Category Archives: conservation

Friday Frogs

I’ve been keeping my eye on the small wildlife pond in the back garden for signs of awakening. When I was topping up the bird feeders this morning I spotted a single frog in the back corner. When I went out to collect the laundry basket in at twilight, there were four.

I was so excited, but by the time I went back with my camera only three were there. It’s clear to see that there is a male piggy-backing on a female, so I hope there will be frog spawn very soon.

As happy as I am to see the emergence of my wildlife friends in the garden, I also feel quite sad. This time of year usually sees many amphibians squashed on the roadside, as they sluggishly make their way back to their breeding ponds. If you live near toad breeding areas, you might find the Toads on Roads campaign helpful. So please take care in your cars and on bikes to look out for frogs & toads crossing the road.
Frog Toad crossing

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Inspirational planting plans

Some 3 1/2 years ago, I took the boys to visit the Centre for Alternative Technology in the northern reaches of Mid Wales. I had wanted to go for a while, and I have wanted to return ever since – what a fantastic day out.

A chance to see the working of a retired old MS-2 turbine
A chance to see the working of a retired old MS-2 turbine

Built on the site of an old slate quarry, the C.A.T. seeks to put a positive solutions-based approach to reducing our impact on our wonderful planet earth. There are lots of interactive displays and zones to help bring to life issues of sustainability through education and fun. Not only did I find it engaging, the boys did too, and that’s a really important thing in the quest for sustainable living.

Educational displays on composting, including the worm slide that leads to the bowels of the worm's earth
Educational displays on composting, including the worm slide that leads to the bowels of the worm’s earth

I suppose what I remember the most is the organic gardens. Now that I have time to design and implement some changes at the allotment, I looked back through our holiday pictures for inspiration. This photo was the key to my planting plans for 2014.

Companion planting in the organic gardens
Companion planting in the organic gardens: leaf amaranth with poppy ‘Ladybird’ alongside nasturtiums, lettuces and oregano

Co-planting flowers and vegetables as companions will be the main theme in our allotment beds this year, particularly after the Phacelia / Broad bean success last year. And I managed to track down a trusted supplier of edible Amaranth seeds (and Gardener’s World magazine will be shipped with a packet of ladybird poppy seed in next month’s March edition). More about the Real Seed Catalogue tomorrow (also in Wales!) but for now, some lovely pictures from an amazing day out.

Interesting vistas and group planting around every corner
Interesting vistas and group planting around every corner
Advice in action - saving the planet's natural resources
Advice in action – saving the planet’s natural resources
Recycling old materials into ponds and planters
Recycling old materials into ponds and planters
Planters with vegetables in every corner
Planters with vegetables in every corner
Information regarding the food cycle
Information regarding the food cycle
Edibles gardens
Edibles gardens
Creative play facilities for children of all ages
Creative play facilities for children of all ages
Climbing nets on the wooden play course
Climbing nets on the wooden play course

 

"There is only one thing more painful than learning from experience, and that is not learning from experience" Archibald MacLeish
“There is only one thing more painful than learning from experience, and that is not learning from experience” Archibald MacLeish

The aesthetic of growing plants in a multitude of containers and situations might not be to everyone’s taste, but I love it. And it’s been great to see it incorporated in the ‘Veg Street’ community vegetable growing project in a North London borough started by Naomi Schillinger and others. See the book here.