Animals, Blog Series, Gardening, Gardening Year, Gary, Wildlife

Garden Weeds

September is the time of the year where things start to cool down, the wind picks up and the days get shorter. This is the month to get started on your preparation for spring whilst enjoying your garden as much as you can before the frosts come in. 

General 

 

  • Net ponds – protect your pond before leaves begin to fall 
  • Clean out water butts – keep your irrigation in the best condition in preparation for autumn rains 
  • Clean ponds and water features of weeds – Remove duckweed, pondweed and algae from water features and ponds
  • Collect and bin brown apples and pears – reduce the spread of this fungi and protect your good crops 
  • Order bare-root fruit trees – to plant later in autumn or winter

Plants 

  • Divide herbaceous perennialsensure healthy, vigorous plants in the spring
  • Collect and sow seed from perennials and hardy annuals opportunity to increase the number of plants in your garden for free
  • Plant spring-flowering bulbs –  daffodils, crocus and hyacinths are a priority for the end of the month 
  • Sow hardy annuals –  cerinthes, ammi, scabiosa and cornflowers should be planted now  for flowers early next summer
  • Deadhead container plants –  encourage more blooms and keep your patio displays longer into the Autumn 

Wildlife 

  • Wash and disinfect bird feeders and tables – maintain good hygiene on your tables and you will see birds throughout the winter
  • Plant nectar-rich bulbs –  crocus, snake’s head fritillary, alliums and grape hyacinths can be planted now to feed next year’s hungry emerging bees
  • Start putting out fat balls – help those birds staying for the winter
  • Leave garden borders intact – don’t cut these back in autumn. Try to leave at least one border intact where seedheads can provide food for birds and fallen stems can create shelter for amphibians, insects and small mammals

 

Blog Series, Clocks, Decoration, Decorative Features, Garden Design, Gary, How To, Outdoor Living, Planters, Water Features

A well designed outdoor space can be just as satisfying as a new kitchen or cosy living room, but getting a complete look can be difficult when decorating outside. You can easily redesign a space with a few simple changes, without having to hard landscape or make changes to the structure of the garden. We’ve pulled together three classic garden designs to inspire you to recreate your space with minimal effort.

Moroccan Riad 

The Riad has been a feature of Moroccan architecture since the Roman era. Typically a Riad is a small tiled courtyard dotted with large plants with a pool of water or a fountain in the middle. It’s a space to relax and escape the trials of the day, and it’s an easy look to achieve in a few simple steps. 

  • Choose the right colours – the backbone of the Riad is vibrant, but cool colour combinations .White, blue and terracotta should form the backbone of your space, with some splashes of yellow and turquoise to tie the look together
  • Keep it symmetrical – these gardens are a mixture of a personal oasis and formal garden, keep it as symmetrical as you can to achieve an authentic, and impressive look
  • Make use of rugs – this is a space to relax and entertain in comfort. Traditionally, soft furnishings like rugs or cushions are dotted around the space to soften it.
  • Pick the right plants – space-filling plants that give off strong perfumed scents are the key to getting this kind of space right, lavender and rose bushes mixed in with olive trees and ornamental grasses would be a great selection for the authentic feel.
    Shop the look : 

We’ve put together a selection of accessories that we think would be the great jumping-off point to creating your own Riad garden. This combination of planter, water feature, rug, and chiminea all compliment each other well and could be enhanced with Moroccan style stool

 

Italian Riviera 

 

The tightly packed villages, stone facades and well-manicured gardens of the riviera were the inspiration for some of the finest artists of the renaissance and the ideals of the enlightenment still shine through in their design today. These gardens are refined, elegant and relaxing. They’re also deceptively easy to create: 

  • Make the air smell of citrus – Sicily and the Italian coast are known for their lemons and oranges as much as they are for their tranquillity. Plant a few lemon trees in containers to get the look and smell of a summer on the shores of the coast of Genoa 
  • Select tough plants –  this area of Italy is known for the muted green colours of its plants. Rosemary, Cistus, and myrtle are great options to plant in containers alongside olive trees and pink climbing roses to get that refined look 
  • Don’t overlook statues –  evoke Italy’s romantic and classical history by adding some statuary to the garden. A few well-placed statues amongst your plants really create the look of a formal garden on the grounds of a large manor
  • Build the space around a pergola – shaded areas and canopies are a staple of Mediterranean garden design. If you can why not fill the centre of your garden with a pergola wrapped in wisteria that brings that grand touch to your design 

Shop the look : 

Our version of this classic garden design brings together all the classic elements of statuary, large planters, citrus trees and ornate wall decoration together to create that classic cool style. We’ve chosen to shade our garden with a sail shade rather than a pergola to make this design achievable in any space. 

