Back to my roots: Wild strawberries

After a week trapped inside by work, on Saturday morning I happily pottered around the garden for several hours. I started in the front garden, cutting back the comfrey and stuffing it into buckets to make liquid feed, since the flowers have faded to the point where the bees are no longer interested. I also harvested the wild strawberries that had been wafting a ripe aroma around the place for several days. In doing so I disturbed a frog that was hiding under their leaves. Two hops and it had disappeared again; I almost didn’t work out what had caused the movement. We know we have frogs in the garden because they hop out when we’re working on the unruly corners, but other than that we rarely see them. Which is fine, they’re doing a grand job of pest control.

Lasius flavus, yellow meadow ant

In the back garden I wanted to plant out the summer squash, which involved taking down the raised bed cover under which I had been hardening off plants. I’d put cardboard and plastic sheeting down on the bed to stop it growing weeds (or, quite frankly, cat poo), and so the soil was dry. It had become home to a nest of ants (which Rhizowen tells me are Lasius flavus, the yellow meadow ant), and so I popped inside for a cup of tea to give the local bird population a chance to have a feast. I didn’t watch, but when I went outside again, all of the eggs, and most of the ants, had disappeared.

Fuchsiaberry regrowth

I did some tidying up, moving pots around, and disturbed a scurrying beetle. I had thought the two remaining fuchsiaberries had died over the winter, but when I went to empty their pots, I discovered new growth. And giant spiders.

Japanese wineberry

Filling watering cans is getting increasingly difficult, as one of the water butts is behind the Japanese wineberry, which as gone a bit bonkers this year. I’ve had to tie it back towards the fence a little bit. It’s an absolute magnet for bees as it flowers. (There’s another water butt on the other side of the garden, which is slightly more difficult (physically) to reach, due to an unkempt area, and is guarded by a tall nettle I need to chop down.)

Empty garden
The garden as it was in June 2015

We’re lucky that we live on the edge of the countryside, but it’s amazing to see how much wildlife has ‘moved in’ to the garden in just three years. For me, creating a space which is full of life is one of the great joys of gardening, and is one of the reasons why I have always chosen to garden organically and peat-free. As the garden bursts back into life, it feels very much as though I’m getting back to my gardening roots, after a few years of being without a garden, and three more of building a new one.