Tag Archives: Garden

We’re Giving Nature a Home

Do you have an outdoor space? Have you thought about the wildlife that calls your space home?

I have been browsing the RSPB website and reading about the campaign to Give Nature a Home. I was shocked to learn that out of the 6,000 British species assessed recently, more than one in 10 are under threat of disappearing from our shores altogether.

But we can help. We can make sure our outdoor space is wildlife friendly and we can create homes for all sorts of birds and bugs. We can let the grass grow a little longer, we can plant wildflowers and hedges, we can make a pond or build a bug house, feed the birds or put up a nest box.

Over the last two years, as I have become more and more interested in wildlife and the world of minibeasts (thanks to my bug loving children) we have worked hard to make our garden a haven for birds and bugs alike. We have buried a bucket for beetles, we have dug out a small pond, we have made a nest box, and the plants we chose for the borders this year were picked to be butterfly and bee friendly.

We regularly enjoy watching some of the creatures that call our garden home and this year we are really seeing the benefit of our efforts.

We have a large apple tree at the bottom of the garden and hang several bird feeders in the tree and have a ground feeding tray for the larger birds. We regularly see Wood Pigeons, Collared Doves, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Blackbirds, Magpies and Robins and have occasional visits from Woodpeckers, Starlings, Jays and Goldfinches.

Every day we see butterflies and bees enjoying the flowers and long grass. The Speckled Wood butterflies and both Small and Large Whites are very common visitors and we have lots of caterpillars. Yesterday I saw a Blue Butterfly in the garden for the first time, I think a Holly Blue.

The pond is thriving. We have several tadpoles left but are also now enjoying watching the frogs.

The kids frequently go bug hunting and find worms, woodlice, beetles, spiders, centipedes and for the first time this year we have grasshoppers.

Garden WildlifeCan you give nature a home? The RSPB Website had some great ideas to help you get started and you’ll soon be enjoying the wildlife that moves in!


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Hottest day of the year

So today has been the hottest day of the year so far.

And it really has been hot. Too hot if I am honest.

This morning the kids wanted to do some sticker books and drawing so we all sat at the table and did some mazes, doodling and stickers.hot day 1This afternoon we went in the garden and used water to cool us down again!

We got the water slide out for the first time. The kids quite liked it but weren’t keen on using it as a slide, preferring to just run and splash around. It kept everyone cool though, so achieved the aim!hot day 2We also finally got ice today. I have completely failed to make any ice cubes yet but we really needed some today so I did the very lazy thing and bought some! Bought ice cubes.. frozen water. Can you believe it! I paid money for something I can do at home in seconds! But it was so hot we really needed some. This was proved by Ben, who enjoyed eating them!hot day 3And now it is raining. It is still boiling hot, but raining. I might go and stand in the garden for a while!

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Painting in the garden

Following on from Thursday when we painted handprint caterpillars at Twins Club, today we got the paints out at home to create some more animals, flowers and general art work.

I wanted each of the kids to have their own art space so I got the easel out for Thomas and Jasmine, and used the tuff spot for Ben. This was important because I wanted to see what the big two would do and they were keen to actually paint something, whereas Ben is still in the “paint everything one colour then smear round with hands” stage, and he usually does this all over their work.

I set out the paints and a selection of brushes, sponges and old toothbrushes to paint with. The kids loved the idea of painting with toothbrushes and a lot of the first paintings were done using these. Ben had a wonderful time with the orange and black paint and some toothbrushes! Thomas painted a sunflower growing in a garden and Jasmine painted some flowers and a person.Painting 1aOnce they had all filled one piece of paper I mentioned painting with their hands. Ben got stuck right in and was soon covered in black paint! He did lots of handprints in different colours. Thomas added a handprint spider to his sunflower painting and then painted more bugs on a new sheet. I showed him how to paint a handprint butterfly and he also did some worms and another spider. Jasmine created lots of multicoloured hand-angels and she did her own butterfly, which I was very impressed with as she did it with no help from me.Painting 2When they started painting with their hands I had filled the sandpit lid with water so the could rinse the paint off when they wanted to use different colours. Both boys, but especially Ben, had just as much fun washing their hands as they did painting!

Finally, for their last painting of the day I added shaving foam as an option. I gave them all a tupperware container with some in and showed them how to mix some paint into it. None of the kids have ever been keen on using shaving foam in their messy play so I was interested to see how they would work with it. Having already had paint on their hands I was hoping this would encourage them to get the foam on their hands as well.

