The Garden

We are rurally situated, out in an area of mixed farmland and woodland, about 4kms west of Rathdrum, (inland Wicklow), before you reach the serious hills. Nevertheless its about 2 or 3 degrees cooler in winter than the Wicklow coast and we seem to catch very strong winds on a west facing slope. 

 The garden covers about 1 acre or so, and we have been tending to it for nearly four years now but most of the  plot is still in grass, not quite a lawn though!  The garden is framed by mature hedgerows on two sides of the plot, with a good mix of trees, such as Sycamore, Ash, a couple of Oaks, Elder with Holly, Hawthorn and Blackthorn in for good measure, an old fashioned Irish boundary hedge. The trees have plenty of ivy, too much in some cases but I retain as much of it until it appears to reach the tops of trees and cause damage. 

The newly planted areas consist of a hawthorn hedge on one side, planted from inexpensive 'quicks' with guelder rose and spindle mixed in for variety and some groves of young trees such as Larch, Alder, Birch and Rowan.  We cultivate vegetables as time allows and have planted up three or four beds with a mix of perennials to provide nectar and attract pollinators as well as please us! We havent put a pond in yet but will look at that maybe in the coming months..

High Summer: Daisies, Goldenrod, Crocosmia and Giant Oat Grass under  the Birch tree

Outside our boundaries we are surrounded by arable fields, spring planted with wheat or barley, so retaining a stubble in winter with another in oilseed.  The local  forestry plantation is fairly mature and also has some wonderful oak tucked into it and closer to home we have a wet woodland of willow and birch, much loved by the Sika deer, of which more anon! 

Sika deer inspects the summer meadow

The butterfly bar: daisies, sedums, Russian sage, lavender & verbena in hot, dry conditions

 I suppose you couldn't really ask for more in a garden context, we have regulars such as Buzzards and Red Kites overhead, Jays pop by for a nut treat, though you would be hard pressed to find a Jackdaw or Rook in the garden.. they stick to the farmland.  Blackcaps breed very close to us but I have never seen one in winter, the wintering population prefers a more suburban habitat and is proof if it was needed at all that the breeding population goes back to winter in Africa and the birds that winter with us summer in northern and central Europe. 

Pheasants take refuge through the winter

 In winter we provide the birds with scraps, Peanuts and mixed seed in a few hanging containers; the emphasis is on keeping them full or at least operational rather than provide a big variety of food.. Chaffinches, Blackbirds, Coal Tits, and the other Tits are our most numerous visitors in winter.

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