Series 2 – Gardening Projects

Series 2 – Gardening Projects – 2021
Project Willow Courtyard

Jeremy was here last Tuesday making some of the changes and alterations l talked of/about in the last episode [Project Willow Courtyard 4] In truth, there wasn’t a huge amount to be made, but all the same they needed to be done before the garden could move on properly.

The tasks were: …

Hanging basket brackets secured to wallTrellis backguards secured to wall
Second bee hotel put upNumerous bird and bat boxes put up.

… that was it …. nothing major, but things that needed to be done. I am not that good with power tools, l am getting better and more confident, but there are too many occasions when l climb ladders and come down again, just not the way descent is planned! Suze is better up ladders than l am, but she is not overly confident drilling into walls … Jeremy on the other hand is fine up ladders and with power tools in his hands at the same time.

Suze and l had also been busy in the garden last Wednesday and Thursday following Jeremy’s visit the previous Tuesday. I had purchased a block of plants and shrubs a couple of weekends before, however with all the heavy and heavier rains we had experienced after that, it had meant that gardening chores were on hold. So whilst the weather is not as great as it was at the time of the last episode, it was still better than nothing but, wet, drowning and just drenched and sodden!

There were things l had wanted to do, but many of the jobs were weather permitting and whilst l don’t mind working in the rain as in l can endure light showers for any task, there is a huge difference between being showered mildly upon over that of just becoming soaked through grim determination of staying out and getting things done. I am at times somewhat mad in and with some of my thinkings and thoughts – HOWEVER l draw the line at completely crazy with a capital K! Nothing pleasant about wet underdraws!

One of the smaller tasks of the day out this last week was to determine if there was an easier way of feeding the smaller birds and somehow make less mess in the process. I feed on average daily anywhere between 75 – 195 assorted birds or roughly around 19 species of birds from the very small wrens to the much larger seagulls. Of course l don’t deliberately set out to feed the latter, but they are an opportunist species as well as a scavenger who is always on the look out for tidbits.

The pigeon species – be these ferals, doves or woodpigeons and the crows and magpies are the next largest visiting and feeding species, albeit smaller than the gulls, but they tend to feed the majority of the time from the shelved tray secured to the wall and occasionally from the tray on the table. The smaller birds have a feeding station up towards the back of the garden.

BUT if these are empty the larger species then attempt to feed from the feeding station’s hanging feeders and usually with disastrous consequences [breakages]. So l wanted to see what could be done to alleviate any of the pressure the smaller birds were experiencing.

To alleviate the pressures to the smaller birds feeding stations – more flat bottomed feeding trays were introduced, which now means that the larger birds are not scaring off the smaller birds NOR having to hang off the hanging feeders and creating more mess on the ground below.

With the introduction of two extra flat bottomed feeding trays, it now means that more of the larger species are no longer fighting over the one tray on the shelf and it also means that the middle feeding species are no longer pretending to be sparrows and feeding off the hanging units. This also means way less mess on the ground below! It hasn’t really made that big an impact on the feed being put out daily or every couple of days especially not in comparison to the suet feeding which can no longer be filled daily due to the huge flocks of starlings that visit. But then the starlings also use the hanging units and the trays anyway!

Jeremy looked at the hanging feeding station and suggested the answer lay in replacing it with a bird table with hooks – so he will look into that as a possibility and said he had bits of wood at home that he could utilise to create a bird table for me. We shall see … l had been thinking of something a bit more sold for the garden also.

One of the jobs l made mention to earlier was the securing to the wall of the Trellis Backguards. Which you can see in the above photo. I have three slimline trellis units arriving this coming week which will be vertically secured to these three horizontal beams. Whilst it is as easy to secure the trellis directly to the wall, l have found that when you want to perform any maintenance such as pruning and trimming, or even tying that if you don’t have a little bit of leeway space the smaller tasks can take longer to actually achieve. So by having these three batons here, it means that l can get my fingers and or secateurs into the spaces more easily.

Additionally, you will be able to see that as l discussed last time, We have started to plant up and move into locations onto the wall our oblong troughs. Suze had fun creating and overplanting these ‘to be explosively colourful vibrant planters’ which l think will look stunning on sunny days as opposed to these three on an overcast one. They will also act as a form of deterrant for cats prowling along the walls trying to hunt the birds feeding.

Three are in position already, another two are to be planted and moved up. However with this kind of planting and adopting the overplanting strategy, you tend to use quite a few plants, so another trip to the nursery is needed which will probably be next weekend.

Young strawberry plants awaiting distribution and planting.

