Showing posts with label Gardening. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gardening. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Mantis Tiller Review

 

Mantis Tiller ReviewSpringtime and the warmer weather will be here soon.  The warm weather will finally bring us outside to start cleaning up the yard. It's a time to get the deck or patio in shape, clean up the lawn furniture and get ready for a beautiful summer.


Once the yard is cleaned up, you’ll want to get the flower beds and garden ready to plant.





This usually requires a lot of digging, bending, and raking. I can’t think of a better tool than the Mantis Tiller/Cultivator to help you with all of this work. Well, you’re still going to have to do some work, but this tool makes it so much easier.


I’ve had my Mantis Tiller for more than 10 years now, and it still runs like it’s brand new. I’ve used it year after year to till my garden, flower beds, and around shrubs.


 We planted a brand new garden for my daughter, and it easily tilled through the untouched sod. The handles just fold down and the Mantis fits in the trunk of my car or stores easily in my garage.


Mantis Tiller Features:


Easy fast start technology.

Comes with a handy carrying handle.

Weighs only 21 pounds so it's easy to move around.

A 9-inch wide pattern for digging and weeding.

Tines dig down 10-inches for cultivating.

Reverse the tines for weeding and only dig down 2-3-inches


What I like the best is that the tines pull off of the shaft with a simple pull of a cotter pin, and can be reversed for two different jobs. One position is for cultivating and will dig about 10 inches deep for planting your flowers or plants in your vegetable garden. The other position will only dig 3 to 4 inches deep, this is really handy for easy weeding around plants and shrubs.


My Tiller also has the border edger attachment with a wheel; this makes short work of edging around walkways and the driveway for that nice clean look.


A few years ago my outside drains were clogged with mud, and not draining, causing the rainwater to just settle around the foundation of my house. 
I decided to abandon the old drain on the side of the house that was clogged and replace it with a new PVC pipe to the street. This required me to dig a trench from the edge of the house to the street a total of about 30 feet.


So, short of digging this trench with a shovel and pick, I used my  Mantis Tiller to do the digging for me. I set the tines in cultivate position and shoveled the dirt out as I went along, this made the job so much easier.


You can also buy these attachments for the Mantis Tiller for complete lawn care:


Aerator - Will cut tiny slits in your lawn to allow nutrients and water to reach roots.

Border Edger -  Make nice clean edges around sidewalks and driveways.

Dethatcher - Will remove dead grass early in the spring to promote growth.

If you have a garden, and flower beds and like to keep a neat lawn, I highly recommend The Mantis Tiller Cultivator.


Find more Product Reviews here: ReviewThisProductReviews.com


Find more Gardening Tips here: ReviewThisGardening.com





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Saturday, February 6, 2021

The Spider Plant As A Houseplant Reviewed

 

Spider Plant With Spiderlings

I have grown up with spider plants or Chlorophytum in the house for as long as I can remember. My Mum always had at least six spider plants in the house all with a myriad of little baby spider plants hanging from the parent in glorious abundance. 

My Mum was a true master of caring for houseplants so that they grew healthy and abundant. All I knew as a child was that they were pretty and indestructible! 


Spider Plants In Our Home

Now I have six spider plants in our home, one in the bathroom, one in the living room, one in the bedroom, two in the dining room/study and one in the kitchen! I could have many more and probably will over time. In the meantime, I give away the little baby spiderettes potted up as gifts.

All mine are variegated, though you can buy all green ones as well. Four of mine are young plants taken from the parent so they do not have any offspring yet. I think they really brighten up a room!

Two are more mature and have beautiful little spider plants or spiderettes hanging down from the main plant. You may need to wait a while for the plant to mature enough to have offspring and a little patience will reward. Once you have a mature spider plant you will always have more! 

 

Mature Spider Plant With Many Spiderlings!

Where To Site Spider Plants.

As when I was a child these plants remain pretty indestructible! Ideally, they like well-drained soil and light but not too sunny position. They do prefer a slightly cooler environment, so I never place a spider plant in direct sunlight on a sunny windowsill or directly above a radiator.

In winter with the central heating on it can be a little more difficult to keep them cool, but as long as they are not directly on top of the radiator or heat source they seem to cope. They are the easiest and most forgiving plants I have ever looked after. 

If any of the leaves go brown I just gently pull them out and if the tip of the leaves only goes brown I just snip off with a pair of scissors. 


