Animals, Bird Baths, How To, Wildlife, Zoe

The long awaited Big Garden Birdwatch has finally arrived this weekend – hooray! With this handy guide we will teach you how to make an irresistible bird feeder no sparrow could refuse!

Many of us may notice our little visitors in the garden, but do we really know what kind of bird it is? Luckily for you, our beautifully illustrated infographic may help you identify even the most exotic of species! Top marks if you manage to spot a Chabert Vanga…

The best way to entice any guests is of course with a free buffet, and in this blog we suggest a fantastic range of treats and scrummy dishes no bird could refuse.

Dangerous Food for Birds

However if you want to feed wild birds be careful that it is safe, the following cannot be used to feed wild birds:

  • Spoiled seed – make sure the seeds you put out have not started rot. It should be dry without any strong odour.
  • Large quantities of bread – although filling, bread does not contain any of the lovely goodness that wild birds need in their diet.
  • Milk – Avoid leaving out milk for your birds, many experts claim this will make them ill.
  • Cooking fat, margarine & vegetable oil – These are all unsuitable for birds.

Ingredients Needed for Your Bird Feeder

Now for the fun stuff!

It is SUPER easy to make your own bird feede, and it’s a fantastic activity to get the whole family involved and share in the joy when you spot a red breast in the garden.

Firstly, you will need to get your hands on some lard. This is a great glue that will bond all your ingredients. You want one part lard to two parts of your bird seed.

Next, you can pick and choose what treats you want to include for your birds. We suggest the following, with a brief description of what birds love this treat the most:

  • Millet – sparrows, dunnocks, finches, reed buntings and collared doves
  • Flaked maize – blackbirds
  • Peanuts & Sunflower seeds – Tits and greenfinches
  • Pinhead oatmeal – All birds love this!
  • Nyjer seeds – goldfinches and siskins.
  • Cooked rice – All birds lap this up
  • Mealworms – excellent protein source for many birds

You can also add some grated cheese, dried fruit and much other variation of seed in your unique mix!

Now you have binded the lard and your bird seed you will be able to mould this into a variety of different shapes to catch the eye of birds or as a interesting activity for your children. This is a great alternative to shop bought fat balls that often come in nylon bags that are very harmful to birds that get their beaks or feet trapped in them!

Coconut Shell Bird Feeder

Mould Ideas for Your Bird Feeder

  • You can use a halved coconut shell to fill with your bird food; make sure there is no traces of coconut milk left in this shell however.
  • Orange peel! Remove the fruit from the skin of the orange and, like the coconut, fill to the top with the food for a vibrant feeder.
  • Pine cone – roll the pine cone in your lard and seeds for a more decorative feeding treat.
  • Toilet roll – yes really! Once you’re left with the toilet paper roll you can roll this in the seeds for an innovative feeder for the birds. (Be careful in wet weather as the cardboard will begin to disintegrate)
  • Cooker cutters – fill your cookie cutters with the mix and leave them to harden in the fridge.
  • Or be creative and create a shape of your own!

Once you’ve made your treats place them in different areas around your garden to attract a range of birds, and remember to consider the little birds that will need low hanging treats.

Have fun this weekend, and be sure to send us your photographs to photos@primrose.co.uk, we’d love to see them!

Zoe at PrimroseZoë works in the Marketing team at Primrose, and is passionate about all things social media.

After travelling across Europe and Asia, Zoë is intrigued by different cultures and learning more about the world around her. If she’s not jet setting, Zoë loves nothing more than curling up with a good book and a large glass of red wine!

She is an amateur gardener but keen to learn more and get stuck in!

See all of Zoë’s posts.

Children in the garden, Gardening, Guest Posts, How To

How to Teach Children to Garden

Children are very sceptical when their parents try to get them involved in the gardening work. Instead of all the fresh herbs, salads and vegetables, most kids associate gardening only with the hateful broccoli and turnips which their mothers often serve for dinner and claim are very healthy. Adults may find planting and maintaining a garden satisfying and delightful, but kids truly dread it when they are made to do chores like weeding and pruning. Yet there are a couple of things you can do to introduce your child to the bright side of gardening and plant the love of nature in their heart. Take a look at the following ideas and learn how to make gardening pleasant and exciting for your little angels.

1. Provide Them with Their Own Garden

Kids are more confident when they have their personal workplace. Designate a small area of your garden or at least a pot or two where your children will be able to plant whatever they want and then take care of it. Go to a garden centre together and choose plants that are sure to grow in your garden – after all, there is no point in purchasing seeds because the plant is your child’s favourite colour if the conditions in your garden are not suitable for it to bloom.

2. Choose Plants That Will Be Interesting to Kids

The more interesting the greenery is, the more impatient your kids will be to plant the seeds and produce many cheerful veggies and flowers. Here are a few examples of plants that will be excellent for a child’s garden:

Nasturtiums. These pretty flowers have many advantages – they are not only lovely and edible, but will also attract plenty of butterflies and birds to your garden, which will surely please your angels.

Sunflowers. These are great because younger children will be really impressed by the speedy growing of the sunflowers. Take a notebook and a measuring tape to write down the height your plants reach on a weekly basis.

Vegetables. Fast growers are preferable as they will keep your kids’ interest and will not make them wait too long before getting results. Beans, tomatoes and potatoes are good ideas as they will bring lots of joy to the children when picked and cooked.

