Tuesday 7 April 2015

Progress report for March 2015!!

March 2015 at Cordwood

A summary by a compulsive list-maker!

A few days of spring weather now make this account seem like ancient history!

Rain fall was slightly above average over the month for Nottingham but the early part of March was dry with most of the rain falling after 27th. The dry spell was made worse by a desiccating wind.

45mm month Cordwood total - above average rainfall (average for Nottingham in March is 37.6mm).

This information reinforced how ‘dry’ we are in the east of England: nationally rainfall averages 65mm in March. 

No records but the persistent cold wind made the month feel chilly and slowed the arrival of spring.

Freezing temperatures made it the UK's joint second coldest March since records began more than 100 years ago, the Met Office has said.

Trapping began in earnest this month with eleven species recorded. Yellow-horned and oak beauty (pictured) were highlights.

Linda spotted a Brimstone on the 7th but no other positive identifications. ‘Dark’  butterflies (possibly peacocks emerged from diapause) were seen briefly on a couple of occasions but not identified.

The first tree bumblebee (bombus hypnorum) was seen on the 6th and the first early bumblebee (bombus pratorum) (pictured) was seen on 17th.

Toads were regularly seen around the garden and four lots of frogspawn were recorded with first three in the pond on the 16th. Our first ever at Cordwood!

Grey squirrel, mole, wood mouse and hedgehog were recorded on site. Lots of evidence of hedgehogs on the lawn from the middle of the month. A hedgehog feeding station was set up on 24th with food taken daily thereafter: our first siting was the 31st. We followed a badger up Lamins Lane late on the evening of the 14th.

40 species were recorded at Cordwood during March with two lists containing 32 species. Three complete lists were uploaded to BTO Birdtrack.
The high numbers of goldfinch (70), chaffinch around feeder (14) and wood pigeon on lawn (71) recorded in February are now behind us. Watching 19 redwing on the lawn was a highlight; with 19 also the highest count of fieldfare overhead. We have maintained our share of the 55 million pheasants that are released in the UK for shooting each year with a male on permanent walkabout and up to eight hen pheasants being attracted to the seed cast from the bird feeders.
Tree sparrows were seen prospecting for nest sites at two of our nesting boxes. 
My birthday bird feeder (positioned by the privet hedge facing our front door) attracted greenfinches in increasing numbers. A growing number of stock doves are now seen beneath the sweet chestnut bird feeders and at at each of the large open fronted bird boxes. This reflects the higher numbers recorded nationally by the BTO.
Judith and Rogers bird feeders were busy too.

1. Development
Woodland garden edge ‘Green Lane’ perennial planting largely complete in February, plants were labelled and watered due to dry conditions.

The ‘thug border’ between the log wall and the flower meadow was dug over, composted, planted and mulched with ‘thugs’ that will thrive in the challenging conditions there:
  • shasta daisy
  • golden rod
  • aster calliope
  • g. Macrrorhizum ‘Bevans'
  • g. Phaeum

Our first ‘prairie bed’ at the edge of the lawn (approx. 82m2) was dug over and dressed with compost and manure during the month. 
In the first phase of planting 56m2 was planted with:
  • Ice Plant (Sedum spectabile)
  • Yarrow (Achillea filipendulina 'Gold Plate') 
  • Cone Flower (Echinacea purpurea)
  • Globe Thistle (Echinops Vitro)
  • Michaelmas Daisy (Aster laevis 'Calliope')
  • Daylily (Hemerocallis)
  • Korean Mint (Agastache rugosa 'Liquorice Blue')
  • Inula magnifica
  • Astrantia major
  • Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum 'Broadway Lights')
  • Loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata 'Firecracker')
  • Globe Artichoke (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus)
  • Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris 'Ravenswing')
  • Bergamot (Monarda 'Cambridge Scarlet'
And ornamental grasses:
  • Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)
  • Tufted Hair Grass (Deschampsia cespitosa)
  • Golden Oats (Stipa gigantea) 

The final 16m2 which lie beneath the sycamores will be planted in April.

A curved, gravel board edged path (pictured) was completed to separate prairies beds 1 and 2.

Jill’s 60th birthday magnolia grandiflora (a present from Trev and Linda) was finally planted in ground cleared in ‘the birthday border’.

The entrance was cleared, levelled, gravelled and planted. Grass seed was sown and sandstone blocks positioned.
  • Rosa Kiftsgate 
  • rosa Dortmund
  • Clematis Montana against entrance sycamore
  • Clematis jackmanii & white macropetala
  • Honeysuckle on one of entrance posts

The ground by the container was cleared with rubbish taken to the tip.

2. Maintenance

Lamins boundary in the woodland garden - hollies and berberis darwinii were transplanted to create a better screen and cotoneasters were cut back. Barrowing of chippings to Woodland Garden paths was completed. Beech planted where plants had been lost in screen by Wizard tree. Snowdrops were fed with a little pelletised chicken manure.

Arisings from perennials in vegetable garden were shredded.

Poo Pete delivered two loads of horse muck and Nathan added to our chippings pile on the road to our annex in readiness for mulching Jills mounding and completing the Himalayan birch mounding.

All buddleias were pruned.
Crimea boundary hedge was nipped back to chest height and removal of brambles competing with hedge plants begun. 

Hay that should have been taken from the orchard after Mike and I scythed it in the  summer was finally removed!

March saw the drive finished. The gates remained an issue as one fell off! The access control allows those with a keyed or fob in, but only those blessed with a fob can leave. Not ideal! 

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