Young Spider Plant 

Watering And Feeding Spider Plants

They do need watering well but also like to dry out between waterings. I have a tendency to overwater but this can lead to soggy roots and make them very sick.

If this happens I have found the best thing to do is to take the plant out of the pot, allow it to dry out a little, then repot in fresh dry soil, then water normally, meaning lightly. All mine recovered this way but you do need to catch it early or the plant will be sick.  

The best thing is not to overwater in the first place and always let the soil dry so it is just slightly moist in between waterings. 

The opposite issue is if they get too dry. If this happens you will see them visibly droop and the leaves will start to go yellow and then brown.

 This is easily remedied by giving them a light watering over several days. It may also be advisable to mist them now and again if you know the atmosphere in your home is dry.

If they get to this stage of drought, it is better in my experience not to give them a big drink all at once as it seems to overwhelm them a bit, rather just a small drink to begin.

Then simply pull or trim off any dried leaves and the spider plant will look good as new.  You will soon see them perk up again! 

So with normal care, they respond to watering only when necessary, allowing any excess to drain off and then leaving it until the top of the soil feels dry before we water again. 

We can feed spider plants but they do not need it very often. Mine get a feed perhaps once or twice a month, only in the growing season of spring and summer when I remember and they are fine with that. Any general houseplant feed will do in either liquid or granular form. I give them a far weaker solution than is recommended on the bottle as too much feeding can result in browning of the leaf tips. There is no need to feed in Autumn and Winter. 

I only repot when the original pot has become obviously overcrowded. You will either be able to see the roots on the surface or bursting out of the bottom of the pot, or it will be so congested it becomes tricky to water them.  Then it's time to just pot on into the next size pot into compost that will drain well. This should only be necessary every two to three years.


 


How To Propagate Spiderettes!

I do love the name Spiderettes! Usually in spring when daylight hours increase they start out as tiny white flowers on the parent plant and then develop into a fascinating mini spider plant attached to the parent with a long stem. They can remain like this as they grow bigger for a long time and do look beautiful. 

However, I have found it best to propagate at least some of them before they get too large or too many of them and drag the parent plant down. The one in the first photograph now has a lot of young and really needs some spiderettes propagating this Spring. 

Propagation is so easy. Simply prepare a pot with well-drained soil and without detaching the spiderette from the parent, lower the spiderette roots into the soil, cover and keep watered. Once you see growth and roots developing well, you can snip the long cord from the parent. You can make so many new spider plants by this method! 

Alternatively, if when still attached to the parent, there are already good strong roots visible on the spiderette, you can snip it from the parent plant and pot on by itself. 

When spider plants are very young they have a more upright habit but as they mature they tend to hang down and so I like to place them on a bookshelf, cupboard or shelf so that they and their spiderettes can show off to their full glory.  

They also look great placed in lovely natural macrame baskets that can be hung in the house. This can make them look even more special. 

I like the white macrame baskets which make them stand out and pick up on the white variegation of the long leaves. This is a lovely selection of macrame baskets to suit many hanging houseplants and spider plants would love them. 

 

 


If you don't like macrame then a hanging pot like these  La Jolie Muse Planters in a speckled white colour is lovely to pick up on the white stripes in the spider plant leaves and will look modern and beautiful.

They are lightweight enough made of recyclable plastic and stone powder to hang with a beautiful spider plant inside. These planters come with drainage holes and a water reservoir to ensure that the plants get what they need. 


 


Spider Plants Are Good For Us! 

Spider plants are well known to be a cleanser of the air inside our homes.  It is a great idea to have one in every room. Our homes have more pollutants and chemicals than are good for us from everyday cleaning products to our technology.

Many of us do not open windows and ventilate homes enough especially when it is cold in winter and central heating can dry out the air. 

I especially like to have a spider plant in the bedroom and also in any room where we use technology. They are perfect for a home office.

Houseplants are fantastic at absorbing carbon dioxide and giving out oxygen and some are very good at cleansing the air. Spider plants have been shown in tests by NASA to be able to clean formaldehyde for the air. Tests were conducted under sealed conditions and those tests showed that one plant per 100 square feet would be required.

However, in the less controlled and much more changeable environment of our homes, this may be a bit different. I think if we have a spider plant per room it can do no harm and only help towards a healthier environment for us.   