They all started off using the brushes and sponges to paint it on to the paper but Ben soon got his hands involved and was happily hand printing with the foamy painty mixture. This encouraged Thomas and he joined in, creating some wonderful “fireworks” on his paper.Painting 3Then, just as I was getting the boys clean and starting to tidy bits away, I turned round and Jasmine had covered her hands in the shaving foamy paint as well! This is a big thing for Jasmine and she always takes a long time to come round to getting her hands really messy (which is strange because she is quite happy to play in mud all day!)Painting 4All in all, we had a very successful painting session today. Now, I just need to find somewhere to display all the pictures!
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Lots of water play

This afternoon we had our home education group meeting at our house. Being so hot (again) I put out lots of water for the kids to play in and with. We still had the paddling pool out and I put some water beads in the tuff spot. I also put out a large bowl of water and the water table. 18.07.13Jasmine spent a long time playing with the water beads while the boys found the water pistols in the shed and a water fight began! Actually mostly what it looked like was the kids against Gordon! They also squirted the slide and enjoyed sliding down a little faster on the “water slide”

We ended the day having dinner with Caterpillar Tales. Hot Dogs and Lego Star Wars on DVD. The perfect end to a great day!


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Grandma’s garden

We are having a new boiler fitted at home this week, so today we drove up to my mums in Sheffield to escape the mess!

As soon as we arrived the kids went into the garden.Sheffield 1They played with the cats and hunted for bugs in the plants and the water. We found some bees feeding on daisies, woodlice, and a couple of other bugs. Unfortunately we also found lily beetles and grubs on the lilies. In the birds water table we found some mosquito larvae and drone fly larvae (rat tailed maggots).Sheffield 2The kids can’t wait to go out and hunt for more bugs tomorrow!

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Good Times with Good Friends

We had a lovely day today with our friends Caterpillar Tales.

This morning they were holding a fundraiser at their Toddler Group for The Lullaby Trust in memory of Matilda Mae, so we went to support them with that and then afterwards we went back to their house for lunch and play.

The kids played in the “talking bush”, on the climbing frame, found a huge ants nest in the sand pit, collected lots of ants!, played tennis, played lego, and lots more. In fact, they played really nicely together for hours. It was lovely!Caterpillar Tales GardenIn other news, when we got home we found that one of the silkworms has started to make its cocoon. I’m hoping the others start soon because until they do we have to keep feeding them, which disturbs the one already spinning. This silkworm rearing is much harder than I imagined!Silkworm

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In Photographs

We have had a really quiet day today and don’t seem to have done much. I mean, we’ve been busy all day, but just with”stuff”.

I took Ben to toddler group this morning and Gordon cleaned the rabbit hutch with a little help from Thomas and Jasmine, the kids played in the garden, Gordon and I sorted some stuff out, we played with the rabbits.

So because I can’t think of much to say here are some photographs I took.25th June Collage 1 25th June Collage 2 25th June Collage 3

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A garden for 3 kids

Everybody knows how much my kids love being outdoors. Whatever the weather they want to be outside and while we do try and visit parks and woodland frequently, we spend most of our time in the garden. The kids have got their bikes, the swing and climbing frame, playhouse, sandpit and this year we have created their mud patch and mud kitchen.Our gardenWe also have our borders for growing flowers and vegetables. This year we are growing lots of butterfly and bee friendly flowers next to the pond and in the “home grown” side we’ve got peas, green beans and shallots alongside the usual strawberries, rhubarb and blueberries. In pots we are growing tomatoes, courgettes, spring onions and potatoes.

But this side of the garden, the growing, is usually done by me. The kids like planting seeds and they especially love eating the home grown fruit and veg, but the bit in between.. well that tends to get forgotten! Or they try and dig the veggies up because they are looking for worms. That happens a lot too!

So when I saw Moneysupermarket #KidsGrowWild challenge I knew this would be just the thing for us;  just the thing to get the kids growing their own plants and not digging mine up!

When the kit arrived there was great excitement! In a handy carry bag there was a hand fork, hand trowel, a metal watering can, a pair of gardening gloves and three packets of seeds.

So, first things first, we needed plant pots for them. We have loads of spare pots in the shed but they were all too small as it seems someone had used all the large ones to plant tomatoes, courgettes and spring onions in! A quick shopping trip put that right and we were ready to plant. Gardening KitThe kids set to work filling their pots with compost and choosing what seeds to plant. With the kit we got pansies, sunflowers and a “pretty flower family” mix and I also let them choose from a small selection of seeds I already had.#KidsGrowWildThomas chose the “Pretty flower family” mix and some pansies, Jasmine choose some cottage garden pots and containers flower seeds that I had and also planted a sunflower seed, and Ben chose to grow some lettuce and a selection of flower seeds. Once planted, they watered them and have been very good at checking them since!

I feel I need to write a quick nota bene here. Thomas and Jasmine were very excited about the gardening gloves and both wore them.. right up to the time they started filling their pots with compost. Then they took them off and just used their hands! My kids really do love a bit of mud!

