The Orange Tip

details in the dirt

Month: June, 2013

Stag Beetle

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Coming in from the garden this evening I was amazed to find a stag beetle upside down on my shed desk, legs in the air and struggling to right itself. Though it does suggest I probably ought to clean the place a little more often, I’m pretty pleased to have been sharing dwellings with an endangered species.

Having said this, I’ve no doubt the monstrous beetle wandered in at some point fairly recently; most likely from the large wood pile just by the shed. I stacked the logs during my first Winter at the garden when erecting my firewood log-store, the idea being to slowly work through the wood (left from the initial tree-thinning during the garden landscaping), splitting it to dry out. As it happened I vastly misjudged the amount of wood to get through, and the store filled up before I’d even got through 10% of the logs. Therefore the pile has remained more or less left to its own devices for 3 years.

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The other week I saw the tail of a grass snake slip away down through a gap in the stumps, and last year hornets chose a hollow within the logs for their nest. Wrens dart about the pile daily; I often watch them from my desk, speeding from log to log, scouring for insects. This year a pair made their nest at the base of the stack, under a discarded railway sleeper. In fact for such a dim and seemingly stark element in the garden, there’s no greater source of diverse wildlife on the property; a rival even (in conservational terms) perhaps to the pond, although it does support a completely different range of habitat. So I suppose my message to all wildlife enthusiasts and the conservationally inclined with even the smallest of gardens would be stack yourselves some logs. If you’ve no room for a pond, there’s an equally important and engaging environment to be created, and one that requires far less effort too.

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Euphorbia oblongata

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Of the 70-80 annuals sown at the garden each year, a key favourite both of mine and of it’s seed-distributor (Sarah Raven), is Euphorbia oblongata. It’s more of a biennial and occasional short-lived perennial than an annual; sown mid-summer to flower early in the following year.
I use this tough and reliable little plant both in the cutting garden and in the perennial beds; making use of it’s shade-tolerance to brighten up dim stretches of border in the shadow of the house. I can’t really ‘hype’ the plant up enough; on top of all else it holds colour in the vase for well over a week and, due to it’s ferrel origins, mixes just as well with cultivated and wild flowers alike.

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This morning I planted out a row of next year’s champions in the cutting beds.

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