Spider Plants are a great house plant gift for anyone starting out in their new home or for a student going to University. They cope admirably with conditions that are not quite optimal for them and can amazingly survive a degree of neglect. 


 Young Spider Plant With A Small Spiderling


They are one of the few plants I do not worry about when I go on a two week holiday and ours were all perfectly fine when we went away for a month once. 

I just watered them well in the weeks beforehand and left them in a shady spot.

If you would like pretty, low maintenance, evergreen and interesting all-year-round houseplant that is healthy for us and looks especially good where it can cascade down from a high surface, or in a hanging basket, then spider plants are well worth considering. 




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Tuesday, December 29, 2020

6 Ways To Help Wildlife In The Year Ahead

 

Butterfly On Wild Flowers By Raintree Annie

If one of the things you would like to do in the New Year is to do more to help our precious and often at-risk wildlife here are six easy ideas reviewed.

Even if we do just one of these we will be helping wildlife and nature. Do all six and your garden could be transformed into a wildlife haven in less than a year! 

In our gardens, balconies and patios we can all do one thing for wildlife and make such a huge difference. Some of these ideas are very easy indeed while others require a little more thought and time but all are fun and not difficult for most people to achieve. You may well find children enjoy being involved in many of these activities as well.

 

1. What To Do With The Old Christmas Tree 

I hope you had a lovely time at Christmas and an attractive, decorated Christmas tree.

We will keep ours up in the house for a little while longer but now is the time to think about what to do with it once the time comes to take it down.

I find it quite depressing to see all the Christmas trees outside people's houses ready to be taken away by the refuse collectors, of no more use to the neighbourhood. 

I do not like waste and feel there is a better way to recycle our old Christmas trees long after they have given us so much happiness. 

Making a woodpile with the chopped branches, creating a stumpery, shredding it and using the shreddings for mulch or even just laying it down in an undisturbed area of the garden for habitat and shelter all help our gardens and our wildlife.

What Do You Do With The Old Christmas Tree discusses more uses for our old Christmas trees.  

 

2. Don't Be So Tidy in The Garden! 

This may be an easy one to follow! However, I understand many of us like to have a neat and tidy garden, all edges carefully trimmed, leaves gathered up and all weeds eradicated. There is something very pleasing about a neat and tidy garden. However for nature, for wildlife they need us to be a little messier in our gardens.

Wildlife view our gardens as s source of food, warmth, shelter and breeding sites so they look for leaves, woodpiles, shrubs, water and long grass to name a few. 

There is a way to have a mainly neat and tidy garden and to help wildlife though. Messy does not have to mean ugly.

A small log pile can be made attractive to us and useful for wildlife, leaves left in borders or in a small pile out of the way are an invaluable source of shelter and food and just leaving things a little less manicured can be a boon to nature generally. 

We can easily designate a small area of the garden where we allow it to be a little wilder. In fact, I think a garden that aims to attract wildlife is especially beautiful and full of sound and sights and life. 


Diary Of a Wild Country Garden. Are we Too Tidy In Our Gardens? Raiintree Annie 


If you decide to do this you will reap the benefits in terms of seeing more birds, butterflies and bugs and attracting more insect and bird predators to your garden to help you with the pests and diseases all gardens have to deal with. For more ideas please see Are We Too Tidy In Our Gardens? 


3. Provide Water For The Birds 

Perhaps the most important thing we can do for birds is to provide water. Birds need water to drink and clean their feathers. This is vital for their health and wellbeing.

It is also something that fewer homes provide. Many people think about feeding the birds but less think about the need for water and bathing. Do You Have A Bird Bath In Your Garden? discusses this further with tips to help our beautiful birds. 

As long as the water is clean and fresh and ideally we need to change it every day or every few days, it does not matter too much what the container is. 

However, many of us choose to have a lovely looking birdbath or a cute novelty birdbath to make our gardens look gorgeous while assisting the birds. You can find beautiful examples here Reviewing Basalt Birdbaths 

In addition to beautiful birdbaths, I  also use plastic saucers on the ground on our patio to help the smaller birds like these gorgeous sparrows in my garden. I know other wildlife like hedgehogs and squirrels visit the water as well. 

 

Sparrows Bathing by Raintree Annie

One of the main pleasures to us of having a birdbath is to watch and photograph the gorgeous, beautiful, fascinating birds every day from the comfort of our own home.

