August, 2014

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Bugs, Birds and Beasts in the East

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  • Fiji Time required in Norfolk #OperationWildTimes

    Blogger: Adam Murray, Communications Officer


    Need a touch of Fiji Time

    With this glorious sunshine I am really chuffed with how our new wildlife and family friendly garden is bedding in. However, I definitely need a bit of Fiji Time mentality. What is Fiji Time? From my time working over there you quickly find out about the laid back, don’t stress about the things you can’t change, things will happen when they happen, kind of vibe. Honeymooning in Fiji I am sure this is perfect, doing business there though, some people are not fans.


    This attitude is what I need to embrace especially in this high speed, instant gratification world we live in. Growing a garden from scratch instils you with this go slow attitude. Just like those fair people of Aylsham a little closer to home. Plants do not grow instantly but what is amazing is that surprisingly quickly some of my plants that got a head start are doing brilliantly and the wildlife is already arriving.


    It is like something from Heathrow Terminal 5. As the swifts overhead are gathering before their last push off I am seeing the arrival of the flying bugs into my garden. After building a wildlife pond bees and wasps are already coming to the water’s edge to supp the cool waters before venturing back to their bijou apartment above.


    So maybe I need to give take a leaf out of the girl in our TV advert and wait and see what will continue to arrive.

    I can’t sit back on my “Fiji Time” laurels too much though as there is still much to do. Projects for this weekend include the log pile and giving hedgehogs a home. So watch this space and we will see if these little fellas, like our resident office hog below, take up their summer hols in Casa del Murray.



    Next Time: The ever expanding To Do List

  • The ever expanding To Do List #OperationWildTimes

    Blogger: Adam Murray, Communications Officer


    In the words of Mr Meatloaf 2, out of three aint bad. In other words, I am so nearly there with completing our wildlife garden that keeps everyone happy. Last weekend I referred back to the Giving Nature a Home guide that I downloaded for free here. Below you can see our progress so far in reaching that Nirvana state... 

    Step 1: Grow flowering plants

    I have a increasing rather than decreasing Flowers Wish List inspired by my recent trip to RSPB Strumpshaw Fen (just 20 minutes outside Norwich – have you seen the posters?).


    Step 2: Invest in a tree or shrub

    I am in a bit of a dilemma, good ol’ Mike-the-Landscaper was very generous and we now have not one but three trees in our garden, a cherry, apple and pear. I am a bit stuck about what to do with them – maybe a bit of “espaliering” is needed. RHS I need your help!


    Step 3: Give your mower a rest

    Our lawn was left to relax but now needs some TLC including edging. There is nothing more satisfying that getting a lawn edging spade, drawing out a perfect semi-circle and having some razor sharp edges. We are never going to have that traditional striped British lawn that Mrs M craves but this little bit of mossy, muddy green is still our very own. That is until the Little Chief put his small size 7s on my edges and broke them up. Next step “skip diving” for some old roof tiles to line said lawn.


    Step 4: Make dead wood piles

    Done (thanks to the guys at RSPB Minsmere) – bring on the stag beetles.


    Step 5: Make a pond

    Done – bring on the march of the frogs. Just need a bit of extra planning to make it feel like a watery haven. We are already seeing dragonflies buzz overhead like some rumbling Lancaster Bomber flyby.


    Step 6: Feed the garden birds

    Easy – and find more tips and FAQs here, especially during the winter.


    Step 7: Build a wildlife shelter

    This is not any old shelter this is a Casa del Murray wildlife shelter.


    Step 8: Create nature corridors

    So our little garden is now an oasis amongst the asphalt and high rising walls. Not only that but on one side of my garden is a 20 ft drop and the other is solid wall. So I am a little worried that hedgehogs and frogs will have to do some Mission Impossible style climbing to get into our garden. Next step – a friendly hole in the back gate.


    Step 9: Be green when you garden

    Ongoing - the battle between us and the snails continue – but I have a cunning plan so watch this space...


    Step 10: Tell us what you have done

    Done – have you enjoyed these blog posts, let me know if you have in the comments section below.

    I also have my ever expanding To Do list or let's call it a Wish List – all inspired by late night trawling on the web (you should see my Pinterest boards now) or visits to our beautiful nature reserves.


    • More nectar rich planting
    • Build a Compost Bin
    • The Shed Project – wildlife happy? CHECK; Mrs M and I happy? CHECK; Little chief & Little Gem – hmmmm, maybe not yet! So I need to find someone who is inspired to help me create a shed that holds gardening tools, lawn mower and bikes and then on top a comfy lounging deck that the kids can use as a fort too. Any takers?


    NEXT TIME: These are a few of my favourite things

  • These are a few of my favourite things #OperationWildTimes

    Blogger: Adam Murray, Communications Officer


    How are you coping with the summer holidays? A bit soggy around the edges as you dodge the thunder storms? Noticed that the roads are quieter and your usual haunts are “full of screaming kids”/children having fun? Or have you managed to get away from it all and enjoy some natural spectacles like the wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings?


    With my wife on maternity leave and a primary school teacher this is first and probably only year that we will not be following the crowds (and exorbitant holiday prices). It also means that we are staying at home taking a "staycation” (read the report from Visit England for more info) - in other words enjoying the wonders of East Anglia and most importantly our new garden.  


    So time for a “papa smirk”, a Murray-ism for when my dad has a cheeky knowing smug grin (some say he looks a bit like Papa Smurf too). Now that our lovely garden is nearly down, bar my never ending to do list, these are a few of my favourite things that I will be enjoying this summer.

    1.    Flowers blooming and succulents taking hold


    2.    Kid-proofing the garden

    3.    Adventure Play (any excuse)

    4.    Hunting for Bugs


    5.    Outdoor Living

    And these are a few things I would do differently

    I would probably do this whole project at a different time of year so that bedding in the new plants would not need so much watering. I am sure you would get more bargains in garden centres later on in the year too. I would also set out with any contractors what my level of attention to detail is like and whether they can meet that level. Also how do you test this before they start?

    Things you can do

    Whatever your favourite things are, and feel free to be inspired by the good and great Dame Julie Andrews, you too can make your green space work for you, your family, friends and your local wildlife. Why not take a look at the RSPB Giving Nature a Home web pages and Adrian Thomas’ blog for more info. Enjoy the rest of the summer and see what you can do to avoid the crowds and enjoy your own wildlife oasis however small it may be.