Gardening with Children

3. Give The Garden a Theme

Your kids will be much happier gardeners if they have the opportunity to plant things they personally love in their own garden. Veggies for pizza and salsa, or herbs like peppermint or basil are excellent choices. No matter what your children will choose to plant – tomatoes, peppers, onions or parsley, or everything in one place – as long as you can provide the growing conditions required for one of them, all the others will grow as well. Pizza herbs and veggies need the same temperatures and amounts of water and sunlight. Allow the kids to grow their favourites and you will see how happy and determined they will be to pick the healthy produce.

4. Prepare for Next Year

Once you have shown your kids how pleasant and easy hobby gardening can be, they will probably be interested in helping you around the garden next year, too. After they have learnt how to plant and grow their favourite greenery, you will do good to teach them how to collect their seeds. When the season’s end approaches, store the seeds in a dry and cool place to allow the children to practice their new hobby again next year. You can also ask them to join you when you are preparing your garden for the winter and explain to them every step of the process.

Everything is better and more pleasant when it is done with your favourite people, so share your affection for gardening with your kids and be proud of the devoted gardeners they will become under your guidance.

Heather RobertsHeather Roberts is a freelance guest blogger from London, United Kingdom. She has got many published articles on various topics such as gardening, patio maintenance, home organizing, green living etc. She loves to spend her time with family and friends and she also tries to live an eco-friendly life.

Cat, Celebrations And Holidays

Babies in the garden can be a tricky issue. Whilst it may seem straightforward to just have your toddler or little crawler in the garden with you, there are plenty of dangerous situations they can encounter.

In celebration of the birth of the royal baby, we at Primrose wanted to share our safety for babies in the garden tips with the couple. If you’ve got a toddler or young children coming round for the first time, it might be prudent to do a risk assessment of your garden, too.

  • Buckingham Palace GardensWhilst Buckingham palace gardens contains vast spaces of perfectly cut grass, there are balustrades framing the large patio area. Do you have any areas a baby’s head can easily get stuck in? Check your fencing!
  • Water is intrinsically linked not only with royal gardens, but most gardens in London feature a water feature or a pond area. What about your garden? Is your pond secured to stop the little angel from investigating it too closely?
  • The royal gardens are maintained by an army of landscapers, but most of us look after our own gardens. How well do you know your flowers and plants? Any poisonous plants? Deadly nightshade, lords and ladies, certain laburnums can all cause problems if eaten.
  • St James's Park Lake – East from the Blue BridgeWe’re sure that the royal baby will be well looked after by people concerned with giving it just enough sun, but we all know life doesn’t always work that way. An easy way to protect your child from the sun’s harmful UV rays is a shade sail which also wards off the rain during those frequent summer showers.
  • We’re sure every parent wishes to have a royal butler’s assistance once in a while, even just to tidy items away. Garden tools often contain sharp edges and your little one can easily sustain an injury. Put them in the shed!

What are your garden safety tips? What have we missed out on?

wedding-meCat works in the marketing team and is responsible for online marketing, social media and the newsletter.

She spends most of her time reading about a variety of interesting facts, such as oddly named Canadian towns, obscure holidays and unusual gardening.

She mostly writes about Primrose news and current events.

See all of Cat’s posts.

Animals, Children in the garden, Guest Posts, Nicole

Bee on sunflower
Today we went on a wildlife hunt in our garden but the only luck we had was getting a snap of a bee on our sunflowers. Not to be discouraged with finding so little besides the bee and our usual feathered companions we took the search further even looking for those pesky slimy plant munching pests aka slugs and snails, the idea being that we could see who found the biggest but my boys soon lost interest.

Venturing beyond the garden we took a walk to our local loch, bread in hand in hope of seeing the pair of swans which frequent it alongside the ducks. After trekking up to it battling endless hills (my town is built on hills and I’m sure everywhere we seem to go is an uphill climb) then having a little break to play in the local park we finally arrived at the loch ready to see some wildlife at last but the swans weren’t there!
Moorhen on loch
Thoroughly disappointed we threw the bread in anyway. My boys looked as downcast and downtrodden as the photographer next to us who must’ve trekked all that way for a picture to leave empty handed. The reason for the swans’ absence is perhaps the amount of dog walkers around because our local swans aren’t too keen on dogs at all.
Young moorhen chicks
Not wanting to see my boys so unhappy I decided we were not leaving until they got to see something… anything! After carefully explaining to them to get comfy, stay still and stay quiet we all waited patiently. It wasn’t long before something started moving among the reeds then ventured out for a nose, my boys were delighted! It wasn’t the swans but a collection of wee birds (I think it could be a moorhen and maybe it’s young?) we watched them run along the water and were rewarded with one of them coming up for a close look at us.
Butterfly on flower
Finally my boys were happy and we set out for home managing to get a picture of a lovely butterfly on the way. Tired from our wildlife hunt we reached our gate and were just about heading upstairs to our house when my neighbour shouted us. Curious we followed her into her garden and my boys kneeled down to look where she was pointing. Lo and behold there was a wee toad! Needless to say it made their day and ended our adventure with me thinking that maybe we should’ve just asked our neighbour for a look round her garden instead!Wee toad in neighbour's garden

Nicole