I like a variety of birdbaths around the garden and so we have several beautiful birdbaths and these ordinary saucers placed around the garden so that the birds do not have to compete for water and bathing rights! 



4.Leave An Area Of Long Grass 

This is an easy one to fulfill if you have a garden with a lawn. Simply designate one area of the lawn and do not mow it all. 

Rather than taking action to help wildlife, this one is all about inaction! Do nothing and wait and see what happens to that small patch of long grass.

It will be interesting to see if you grow any wildflowers or clover. See how liberating it can be to grow daisies and dandelions and how insects love them! Watch out to see if your long grass attracts bees, butterflies or hoverflies. 

It's easy, free and a very simple way to help wildlife especially insects. It does not need to be a big area, just what you feel you can allow to grow a little wild.  

If you do want to take it a step further and grow some wildflower seeds, you will need to take up some of your grass as grass will generally out-compete the wildflower seeds. 

Simply strip the grass away, rake the soil into fine tilth, sow the seeds according to the seed packet and wait for them to grow. The only work you will need to do then is to cut back the wildflowers in autumn.


5. Grow A Window Box For Wildlife

We do not all have big gardens and lawns and may wonder what can we do to help wildlife when we live in a flat or apartment or a house with a hard landscaped yard.

However, if we have a balcony, room for a hanging basket, a window box or a small patio area for pots we can undoubtedly attract and help wildlife. For more ideas on how to attract wildlife in a smaller space, please see Can You Attract Wildlife If You Only Have A Patio Garden Or Window Box

It is amazing how butterflies, bees, lacewings, hoverflies and ladybugs will find their way to your window box given the right flowers and conditions. 

 Depending on where you live you may need to protect the container in winter. If you are gardening on a balcony, always bear in mind the weight of any containers when filled with soil and plants does not exceed what the structure can take. 

A simple container is all we need. You can fill your window box with flowers both perennial and annual or decide to grow vegetables, it is up to you. 

Some flowers are better for wildlife than others, but really as long as the plants have some flowers the insects and bees will find them. 

Flowers I have found successful in window boxes and hanging baskets and troughs include bright cheerful Marigolds along with Nasturtiums and evergreen Ivy for trailing. Verbena, Fuchsia in a bigger pot and Heather are lovely. 

You do need to give Heather acid or ericaceous soil so it will need to be mixed with other acid-tolerant flowers. I also like to put in a few dwarf yellow daffodil bulbs to cheer up the containers.

If you like you can grow wildflowers in a pot and I have done this for several years. You do just need to make sure that the soil is very poor as wildflowers, in general, need poor soil. I use old compost and lots of grit in my wildflower containers. Bees and all manner of insects adore these wildflower pots! 

I love to grow herbs such as Rosemary and Lavender and Chives do well also in containers. I would give most herbs a try in pots. Good for us to eat and great for wildlife. Bees seem to always love my Chives!



Your container can easily look good for you and be good for wildlife. You will want some evergreens like Rosemary or Heather there and other summer flowering perennial and annual flowers for interest and nectar for as long as possible.

For ideas on making a healthy balcony garden please see Totally Natural Healthy Ways to Increase Your Garden's Growth - A Garden Review


 


6.Give Nature A Home 

One lovely way to attract and help wildlife is to give them a home to live in and raise young. Whether it is a Bird Box, a Bee House, Insect House or a home for hedgehogs it is possible for everyone with any outdoor space, however small to contribute. Here is an idea for a lovely Birdhouse For Eastern Bluebirds 

Over the years many habitats that our birds and insects require to live and breed have been lost. Houses are built without space for birds to nest, grass that is artificial is useless for wildlife and there are fewer places left for bees and bugs to live, hibernate and breed. 

However, if we all do a little we can help to reverse this and give our valuable wildlife a home. 


 


If you love nature and know adults and children who would like to do more for wildlife you may wish to buy nature-related gifts for Birthdays, housewarmings and special events this coming year. For ideas please see Wildlife Gift Ideas Reviewed






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Hope for a New Year, Sunflowers Plant of the Year for 2021 A Garden Review

Everyone I know has had enough of 2020, so even though Christmas is still a day or two away, it's time to look forward! 

There seems to be many authorities on Plant of the Year for 2021 and I know we all need something to look forward to, so I'm going with the authorities at the Winnipeg Free Press!  They (and I agree with them) have dubbed 2021 the Year of the Sunflower!