Spanish Garden

Spain is the number one holiday destination for the British, so why not bring that feel and style into your garden.  A Spanish garden is a place to eat, entertain and relax with friends. The look is simple to achieve and can be made to work year-round if done correctly: 

  • Plant to impress – flowering vines and climbing roses are must-haves for the authentic look. Train them to climb a wall, fence or pergola and you’re off to a great start. For added fragrance, plant jasmine, oranges and  scented heirloom roses to complete the effect
  • Create a shaded space – the siesta is an important part of any day, and if you can it should always be done in the garden. Put a small shaded area into your space with a pergola or sail shade, hook up a hammock, and you’re ready for your midday nap. 
  • Combine the old and the new –  Spain has one of the oldest cultures in Europe, and the old country villages that dot its countryside are familiar to anyone who has visited. Capture this traditional look by adding aged or distressed pieces into your garden. 
  • Make use of railings – small window boxes edged in cast-iron railings are a common sight

 

These are just a few ideas on simple ways to improve your outdoor space. If you like these designs and want to see more, check out our website to see the full range of products we have picked out. We’d love to see what you’ve done with your space on Instagram or Facebook

 


Images Courtesy of:

 

Ruth, S | Gill, L | Rosemary, B | Rachel, E | Diane, R | Trisha, S | MR Evans

All About Garden Birds, Animals, Birds, Megan, Wildlife

Welcome to our next post in our garden bird series. Today we will be taking a peek into the lives of chaffinches, one of the most common finches seen in British gardens. Their colourful plumage and loud song make the chaffinch unmistakable and unmissable in terms of bird watching. To find out more about the common chaffinch, read on!

All About Garden Birds: Chaffinches

What Does a Chaffinch Look Like?

The common chaffinch, latin name Fringilla coelebs, is a small passerine bird, or perching bird, that lies in the finch family, alongside goldfinches.

juvenile chaffinch
Juvenile Chaffinch

The male and female chaffinch both have white stripes on their tails and wings, but they differ greatly in colour. Males have strikingly coloured plumage, with a blueish-grey cap and copper underparts. The vibrant colours of the males’ feathers become even more pronounced during breeding season when they are attracting the more plain looking grey-brown females. Juvenile chaffinches resemble the female but are smaller in size.

Where Will I See Chaffinches?

Chaffinches are not migratory birds, so you will see it in the UK all year round. You will find them in woodlands, hedgerows and parks as well as in your garden.

All About Garden Birds: Chaffinches

The chaffinch is present in most of Europe, Asia and northwest Africa and was introduced from its native Britain to many of its overseas territories in the latter half of the 19th century. It is one of the most common and widespread birds in the finch family.

When Do Chaffinches Breed?

Males start defending their breeding territories as early as February, but breeding usually begins in late April. It is largely dependent on the Spring temperatures, occurring earlier in the south and later in the north. Breeding can continue until as late as July.

Mating begins by the male attracting a female to his territory with bird song. Three out of nine calls present in the chaffinch during the breeding season are courtship calls. The first two, “kseep” and “tchirp” are made by the male to facilitate pair formation and the last, “seep”, is a call that signals acceptance from the female. Interestingly, during the winter months when breeding is over, the number of calls diminishes from nine to only two for each sex.

chaffinch perching on a tree branch

Once paired, the female will build a nest with a deep cup in the fork of the tree. Nests are often very well camouflaged and difficult to locate to the untrained eye. Nesting materials include grass, moss, cobwebs and lichen, and the nest will be lined with feathers and rootlets.

Clutches typically consist of four to five eggs and are laid in the early morning at daily intervals. Eggs vary in colour, from off-white with brown spots to blueish-green. They are incubated for around 14 days by the female before fledglings hatch. Young are fed by both male and female before flying the nest several weeks later.

As chaffinches like to nest in trees, it is worth putting up a bird box that will help encourage breeding and may attract chaffinches to breed in your garden.

What Do Chaffinches Eat?

During breeding season, chaffinches feed mainly on invertebrates, feeding insects and caterpillars to their young. They search for their prey by foraging in trees and may even be seen catching flying insects in the air. Other invertebrates in their breeding season diet include spiders, earwigs and aphids.

chaffinch pecking at the ground

Outside of breeding season, chaffinches eat seeds and also feed directly off of plants. They are ground feeders, so you are likely to see them feeding off seeds that have fallen around your bird table. You can always invest in a ground feeder too if you would like to see more chaffinches in your garden.  

Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed finding out about chaffinches in this post! Keep a look out for the next in this series, where we will be taking a deep dive into dunnocks. If you’ve missed out on any post in these series, check them out here:

Robins

Collared Doves

Blue Tits

Goldfinches

Megan at PrimroseMegan works in the Primrose marketing team. When she is not at her desk you will find her half way up a hill in the Chilterns
or enjoying the latest thriller series on Netflix. Megan also enjoys cooking vegetarian feasts with veggies from her auntie’s vegetable garden.

See all of Megan’s posts.

All About Garden Birds, Animals, Birds, Megan, Wildlife

Often kept in captivity in the 19th century due to their bright colouring that attracted a great deal of human attention, the goldfinch is thought of as one of Britain’s most attractive wild birds. To find out everything you need to know about goldfinches, as well as how to attract more to your garden, read on.

Goldfinch perching on branch

What Do Goldfinches Look Like?

The goldfinch is a vibrant and uniquely coloured wild bird, making it easy to spot in your garden. It has a black and white head with a red face. The body is buff to chestnut brown, with black and yellow patches on the wings. Males and females are very similar in appearance, with the female having a slightly smaller red patch on its face.

Two Juvenile Goldfinches
Two juvenile goldfinches

Juveniles have different colouring from adult birds. They have a plain face rather than a red face and a grey body. However, they still have the unmistakable black and yellow wing stripes.

Are There Different Species of Goldfinch?

The European goldfinch, Carduelis carduelis, is a species of bird from the genus Carduelis, part of the finch Fringillidae  family. The species is not to be confused with the American goldfinch, which is part of a different genus. There are 12 species of finch which inhabit the UK, including the chaffinch which we will cover further on in this blog series.

Goldfinch opening it's wings

There are 14 different subspecies of the European goldfinch. The subspecies found in the British Isles is the C. c. britannica.

Where & When Will I See Goldfinches?

Goldfinches are more abundant to the southern England, although are found throughout the UK aside from parts of the very northern parts of Scotland. The birds can be spotted all year round, however some flocks may migrate south during the colder winter months.

Goldfinch on tree

Orchards, gardens and heathlands are just some of the environments goldfinches will inhabit. More generally, they will be present wherever there is rough thistled ground and scattered bushes.

When Do Goldfinches Breed?

Goldfinches breed later than most wild birds; breeding begins in late April and continues until August, but can go on until September if it is still mild. On average, goldfinches attempt 2 or 3 broods, with clutch size spanning from 3 to 7 chicks. Males and females share parenting duties throughout this time.

Goldfinch perched alongside flowers

The male goldfinch attracts a mate by putting on a unique display, involving characteristic mating calls and swaying from side to side. After attracting a mate, nesting will start. The female takes on the role of building the nest, which will usually be sited in a tree or shrub. Nesting materials include grass, mud and roots and the nest will be lined with softer materials such as moss and cobwebs to insulate. The outside of their nest is often adorned with lichen in order to camouflage it from predators.

Eggs are pale blue and lightly speckled. Once laid, they will be continuously incubated for 10 to 14 days by the female. Once hatched, the chicks will be fed regurgitated seeds and plants by both parents. They will fly the nest after about 15 days.

What Do Goldfinches Eat?

Goldfinches mainly feed on seeds, and are especially fond of nyjer. If you want to put out nyjer seeds in your garden, ensure you buy a feeder specially designed for these smaller seeds, as they will fall out of regular seed feeders. Sunflower hearts are also a favourite.

Feeding goldfinches

Goldfinches also feed off seeds of small plants, such as dandelions and groundsel. The long, slim shape of their beak also makes them experts at feeding on thistle. Planting teasel, which has an attractive pink flower that is also appealing to bees and butterflies, will provide an extra source of food for goldfinches too.

As they eat mainly seeds, goldfinches need to drink more water than other species of wild birds. Ensure you provide a fresh water source, such as a bird bath or water feature. If you have a cascading waterfall in your garden, don’t be surprised to see goldfinches enthusiastically bathing in it!

Be sure to stay tuned for the next instalment of this series, where we will take a look at starlings. If you missed the last in the series, be sure to check it out, as we examined the collared dove which is a lesser known species of garden bird.

Megan at PrimroseMegan works in the Primrose marketing team. When she is not at her desk you will find her half way up a hill in the Chilterns
or enjoying the latest thriller series on Netflix. Megan also enjoys cooking vegetarian feasts with veggies from her auntie’s vegetable garden.

See all of Megan’s posts.