Creating a garden meadow is like opening a hotel: you have some idea of who your guests might be, but there’s always a surprise or two. Not everything that’s moved into my restored garden rectangle has flown or hopped there – this is musk mallow, a native wild plant very popular with bees that decided to plant itself.
And near to it, a field poppy, a familiar splash of crimson across Norfolk’s arable farms and road verges but also at home in a garden.
The poppy is the child of ‘seed rain’ – the natural dispersal of seeds by wind and wild things. The mallow may have been dormant in the soil when it arrived. Around them, white and bladder campion, wild carrot and ribwort plantain are now also in bloom, flanked by basal rosettes of many other species that won’t flower until next summer.
There’s already a buzz of bees, moths and butterflies, and occasionally something rather rarer. My biggest celebrity so far is this red-brown longhorn beetle Stictoleptura rubra, an uncommon species that spends three years as a larva feeding on conifer wood and fungi before emerging as a nectar-seeking adult.
As for the mammals, they seem to have coped with the drought. Hedgehogs are still visiting the garden, but I also saw one on my walk this morning, scurrying across a lawn. A hedgehog active in daylight can be a cause for concern, but it seemed in robust health and to have a clear idea of where it was heading.
And so, inevitably, do foxes. My trailcam has caught two cubs nosing about in the garden, about four months old and very curious.