There is so much about sunflowers that I just love and I'm going to fill you in on just a few of them.

  1. They are easy to grow from seeds.
  2. They will grow without any help from you.  No fertilizers, no need to baby them!
  3. By summertime, you will have a beautiful stalk of bright yellow flowers (or some other cultivar).
  4. They are beautiful cut flowers that last a long time.
  5. The bees will love you!  as well as butterflies, ladybugs, dragonflies, and other insects that all feed on the nectars they produce.
  6. The flowers are interesting not only for their colors (and there are many) but also for the seeds they are producing.
  7. If you are into "mathematics", they love working the Fibonacci Sequencing with the seed heads as they are revealed in growth patterns in nature.
  8. The seed heads are food for birds, squirrels, chipmunks, field mice and more.
  9. You can bake the seeds for human consumption too!  But you can also eat them raw.
  10. You can have a variety of sunflowers growing together.  They will delight you in so many ways.
So when you think of sunflowers are you just thinking of the big yellow multi petalled flower?  There are so many more varieties of sunflowers than the traditional yellow.  

Sunflower "Elf" is probably the shortest growing at stems of 16 inches or so in height.  Then there is one called Sunforest Mix which can grow up to 10 feet tall.  The seed heads can measure almost 12 inches across!  As it's name implies, if you plant a bunch of these you will have a "Sunflower Forest" growing.  What could be more beautiful?  The bees, birds and small wildlife will thank you!

Did you know that Sunflowers are also yellow with orange centers, or white?  Some varieties have just a few layers of petals around the seed head, while others are so full of petals that they look fuzzy!  

One thing that they all have in common is that they will surely bring a smile to your face!


Ripening Seed heads! Just one sunflower can produce hundreds of seeds.  That will feed a lot of birds!

            This bird can hardly wait for the seeds to ripen on this seed head and he's helping himself to a delicious snack!

Seed heads are easy to harvest.  Just grab a sharp knife (be careful) and cut the seed head off.  You don't need to remove the seeds from the rest of the flower head, unless you want to.  Turn the heads upside down and suspend them with some string and the birds will come for them.  If you have lots of seed heads, you might want to ration them out a head at a time, so that as winter sets in you still have some heads for the birds.  Sunflower seeds are a great source of food for the birds in the winter months.  They are loaded with oils that birds need for energy during the coldest months of the year.  

If you want to get an idea about how many colors and sizes of Sunflowers there are, here is a link to HGTV's 13 Crazy and Colorful Sunflowers!  

I think I would love to have a few acres that I could plant with sunflowers of all types, can you just imagine the riot of color that would be seen? 

As we lead up to Christmas, I won't fill your minds with too much more than beautiful pictures of the Sunflowers that hopefully will grace your gardens in 2021.  In the language of flowers, sunflowers mean Adoration, Loyalty, and Longevity!  We( all the writers) at Review This Reviews, adore our fans and readers.  We will loyally bring you a variety of reviews that you will enjoy and we want to be with you and have you visit us often.   A very fitting flower for us, for this time of year and the year to come.  


Decorate your life with a little sunshine that lasts and lasts.  Sunflowers are just one of the cheeriest flowers and so charming in their own way!





I can't think of a flower that would make me smile bigger and longer than the sight of a bright yellow or red sunflower!



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Saturday, December 12, 2020

Reviewing The Growing And Care Of Bottlebrush Plant

Bottlebrush In The Garden By Raintree Annie

Four years ago we bought our first Bottlebrush. It is a plant I had wanted for years so was very happy to bring one home. The first picture shows it growing in a large pot in our garden.

However, when we first brought it home, at that time, I knew very little about how to care for it. 

Most of my plants were firmly outdoor garden plants but the bottle brush in our climate always seems to me to be halfway between a houseplant and a garden plant. 

Learning About Bottlebrush

So I knew I needed to learn about how to grow and care for it. Ours is the Callistemon citrinus or Crimson Bottlebrush. It is fairly common and easy to find. It is quite hardy, but I find requires winter shelter. It produces its stunning flowers mainly in high in summer with another smaller flush in Autumn and has been forgiving about my pruning to shape it.

There are several more cultivars including Alpine and Weeping varieties which are lovely. There are even Lemon Bottlebrush with lemon coloured flowers. So there are many to choose from for your needs. 

