Each week Floss and I make time to immerse ourselves in the outdoors. A walk around our local area together collecting treasures is one of our favourite pastimes. We'd not had a garden for a while and wildlife, other than a clowder of cats, had been very lacking. When you dug the ground there weren't even worms, but you would find a colony of click beetles scuttling round! That and the odd spider is about all we'd been used to. Finally, the structural work to our garden is finished. Decking in, paving complete, raised planters built and turf down. Although, it's fair to say that turf is struggling in the current heat no matter how much we tend to it. Here are some of the progress pictures.
It's a blank canvas, that I can't wait to spend time with Floss making into our little outdoor haven.
Floss has been thoroughly enjoying being able to go outside. She comes downstairs in the morning and even before she's had breakfast she's saying 'shoes' while standing by the back door. It makes me smile so much to see how eager she is to be outdoors whenever and whatever the weather. So, the foundations are in, next step is to incentivise some wildlife to want to come and join us. Mine and Floss's mission is to do as much as we can without DadDad realising what we are doing - he's not a wildlife person! Well I say that, but Floss might be working on him as he seems quite interested in our Insect Lore caterpillars. What's the plan and how will I make sure Floss (22 months) is really involved in the experience?
1. Plants - Floss really enjoys stopping to smell the roses - literally! If she sees them, they must be sniffed. Therefore, we hope to have plants that are aromatic for her to squish her nose in as often as she likes. As well as roses she loves running her hands through lavender and smelling her hands. We're planning on the plants that we have to be very alluring to bees and other pollinators. One large planter I'd specifically designed to be at the right height for Floss to plant in without needing my help. The RHS website has a list of garden plants great for pollinators - link here.
2. Trees - I love trees. When I was little we lived in a house that had a massive weeping willow in the back garden that I spent many hours huddled under with a book. When the wind blew it was beautiful watching it dance. Floss is also fascinated by the movement of trees and we're lucky that a neighbour has a weeping willow that falls into our garden. The garden isn't huge, so we need to think carefully what trees we will plant, but they are so important for a range of wildlife. I hope to fit in trees that provide fruits and berries and possibly a walnut tree. What trees would you put in a small garden?
3. Meadowland - This will be a secret from DadDad. Shhh. We'll be sprinkling wild seeds over part of our lawn to turn it into a wilderness of wild flowers. Not only will this provide lovely protection for wildlife, but I think it will be a beautiful place for Floss to explore. DadDad likes things neat and tidy, wildlife loves a bit of mess. So, I hope this will be a compromise! I think Floss will love sprinkling the seeds and watching to see what appears.
4. Wood Lodge - We've got a space behind one of the planters (the garden fence is not even close to being straight) that I thought would be a great shady spot to encourage wildlife. We'll be collecting up rocks, wood, twigs and leaves to deposit behind there to encourage small creatures and minibeasts. We're always collecting things on our nature travels, so we'll look for things specifically for this space and Floss will be able to add them herself.
5. Bug Hotel - These are really on trend right now and I can't wait to make one with Floss. I'd like it to be at ground height so that Floss can keep an eye on the visitors as she pleases. We've got some large cinnamon sticks, bamboo and sticks that would make a great start and again we'll go out collecting treasures for the rest.
6. Bird Land - At my Mom's house there's a blackbird that comes to her window and knocks for raisins and a robin and blue tit that take it in turns to sit on the bathroom window sill. Birds become very familiar with individual gardens and sometimes you might be lucky enough for some birds to call your house home too. We'll be adding nesting boxes - you've got to make or buy the right type for the birds you're looking to encourage as they can be very particular when it comes to selecting accommodation. I'm hoping to have a go at making one together. There will also be a feeder and a bird bath. We need to be really careful where we locate these due to all the cats who stop by. Floss will help with this by making bird food balls with me to put outside.
7. Hedgehog Habitat - It terrifies me when I hear about the decline in these wonderful little creatures in such a short space of time. We'll be pulling out all the stops to try and encourage these little fellows in. We'll be making a hedgehog house and ensuring that there are small spaces in our fences to give them free passage. I love this little hedgehog house in the image below from Josh who works at the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire. Do check out their website here.
Please do comment below with what you've done to invite wildlife into your garden. We'd love to hear your ideas.
Thanks so much to everyone who let me use their lovely photographs. I've written where they came from below each image and if you click on the image a new window will take you to their Instagram page if you'd like to find out more.
Coming next – Early Years Garden of Our Dreams – Part 7 – Planting for Toddlers
- Part 1 – The Wish List
- Part 2 - Water Play
- Part 3 - Mud kitchens Galore
- Part 4 - Mark Making Matters
- Part 5 - Secret Small Worlds
In the future
- Part 8 – Alfresco Dining for Tiddlers
- Part 9 – Terrific Trees
- Part 10 – Den Building
As always, I would recommend adult supervision with activities and take care to ensure the items you are using are suitable for your child in both age and development. Specifically, with outdoors, I think it's really important to make sure that you reassess risks before each time you allow access to outside. A school I used to work in was next to a road and we always had to make sure that nothing had blown or been thrown in. It's also good to consider how you will explain safety aspects such as some things being dangerous to eat in gardens and woods. The views expressed are my own.