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Jim Macd

Latest posts by Jim Macd

attaracting birds to my garden

Posted: 27/02/2015 at 18:59

This was last year, it's looking great at the moment with the snow drops out and crocuses just coming through. I knew I should have got the camera out today.

This is looking through the Hazel Copse

 And in summer.

 I can't tell you how many more insects you'll get if you get hold of some native grasses. Emorsgate Seeds, sell, them and some native wild flowers. The birds will have a field day feasting on all the insects that will be living on them. That list I link includes willows. Some willows are much better than others. I have some white willows which hardly get touched by insects some years, but other times get stripped while the goat willow is eaten alive and the blue tits go crazy picking off all the caterpillars. This is why in the past my catch phrase has been 'There's more to wildlife than pollinators'. It's fine having exotics that provide lots of pollen but where's all the food for the birds? Anyway make your own mind up.  

By, the way, some of the Pansies are still going, not in flower, but everyday the Wren goes over them picking off whatever it can find. They're pretty much Viola tricolour, another native.  


attaracting birds to my garden

Posted: 27/02/2015 at 18:24

Just one of the best things you do is plant a mixes, native hedge, or plant a nice, native silver birch or two. I've got a lovely Birch copse that's always teaming with blue tits. Take a look at a thread I've just added about a list of beneficial trees and shrubs.   Since I moved in 5 years ago my neighbour, an RSPB member, can't stop saying how pleased she is with the work I've done. She says there's never been so many birds in her garden. She puts out heaps of bird food too. So that for me makes all the work I've done worth every spadeful of soil I've dug planting. I took out 22 conifers the first couple of months, she thought I was the devil incarnate then. She didn't understand my plan. She could only think 'Cover'. Oh, By the way, as well as the Sparrow Hawks that regular vista, and the owls of course, we even get a Hen Harrier. I nearly died when I saw that. The neighbour hasn't seen it yet though, probably all my trees getting in the way.  


Thinking of adding wildlife benefit to your garden with trees or shrubs?

Posted: 27/02/2015 at 18:13

Most people interested in ecology have heard of Sir Richard Southwood and his 1961 work on British Trees and Shrubs and their associated insects. I remember memorising the list as a student. But not everyone knows his 1961 work was updated, twice, first in '84 to include mites and lichens and again in 2006. The 2006 update is so much more useful. It always frustrated me that the '61 work was merely an indication of diversity without really describing it's benefit overall to other wildlife in real terms, i.e., insectivores and, subsequently to predators that feed on them etc. Take as, my favourite example, the native Field Maple and the introduced Sycamore. The associated insects for the Field Maple is 26 while the Sycamore just 15, almost half. Yet anyone that knows the Sycamore will know it's covered in juicy greenfly and mites etc.. Consequently Sycamores have had a really bad press since they're quite invasive. A quick look at the updated data, however, shows that the Biomass of the Sycamore's foliage invertebrates is given a 5 star rating as opposed to just 1 star for the native Field Maple. Now, I'm sure nobody is suggesting plant loads of Sycamores but it's reassuring to know that they aren't so bad afterall, and when you take into account Mychorizal Fungi, Wood decay fungi, Wood decay inverts, Leaf litter benefit, Blossom for pollen and nectar, Fruits, Seeds and Epiphite community then it comes in an incredible third place after Native Oaks and the Birches. Very impressive indeed for a non-native!

Well, you can take a look at the data and the original text. I have entered it into various tables it can be sorted according to the different, above, criteria.

I have to admit I've not had a chance to have it proof read so forgive me if there's any mistakes, but you can check it yourself against the original text. By the way, I suggest you have a look at the text before making any decisions based on the data anyway. (The text is also linked on the above page.)

Thinking of adding wildlife benefit to your garden with trees or shrubs?

Posted: 27/02/2015 at 18:09

Oh, sorry, I seem to have added that twice. Sorry. 

Filtering the water of a newly made wildlife pond

Posted: 27/02/2015 at 17:25

By the way, if you pond is for wildlife, the last thing you want to do if to filter it. 

Filtering the water of a newly made wildlife pond

Posted: 27/02/2015 at 17:24

What I've done with my pond is to attach the overflow from my water butt to a pipe I buried, the pipe then pops up just to feed into the pond. I also added a 'T' junction to that pipe so I can empty the whole water butt into the pond from the bottom tap. Essentially I can can refresh the whole of the water in the pond in 4 normal showers. If the water looks a bit cloudy I just empty one of the water butts. It works a treat. I couldn't attach both butts directly so I just run the hose out to the butt that sits on the drive. The nutrients don't get a chance to build up. By the way, great plants for stabilising soil are Salad & Great Burnet they've got very fine roods and salad burnet is great in salads as well as being a native evergreen.

Inarching update

Posted: 19/10/2014 at 18:12

You're welcome Dove, glad you found it interesting.   

Inarching update

Posted: 16/10/2014 at 16:28

Just to show they're still doing well and not a too embarrassing crop for a small tree, Picked a couple already but this one's best left until November. It's thrown up another sucker too. I'm letting it grow so I can take it off in the winter hopefully it will have some root of its own. Nice to graft something interesting on then give them away to friends.

I just noticed those nasty snags. They've been there since I bought it. I'm off to tidy those up.   

Wild Garlic

Posted: 29/09/2014 at 17:37

If they're Ramson, then the bulb is shaped like squid and of course smells strongly of garlic.




Looking at this photo is making my nose twitch and my mouth water. I love them and can't imagine ever having too many, that would be like having too many black truffles. If they are Ramsons then use them in your cooking or sell them to the gastropubs in spring. 

Grape Hyacinths are starting to grow now and the bulbs are round.

Mirabelle de Nancy plum

Posted: 06/08/2014 at 19:14

Yes, not to be rude, but yes, the answer is, I'm sure, just pollination. If you don't have flowers then you won't get fruit, if you get fruitlets but they all drops off then it's stress of some kind. If you don't get any fruitlets forming and you've had flowers then it has to be pollination. Don't forget your cherry plum will flower very early in the year when there is very few pollinating insects about. I had cherries on my Prunus incisa for the first time this year in over four years of beautiful shows of flowers, why?, I cross pollinated it myself with a feather duster, not to pollinate the P. Incisa but to get pollen from it for other early cherries. Prunus Incisa if you don't know it is flowering beautifully by the second week in March up here in Durham while most other things are still fast asleep. Anyway, the point is no bees, no cherries unless you do the job yourself. Yes, a pollinator will help but if you don't have bees no matter how many pollinators you've got you'll need to do the job yourself. We have lots of Cherry Plums in the hedgerows up hear and get a few plums each year but I'm sure we'd get orders of magnitude more if there were more bees about. And no, apples won't help in the least, they're not nearly closely related enough. 

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