Bottlebrush With Bee by Raintree Annie


The smaller dwarf varieties are especially useful for a small garden, patio or even a balcony. If you do not have a garden as such, a dwarf Bottlebrush would be lovely to bring some colour and style to a small outdoor space or indoor conservatory.

   

The name Bottlebrush comes from the beautiful red flower spikes that grow right at the end of the branches and simply look like a bottle brush! 

We knew it needed to grow in a very mid climate as the plant originates in Australia. We have a temperate climate sometimes it is very warm but most of the time it is mild or cool and in winter can be very cold indeed sometimes freezing conditions with frost and snow. So we decided it would be best to grow it in a large pot so that we could move it into a sheltered area easily. 
Bee On Bottlebrush Poster

Bottlebrush also requires free draining soil preferably on the acidic side and our soil is heavy clay. We did not think it would like the clay soil as it gets very cold and sodden in winter and sometimes becomes frozen and rock like. However, it is thriving in the free-draining ericaceous compost with grit and sand I added to the pot. 

I positioned it in full sun so it could take advantage of as much warmth and sunshine as possible. Ideally, it needs to be placed in a south-facing position or failing that a west facing position.

I have to admit for the first two years I was a little disappointed as there were no flowers. It was bought as a small plant though so I knew that as a gardener we do need a little patience. I also learned a lot the first year about how to care for it and it was very forgiving. With a little care and attention and doing the right things the plant was very happy and I reaped the rewards. 

The first year it flowered I was ecstatic!! The flowers were so beautiful and so prolific!! 

Bottlebrush Spike By Raintree Annie


Pruning And Care Of Bottlebrush

Especially in a pot it is necessary to water Bottlebrush regularly and to feed at least once a year in Spring and after flowering. I give an ericaceous feed and water when I feel the soil is dry.  In the ground you may only need to water if it is very dry for prolonged periods of time. 

I have rarely pruned our bottlebrush, only really to shape it. I prefer to just prune back lightly and cut just behind the faded flower spikes each year. Cutting back into the old wood is not advisable.

I have grown it like a shrub, but if you like you can prune it to make it look more tree-like with a single longer trunk. The variety I have can grow up to 15 feet tall so depending on where you are growing it, you may need to do light pruning to keep it in check annually or every other year. However, it can take 10 to 20 years to grow to its full height so it is not a plant that will get out of control very quickly.

 Of course with the dwarf varieties, the plant outgrowing its available space will not be an issue and pruning is simply to remove dead or damaged branches and clip to shape. If I got another one -which is very likely- I will buy a dwarf variety. 

 


I love the leaves, they are evergreen, aromatic, lance-shaped and the older ones are quite thick and dark green while the young ones are light green often just tinged with red and very soft and really lovely to touch.

The flowers here tend to bloom in high to late summer though this year ours still flowered in late November. In the winter I now keep it in our porch area which is very sheltered. In late autumn I cover it in several layers of thick garden fleece and so far it has been just fine throughout winter. If I had a conservatory or orangery I would certainly keep it in there all year round. 

I have never known ours suffer from any pests or diseases. However, it can be susceptible to red spider mite, scale insects and mealybugs though these tend to be more prevalent when grown in a greenhouse situation.

In terms of usefulness to wildlife, our bees love it in summer and can often be found happily feeding upon it! 

 


Bottlebrush is a beautiful evergreen plant requiring minimal care and attention once you understand its needs. It looks great all year round and especially gorgeous in summer and autumn with its vibrant flower spikes. It is a beautiful plant to grow and lovely to give as a gift for anyone who appreciates plants. 

As long as you have one of a garden, conservatory, greenhouse, orangery, a sheltered sunny spot, suitable soil conditions, or a large pot and a means of keeping it safe and sheltered in colder conditions I would recommend growing it.



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

5 Wildlife Gift Ideas Reviewed

Bird In Tree By Raintree Annie
It is wonderful to buy a gift that will be appreciated and be of use and joy to the receiver long after the day it is given. 

If your loved ones are interested in wildlife or like gardening with wildlife in mind here are some beautiful gifts they will enjoy for a long time. 

These gifts are perfect for helping our wildlife and give hours of happiness and interest to your loved ones. They will enjoy watching the birds, carefully observing the many insects and spiders and learning about the fascinating world of wildlife. 

Many of these gifts are suitable for children to seniors and will keep on being of interest, not just when they open the gift but for all year long.  Here are a few ideas of wildlife gifts from my own experience.