We have lots of young strawberry plants we can use which you will have seen in the previous episodes, already planted up and slowly maturing on the bench, but l also have other areas to plant up with these. In the very first photograph at the top of the post, you can see two such long planting troughs that have potted plants sitting on the soils awaiting their turn to planted properly. But also, there are quite a few new hanging baskets to be replanted and overplanted.

Overplanting as a technique is a new introduction to this garden for next year blossoms and flowers. Forward thinking also as in planting young plants but also sewing bulbs into the same pots. principally, it means to literally overplant a space with an abundance of growth and a continuous bloom. Many of the planters and the pots as well as the beds will experience this method this autumn [bulbs and trough/planters] as well as early next spring.

There are many benefits to overplanting such as ‘continuous blooms’, shaded soils meaning moister soils, keeps weeds to a minimal and apart from looking utterly fantastic it also means that there is very little bare ground visible’. The secret is getting the growth patterns right as in which will flower first as opposed to what flowers last being in a prime position.


There are very few downsides to the technique, but that doesn’t mean there are none …- two l can think of off the cuff are beware slug/snail attacks and don’t forget to water, more plants will drink more.

A great secret for mega success is the soil you use initially in planting needs to be really good. The soils we use here are compost rich and great growing mediums as they are produced in house.
6 Brackets for hanging baskets were secured to the walls on the left and right outside of the patio doors of the house, so that in total there would be 8 hanging baskets and some brilliant colours come the spring months of 2022.

There are to be a number of plants/bulbs purchased and used from existing stock for the hanging basket planters outside the back doors of the house near the seated area. These will be also great for attracting wildlife like butterflies and bees and other pollinators. Strawberry plants with their trailing fruits will be here alongside mints, fuchsias, nasturtiums, petunias, lobelias, ivy, geraniums and osteospermums some of which l trialled last summer in the two baskets l have. My focus for this area is for it to be filled with colours and scents.

4 birdboxes and 1 batbox were sited on the far wall down the garden sited just above the worm farms. There is no guarantee these will be used by resident species, but they might be utilised by migrational species as overnight/season stops. There are a few bats that visit the garden also currently – they might use the boxes, but it might also prove 1] to be too busy as a garden for either birds or bats to use and 2] because they are above the compost units and a wormery, it might prove too noisy. The three units that are here [compost/worms] are not frequented daily, but once a week – time will tell on these. the third reason for potential non-use might be that the boxes are too low.

A second bat box was sited closer to the house but nearer to the water butt in case this served as a feeding station as well as a resting zone. The bats that do visit the garden are pipistrelle which are very small indeed, but l quite often see them in the dusk time, flying low just above my head as they swoop in for insects. I am hoping the box below, might encourage bats to keep the mosquito populations down that seem to reside in this rea during the summer months.

Once the walled rose starts to growback at the bottom of the garden and we also begin to train the growings properly, these bird boxes should not be as exposed to the elements as they are now. More insects will be around and abound as well which l think will prove beneficial.

Two weeks ago when l purchased quite a few plants at the nursery, l selected from a fairly wide and diverse ranging and slowly they are being planted into the available pots but l will discuss our growing decisions in a later issue.

Not the most colourful of episodes perhaps to the series, but Project Willow is coming together slowly and l do believe that in later episodes the decisions Suze and l have made for the garden here will prove to be highly effective and above everything colourful. Anyway, thanks for reading – see you soon.

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24 thoughts on “Series 2 – Gardening Projects

  1. Hey, Rory! My, you’ve been busy! I’m thrilled with all the special features you have incorporated in your garden for wildlife. I do miss having the interaction with such precious little critters. Thank you for sharing this experience with us all. Wishing you a wonderful week ahead. 😊

      1. Just today. 😊

        So happy for you to have the opportunity to create such a joyful setting by providing shelter and nourishment for so many little ones. I can just imagine all the happy tweets, chirps, chatter and squeaks of appreciation and how lovely it will be in the spring! 😊

  2. 🤔 Hmm. Those are a lot of bird-houses, Rory. They will attract lots of birds (Which is something that I believe you want).

    However, those birds will help themselves to the worms in your worm compost; thus crashing your business (Which is something that you do not want).

    Do enjoy the rest of your day, my friend.

    1. Hey Renard – my worm farms are covered.

      However, due to the very nature of the worm farms and the way l treat my soils here to be naturally rich in ‘earthworms and other microbes’ – wildlife, birds and small creatures are never short of smaller invertebrates anyway.

      The bird mixes l provide also have mealworms to them so they have those also. But the main bulk of my breeding is under cover. Like most worm farms there are always escapees – that’s life though 🙂

        1. I used to love creative fiction reading – these days, my main passion is reading document types and learning topics.

          I used to read hundreds of books a year when younger till around 4 years ago and it was a great hobby, now l am too tired to read for pleasure in the evenings 🙂

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