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Blog Posts (6)

  • The Delightful Daisy

    Bellis perennis, commonly known as the common daisy or English daisy, is a popular flowering plant belonging to the Asteraceae family. It is native to Europe and western Asia, and has been introduced to other parts of the world as an ornamental plant. In this blog, we will explore the distribution of the common daisy, the insects that use it as a food plant, and its unique floral structure. When I say distribution I don't mean all over your lawn. I am of course referring to it's global or geographical spread. I once visited a garden where the "lawn" was little more than moss with some fine leaved grasses in patches that was mown to within an inch of it's life. The chap proudly announced that 'Any daisy shows its head in here, and the mower comes straight out.' The image above shows quite clearly what he was missing out on. Not only that, how much must he hate bees? Distribution of the Common Daisy: The common daisy is a widespread plant, found across Europe, western Asia, and parts of North America. It is commonly found in grasslands, meadows, lawns, and roadside verges. The plant prefers well-drained soil and full sun exposure. Green shows natural distribution. Purple shows introduction. Insects that use the Common Daisy as a Food Plant: The common daisy is an important food source for many insects, including bees, butterflies, and hoverflies. Bees are the primary pollinators of the plant, and the nectar-rich flowers attract many different species of bees, including bumblebees, honeybees, and solitary bees. The leaves of the plant are also eaten by the larvae of some moth species, such as the grey pug and the small white wave. Floral Structure of the Common Daisy: The common daisy has a unique floral structure that sets it apart from other plants in the Asteraceae family. The flower head, which appears as a single flower, is actually made up of many small flowers called florets. Each floret has a yellow disc in the center and white petals around the outside. The yellow disc contains both male and female reproductive structures, while the white petals are sterile. Similar flowers Two other native UK wild flowers are oxeye daisy and corn chamomile. Their flowers are both similar in structure to the common daisy, though the plants themselves set them apart from the low growing daisy. We are all familiar with the tight rosette of oval, ground hugging leaves that form the common daisy plant. The oxeye daisy Leucanthemum vulgare has an oval leaf also but with a more serrated edge. They also grow to 50cm plus which is way beyond the scope of our delightful daisy. The corn chamomile Anthemis arvensis, has feathery slender stems. It is also an annual and is usually found in recently disturbed land. The other two are perennial and prefer not to be disturbed. The common daisy is a beautiful and important plant that supports a diverse range of insect species. Its unique floral structure is fascinating and highlights the complexity of the natural world. Whether you come across it in a meadow or in your own backyard, take a moment to appreciate the beauty and importance of the common daisy. By all means show children how to make a daisy chain, but don't be the idiot who gets the mower out and cuts off all the heads so there's no food for our important insects. John Grundy established Wilderness Tamed in 2012 after working for the National Trust for six years. Combining horticultural knowledge with conservation and habitat management skills a niche business offering wildlife friendly gardening services. Specialising in ponds, wild flower meadows and lawns as well as broader habitat maintenance. John also travels extensively teaching the art of scything.

  • Incorporating native wild flowers into a herbaceous perennial border.