1. Insect Or Bug House. 

These are fantastic for attracting all manner of insects and spiders. You simply hang it up in a sheltered spot away from winds in the garden and ideally about 6-7 foot high. I find it is ideal to place an insect house near a pond if you have one, or a hedge or trees or a mixed flower bed. 

You will know that you are providing a lovely home for all manner of insects such as lacewings, ladybugs and butterflies that will make it their home or resting place and often provide beneficial activities for the garden in terms of predating and pollinating. 

Gardeners will love it as it will attract beneficial insects to help them in the garden and anyone interested in insect life will appreciate being able to observe the bug hotel filling up! I have one and although it takes a little while for the insects to know it is there once they find it they move in!


 A lovely gift for a young child interested in bugs through to an adult gardener. 


2.Wildlife Books

A wildlife book for a child just starting on the discovery of nature is a beautiful and thoughtful gift. When introducing children to the fascinating world of wildlife you want the book to be fun educational and interesting.

 A book like this can be the very start of a lifelong love of nature and wildlife that will bring joy, understanding, fun and interest to children and develop a deep love of wildlife and conservation that can last a lifetime. A beautiful thoughtful and truly giving gift.
  


If gifting to an adult a beautiful wildlife book gift is Kate Bradbury's "The Wildlife Gardener."I have given this book as a gift myself and it was very well received. I then ordered another one for myself it was so good! You can read more about it in Diary Of A Wild Country Garden Why I Bought The Wildlife Gardener Book Twice! 


3.Bird Bath 

One of the most important things we can provide to wildlife is fresh clean water. It is essential for birds to drink every day and bathe to clean their feathers every day for their good health. 

In towns and cities especially, birds need birdbaths with fresh clean water in as many gardens as possible. If you have a birdbath in your garden you will attract a wide variety of birds all year round and once they know it is there it is likely to become very popular!

Our birdbath has bird visitors from robins, sparrows, blue tits and blackbirds to name a few every single day all year round!

This is a fantastic gift for many people from the enthusiastic birdwatcher, to anyone who simply enjoys watching the antics of the birds, to the bird photographer who can gain many opportunities to take amazing photographs of birds in action at the birdbath throughout the year.

Many of these birdbaths are also very beautiful decorative pieces for the garden.

 


4. Bird Feeders Station
 
Especially in winter but really all year round birds need additional food to help them survive. A bird feeder set will be lovely to look at, help the birds and give immense pleasure all year round to anyone who loves birds and enjoys watching their antics or learning more about them.

 Great if a young birdwatcher is learning about how to identify different birds as they will visit birdfeeders again and again and with luck will attract a wide variety of birds to learn about.

For anyone, it is beautiful to spend some relaxing time simply watching the birds and often getting to know regular visitors.  I can spend hours simply watching the birds without realising how much time has gone by! It adds interest to the day and a wonderful connection with our wild visitors.
 
A very useful addition to this gift is to give with a supply of good quality bird feed so that they can get started right away on Christmas day!    

There are various ideas and gifts for attracting birds to a garden along with various birdfeeder products in this post from Diary Of A Wild Country Garden Wild Birds Visiting Our Garden 

Baby Robin By Raintree Annie


5.Birdbox.

Many people like to attract wildlife to their gardens and a great way to do this is to hang up a birdbox. Smaller birds like bluetits often love to use these and I have had success in my own garden.

Anyone of any age interested in wildlife can spend ages watching the birds bringing in nest material and identifying them. If fortunate, they may see the baby birds fledge all the while learning more and appreciating wildlife!

Simply hang the birdbox in a sheltered shady spot far away from any birdfeeders or birdbaths so that it is not too busy or noisy for the nesting birds to raise their brood. Ideally, it should be sited in a place where it will not get too hot as this may be difficult for the baby birds to tolerate. 

Then it is a matter of waiting to see if you can attract a breeding pair and raise young in the garden. I feel it's a good idea to have bird nesting boxes in place by early January at the latest so that the birds have time to get used to a new feature in the garden and can assess it long before nesting time. 

It is amazing to watch and highly educational for young people and a real pleasure at any age. 
 



Whichever gift you choose for your loved one, if they love birds and wildlife they will love the thoughtful nature of your gift to them. 