They have also developed a love of planting things in pots. At least twice in the last couple of weeks I have had to provide plant pots and compost for things to be planted! It started off with weeds I was pulling out of the veg bed but I also wanted to move some nasturtiums that have taken over so Jasmine now has some of these in a pot as well! If I don’t provide pots quick enough, they will use any container they can find as you can see!The planting continuesThree weeks on from when we planted the seeds and the kids have done a good job in looking after them. They all have seedlings, although Jasmine and Ben seem to be doing better than Thomas. SeedlingsThe sunshine that has been helping the seeds grow has also helped the garden bloom. Yesterday we harvested our first peas of the year and we have a couple of strawberries turning red as well. The peas lasted all of 5 minutes before they had all gone. I doubt the strawberries will last that!Home Grown GoodnessWe love our garden.

From making mud pie to eating freshly picked vegetables, from watching bees and butterflies on the flowers to catching woodlice and spiders from the mud and tadpoles from the pond, swinging, sliding, riding, bouncing, climbing, digging and growing.

We do love our garden.

This post is an entry for BritMums’ #KidsGrowWild Challenge







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Keeping busy in the garden

We have spent the majority of the last couple of days in the garden. The kids love being outside and can happily play out from breakfast to dinner. As long as they have the sand, mud, some bugs and their bikes they are happy!

On Monday I got the tuff spot out for some messy play. We haven’t done any messy play for a while so I knew the kids would enjoy it. I gave them a selection of breakfast cereals and some plastic animals. They have been playing with their animals for a few days now so I thought they’d be a good choice. Of course, inevitably the kids added cars and diggers into the play as well! Cereal playThe kids did also enjoy eating the cereal! I had used granola, corn flakes, oats and Fruit Loops. Thomas loves granola so he was very excited about having that and he ate quite a lot of it! Jasmine chose the oats and although she mostly played, she did eat some. Ben had a bit of everything I think!

Eating cerealThey also invented a treasure hunt game. Jasmine got a yoghurt pot and added some oats and a Fruit Loop. The boys took it in turns to pour out the cereal until they found the Fruit Loop. Once they found it they had won and they were allowed to eat it!Cereal treasure huntWe also did some bird watching on Monday, and whilst we were playing in the garden a robin, a starling, a wood pigeon and some blue tits came to visit us.Birds in the gardenYesterday I went shopping in the morning and the kids stayed at home with Gordon. When I got back they were already playing in the sand and were very happy to tell me they had found a woodlouse spider! I was also told I didn’t need to worry because it was in a bowl and they’d given it some sand and grass!Woodlouse spiderThe rest of the day was spent in the sand and mud; boys in the sand and Jasmine in the mud. I also harvested our first few peas and we enjoyed eating them as an afternoon snack.Playing and peas

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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A Windy Walk on Headley Heath

We woke early this morning (thank you to Thomas and Jasmine) but this did have its benefits. We got a bird feeding station from the garden centre on Wednesday and put it out in the garden on Thursday morning. There has gradually been an increase in the number of birds as they are slowly finding all the food we have put out for them, and this morning as I looked out of the window I saw a woodpecker, first in the apple tree and then on the peanut feeder! It was a wonderful sight and I was very excited! All the kids crowded into our bedroom to watch it.

Shortly after, as we were eating breakfast, we saw a jay as well! So since having the feeder out we have seen lots of blue tits, magpies, wood pigeons, a pair of collared doves, blackbirds, a jay, a robin and a woodpecker! I also saw another small bird this morning but didn’t get a very good look. I think it was a dunnock or a sparrow but I’m not sure so hopefully he’ll be back.Birds in the GardenThis afternoon it rained. There isn’t much to do in our back garden in the rain but we all wanted to get outside, so we went for a walk on Headley Heath.

Actually, for most of the afternoon (after we’d left the house of course) the rain held off, but it was incredibly windy.

We took a new route around Headley Heath today. As we entered through the gate, one of the first things we saw was what we *think* was a badger sett. It was definitely an animal hole and we couldn’t see any evidence of rabbits nearby. There was also a large area of cleared soil, which is what made me think of badgers.

A short walk into the woodland and we found another hole. This time we did see evidence of rabbits so we think this was a rabbit hole. Animal HomesAs we continued our walk the kids did the usual climbing trees, balancing on fallen logs and bug catching. We took a net with us to sweep the ferns, but we didn’t find much today, even in the undergrowth and under logs. We did see a millipede, a lacewing and what we think was a soldier beetle.Headley Heath in JuneToday was mostly just about getting out and walking. It was so windy there wasn’t much to see; even the birds were hiding away! But we still managed to fill almost two hours and have a really wonderful time.


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