    How to attract more wildlife to your garden using native plants as well as exotics. If you've been wondering how to use native wild flowers more effectively in your garden then the answer is here. It doesn't always mean turning one corner of your garden into a wild untamed messy plot, that you soon lose interest in. Many of our native wild flowers are highly decorative, scented, and hardy enough to withstand whatever our weather can throw at them. From tall majestic spires, umbells and gently waving stems to compact ground cover plants, our native flora can fill any niche. So read on, get inspired and start planning what changes you can make in your beds and borders. It's so easy to grow native plants. Let's be totally honest, they've been around long enough, they can adapt to anything. Field scabious, yellow loosestrife and achillea blend together perfectly in a mixed herbaceous border. Sow the seeds where you want them to grow. Buying seeds of individual species is the cheapest way to go. But plug plants work just as well and give you a slight head start. Sowing most perennial native seeds requires a minimum of effort on your part. slightly disturb the soil with a hand fork, hoe or rake. Scatter a pinch of seed. Firm in (press the seed onto the soil surface with the back of your hand or a flat piece of wood) then go and have a cuppa. You've earned it. Any time of year is fine but optimum germination will happen between March and October when the soil is warm. Jacob's Ladder is a fine native perennial. Growing in wood edges and hedgerows as well as open meadows. Many hybrids are available but you can't improve on something nature has already perfected. What do you want from your garden? I want to relax more, do less weeding and enjoy my garden. Ask yourself what your priorities are for your garden. Attracting more wildlife should be up there in the top three. Purple loosestrife throws up tall spires of deep magenta flowers. Perfect for the back of a border along with spiked speedwell (seen in the background) delphiniums and lupins. It all begins with the soil. A decent loamy soil is ideal for most native and exotic plants, but if you have clay, sandy or chalky soil don't give up. Research what species will tolerate those conditions and spend money investing in what will thrive rather than wasting money on what will die. The plants you choose will have an effect on the insects that visit. they in turn can attract other wildlife. Birds, amphibians and reptiles and small mammals. Your challenge as a wildlife friendly gardener is to create an ecosystem in your garden. One in which the wildlife contributes to the overall management of the space you share together. Meadow Clary is a multi stemmed free flowering native that blends well into a herbaceous perennial border. Bees love it! So what do you do after the seeds go in? You sit back and wait. It's incredible how quickly native plants will establish and flower. They contribute massively to an already established herbaceous perennial border. I'm not one for large blocks or drifts, as used to be the fashion in garden design. Nature doesn't really operate that way. Dot in new plants in a more random array. Pinpoints of colour dappled throughout your border will create a more natural looking meadow style theme. Greater knapweed is a stunning native perennial that flowers for months attracting butterflies and bees. How do you maintain your native wild flower border? A simple cut down at the end of the year, just as you would do in any herbaceous perennial border. Obviously I use a scythe, but shears can do the same job. Even hedge cutters. Be careful if you've used stakes or canes to support some of your exotic perennials, such as delphiniums. Remove these before wading in and cutting everything down. Remove all the cut plant matter and compost it. Shouldn't take too long depending on the size of your border. Then I would recommend another cuppa. Because you're worth it. Where do you get your native wild flowers from? Well, you can get them from Wilderness Tamed of course. There's a variety of individual species, as well as blended mixes, that do well in most soil types and provide nectar for pollinating insects. They also look stunning in a border. Buy yours here now all picture credits go to me John Grundy. Taken in my own garden and some of my customers gardens. Top image shows native wild carrot and vipers bugloss in an established border. John Grundy established Wilderness Tamed in 2012 after working for the National Trust for six years. Combining horticultural knowledge with conservation and habitat management skills a niche business offering wildlife friendly gardening services. Specialising in ponds, wild flower meadows and lawns as well as broader habitat maintenance. John also travels extensively teaching the art of scything.

  • Why Do I Need A Pond?