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Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Reviewing The Joys And Uses Of Autumn/Fall Leaves

Autumn/Fall Leaves

I appreciate all the seasons and I love the time of year when the leaves start to change colour. Although the vibrant colours of the beautiful spring and summer flowers are now a fond memory, Autumn leaves are equally gorgeous. 

I love to see all the different colours and when you look more closely all the diverse shapes and textures of the leaves. Underfoot if it's dry they feel scrunchy and if it's wet they are all slippery.

When the wind blows you can hear the rustle of the dry leaves and some get caught up and fly higher into the sky like wild confetti! 

In the Fall/Autumn season we are treated to the stunning show of reds, golds, bronze and russets to lift our spirits as the days grow colder and shorter. I do have happy memories of Autumn that stay with me always.

There are many beautiful and lasting memories that can be made at this time of year between children and their parents or grandparents and I wanted to highlight some of the uses and joys to appreciate this season's beautiful falling leaves.

There is nothing quite like standing under a large tree when its leaves are changing color to golds and reds gazing up at the sky as the sun is streaming through, it is truly a magical experience.


Autumn/Fall With Children

This time of year always raises memories of my childhood. My parents always encouraged a love of the outdoors and Autumn always evokes memories as a child walking through deep rifts of crunchy leaves holding hands with my Mum and Dad kicking up the leaves, having fun!

We collected leaves of all shapes, colours and sizes to press, make into a picture and learn about. To succeed in this process on a basic level all you need is tissue paper and a very heavy book. Simply lay the leaf between 2 layers of tissue paper then place in the middle of a heavy book, close and leave. Before very long you will have beautifully preserved leaves. If you wish to learn more about leaf and flower pressing this book is a great starting point to learn how to create really lovely personalised art from simple leaves and flowers.

The Art of Pressed Flowers and Leaves


For younger children dried leaves can be laid down on white paper, the outline drawn and then coloured or painted in whatever authentic or imagined colours they like!

Autumn leaves are so beautiful to paint and also to take photographs of. They have amazing colours and shapes and are always interesting for the artist. Such gorgeous rich colours and moods to capture. 

When older children are involved in looking at and experiencing nature in this way it is then very educational to teach children about the different leaves and which trees they come from. 

This gorgeous book is a wonderful resource, beautiful, visual and well organised to teach children about leaves, trees, seeds, flowers and so much more to encourage an interest in and appreciation of nature.


Trees, Leaves, Flowers and Seeds: A Visual Encyclopedia of the Plant Kingdom




Children and adults can enjoy making a collage of beautiful shapes and colours together from collected Autumn leaves.

As a child, I did this activity throughout Autumn with my parents and it was an enjoyable craft in the long dark evenings.

 All we need is a large sheet of paper, a safe means of adhering them to the paper and dried pressed leaves. The only limits are our imagination!




Making Leaf Mould For The Garden

I heard a neighbour say the other day how he would like this time of year if it wasn't for the leaves falling. I was surprised to hear this as I always see this time of year as a bounty! Fallen Leaves are a great harvest for me. Each year I eagerly wait in anticipation for the leaves to change colour and then fall. My task is then to gather them all up to make gorgeous leaf mold.

I make it by first raking up all the leaves on a dry day, then I set the mower blades on the highest setting and give a gentle mow over to break them down into smaller pieces. This helps to speed up the process. Next, I either place the leaves into black bags or a simple chicken wire crate.

If they are in black bags I make holes with a fork for drainage.  If it is not raining I water them and place them out of sight around the back of the garage. This is so easy to do and I simply wait a year and then I have lovely crumbly free leaf mold to mix in with potting compost and use freely on our beds and borders!


Autumn/Fall Leaves And Wildlife

We can all enjoy the fall leaves but we should not forget about our wildlife. I always leave piles of leaves around in the borders of the garden in sheltered places so as not to be destroyed by strong winds. If we add large or medium-sized logs or piles of sticks that assist wildlife even more by providing protective cover.

Over the years I have seen blackbirds kicking these piles of leaves around to find dinner beneath, hedgehogs taking the leaves to another place getting ready for their winter hibernation, or even deciding that the pile itself will make a cosy home!

There are also all the unseen bugs, creatures and minibeasts who will inhabit the leaf pile to make it their home and find some winter comfort there. 


So just a few examples of how we and our garden creatures can enjoy and use this bountiful resource that is the fallen Autumn/Fall leaves. How do you enjoy Autumn/Fall leaves?   



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