' be doing him any harm otherwise he wouldn't be around to take a photo of. Time will tell if the females are put off but the mutation is likely to be recessive so the chicks would look 'normal'. 

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