    If you have to ask that question, you really really need to read this. Of all the vital features that should be incorporated into a garden, the pond is top of the list. You will benefit, trust me on this, I'll explain more as we go on. But also the creatures around you will enjoy the pond as well. A pond increases the range of plants you can grow in your garden. Sweet! A pond reduces the amount of lawn you have to mow every week. Bonus!! A pond attracts birds without the expense and mess of putting up feeders. Boom!!! A pond creates habitat for a range of invertebrates and amphibians. Nailed it !!!! As I've mentioned in some of my Youtube videos, as well as in other pages on this site, all our houses are built on what used to be valuable habitat for wildlife. Maybe yours was built on an old brownfield site or an over grazed horse paddock. Perhaps some scrubbed over waste land was cleared to make way for your estate. Maybe (like they've done for HS2) an ancient woodland or wildlife trust reserve was ploughed up so that some greedy developer could squeeze in as many shoddily built houses as possible. OK, now that we all feel really guilty about the roof that's over our heads, I'll elaborate on why a pond is incredibly important for wildlife and ourselves. I briefly listed the benefits to wildlife up above and we've established that our homes are built where once was a paradise. As least a paradise to a select variety of species. Yes, even a scrubbed up wasteland provides a place to live for a range of insects, birds, small mammals and possibly reptiles and amphibians. So as a wildlife friendly gardener, like what I am, we all need to think about repaying those species with a space they can share with us. Ponds have been declining across the globe, not just in the UK. Ponds and wetlands have been lost to development in building, agriculture, infrastructure and drainage schemes over the last one hundred years with a noticeable rapid increase in the last twenty years. All this human activity puts pressure on the natural world. Gardens need to be reimagined as the next nature reserves. Let's face it, they're in no short supply. So how does this help you? From my own experience and the testimonies of many of my customers over the years, having a pond or two in your garden makes the space so much more relaxing. The water need not be moving either. None of my own ponds have pumps or filters in them, moving the water round. Just the sunlight shining on the water can transfix our gaze and take our minds away from the stresses of daily life. I have three ponds at home and one sits right next to my decking. I have spent hours swinging in the hammock on the edge of the deck, staring into this shallow pond watching the numerous newts, courting and feeding during the Spring months. Frogs will bask on the pond edge in the grass chilling out with me during the summer. Dragon and damsel flies drift about on sunny days looking for other insects to hunt and places to lay their eggs. I have even had a water shrew come through on occasion, investigating the ponds for food in the form of tadpoles and invertebrates. Birds enjoy bathing in the ponds and I do have a heron visits in the early spring. It does take a few frogs but to be honest I haven't noticed a massive decline in population. The larger pond hosts about sixty to seventy adult frogs per year. This is a purely natural part of the food web and so the heron is left to it's own devises. If it were a cat however (Not native to the UK) I'd be out giving chase. Being next to water is something even the most street hardened cynic can enjoy. We naturally gravitate to water in all it's forms. The sea, rivers and streams, ponds and lakes. Who doesn't enjoy a picnic by a rivers edge or overlooking a lake. Watching the sunset over the ocean with a drink in our hands. So having even a small water feature in our garden can help massively with calming our souls. Watch this short film of a pair of palmate newts courting in my pond and tell me you haven't found it enchanting. Especially the bit where the second male comes barging in. Much like the ponds out in the countryside don't have pumps and filters, your garden pond needn't either. Yet naturally occurring ponds seem to be able to remain clear and look healthy and filled with life. How do they manage that without a filter system? As mentioned before in other videos and lessons, balance is the key. A good mix of plant and animal life will contribute to keeping a pond crystal clear. Plant roots are a natural filter. Their roots guzzling up nutrients that would otherwise build up to unhealthy levels in the water. Invertebrates help keep the pond clear and tidy of leaf debris by munching away at rotting vegetation. Water fleas (Daphnia) feed on single cells of algae to prevent blanket weed choking the pond. Look again at the video above and notice how many daphnia are drifting about in the water......There's thousands of 'em! So the key trick to having a very low maintenance pond is balance. Having a good selection of different plants, invertebrates and amphibians is essential. The video below shows an adult frog and tadpoles enjoying the clear, warm shallows of one of my garden ponds. The margins are densely planted with a range of native plants. DO NOT INTRODUCE FISH. Fish will create more mess than they clear up, require a filtration system fed by a pump, needing electricity to run it, increasing maintenance and they will also eat most of the plants and other wildlife in the pond. Even the little sticklebacks we fished for as kids in our local streams and ponds will cause havoc in a small garden pond. Steer clear.

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Other Pages (26)

  • A gallery of past scythe courses |

    A gallery of past scythe courses Just a few pictures from training courses I've ran over the years. From National Trust properties & Wildlife Trust reserves across the country to local community groups and garden associations.

  • Risk Assessment | Wilderness Tamed

    Scythe Risk Assessment Below is the link to the actual risk assessment document. This includes all possible hazards you may encounter while out in the field learning to mow with an Austrian scythe. Also covered are environmental hazards such as reactions to vegetation and insects. Scratches, stings, bites etc. Not many people will have seen a risk assessment for scything before. Pretty sure back in the day, I was the first person to write one for the National Trust. It has been refined since then to encompass different venue types and groups. Risk Assessment Insurance Everybody needs it these days and scythe instructors are no different to any other tutor, instructor, guide, guru, or teacher. Thanks to the Pole-lathe turners & Green woodworkers for their dedicated public liability insurance cover up to £5.000.000. ​ ​ insurance document

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