Save living wildlife from the Natural History Museum

by Rowan Adams, the Climate-friendly Gardener

Yes, you read that right. Please help to save living wildlife not just at the Natural History Museum, but from the Natural History Museum

Well, to be more precise, living wildlife at the museum needs saving from some plans proposed by people at the top of the museum. I took this photo on Midsummer Day, 24 June, when I was there for the Wildlife Gardening Forum’s conference on soil biodiversity in the garden. How sad that on the autumn equinox I would be signing a petition to save the garden. Continue reading Save living wildlife from the Natural History Museum

The benefits of peat-free compost

The UK currently uses three million cubic metres of peat per annum for horticulture.  69% of this is used by amateur gardeners and 30% by professional growers.  As peat is effectively a non-renewable resource, the extraction of peat for horticulture is unsustainable, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and damage to rare habitats and archaeology. (DEFRA source)

So, what to do? For a start, you can choose peat-free for your own garden. Read on to see how – and why.
The benefits of Peat Free Compost - Compost Direct

Spurn Spawn!

By Ruth D’Alessandro, The Wildlife Gardener “We’ve got loads of frogspawn. Would you like some for your pond?” is the question most asked of the Wildlife Gardener at this time of year.

Tons of spawn

And when my answer is a firm “No thank you”, the response is usually “Why not? I’ve got far too much.” In the spring, the Wildlife Pond resembles a bowl of tapioca. The water boils with copulating amphibians and soon it is just a jellified mass. Surely far too much spawn? Why not take it out? Continue reading Spurn Spawn!

Gents, something in your pocket kills trees – and it’s not a copper nail.

The Ranger has been involved in many neighbour disputes over trees and hedges. Trees and hedges are usually on boundaries, you see, and so that’s where the trouble starts. It’s very easy to underestimate the fury, rage and pain that courses through such seemingly storm-in-teacup matters. On at least two occasions in recent times people have died over these disputes, one of these being shot by his neighbour. So, not trifling matters.

What the protagonists almost invariably fail to recognise when they come to the Ranger for some assistance is that the authorities will rarely take one side or the other – in fact, they are more interested in the tree itself, because it is the tree which has amenity for the rest of us. What is one person’s nuisance is a beautiful addition to the landscape for many others. So, in many cases, the Ranger finds himself defending not the harassed householder, nor the hysterical neighbour, but the trees.

Copper nails

 

Continue reading Gents, something in your pocket kills trees – and it’s not a copper nail.

Ivy on trees… kill it or cherish it?

At this time of year our thoughts turn to holly and ivy… and sometimes we encounter one of the ‘old chestnuts’ for debate that just seem to go on and on. Is ivy on a tree a good thing or a bad thing? Should we take ivy off trees, or leave it on? The world seems to be divided sharply into two on this matter. The Ranger, for what it’s worth, is firmly in the ivy retention camp. Ivy (c) ScoobygirlI well remember a Christmastime some 15 years ago when on my rounds in the woodland I managed I encountered the work of an ivy vigilante. Some clever dick had gone along the woodland ride and cut about 10cm out of the big stems of ivy on the oak trees, killing dozens of ivy plants. I was furious, and for years afterwards the dead ivy lurked in the oak branches, accusingly. Of course, it grew back, but that’s not the point. Ivy provides good shelter and food for wildlife, it is a native plant, and it does not harm trees. No, it doesn’t. A weak tree may succumb to ivy infestation, but this is because it was on the way out anyway. It’s also nigh on impossible to get dead ivy out of a tree.

So why do people hate it so? My theory is that it’s a gardening thing. Of course, in a formal situation, such as a park or garden, it’s quite proper to take ivy off trees. Indeed, because ivy is so successful as a plant it can certainly be seen as a weed in some contexts. So gardeners and those who like tidy gardens, like to remove it. The problem comes when they extend this principle to natural and managed woodlands, and assume that ivy elsewhere is also a problem. Not so. I’m happy for gardeners to pick off as much ivy as they like – in a garden. But if ivy is a weed in one context, it cannot be assumed that it will be so in all others. So please, if your secateur trigger finger is itchy, don’t go into your local woodland and cut the ivy stems imagining you’re improving matters. Clip off a few jolly ivy boughs instead, decorate your home this Christmas with this fine, festive plant, and learn to enjoy it in its place.