The Unplanted

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.

Musk mallow July 2022

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.

Poppy July 2022

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.

Red brown longhorn beetle

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.

Hedgehog 31 July 2022

And so, inevitably, do foxes. My trailcam has caught two cubs nosing about in the garden, about four months old and very curious.

14 thoughts on “The Unplanted

  1. I don’t know much about hedgehogs; if they are out during the day, does this mean that they possibly aren’t getting enough to eat and need to forage more often?
    I love seeing the little foxes coming to your garden. It seems to also be doing well. Cheers.

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    1. Hedgehogs are usually nocturnal, and one that is active by day might have underlying health issues. But this wasn’t much into ‘day’ (early-ish morning) and it was trotting about strongly. Sometimes a female will be active in daylight if she has young to feed, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if the heaviest rain for some time had encouraged the activity of various hedgehog prey, and it was taking advantage of that. It’s been raining on-off here all day, which is most welcome after a hot and dry month.

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  2. Always fun to see what springs in a patch gone wild. My fields still surprise me after many years. I keep saying I have to get a critter cam. I’m sure I’d be amazed at the traffic that scampers through our yard and trails!

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    1. With your garden, I’m sure you’d get some amazing footage! I use Browning trail cams, which are much more user-friendly than most of the other models available.

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      1. Thanks for the tip, Adele. The new bird bath I put out yesterday, was tipped over in the night. I suspect raccoons, but it would have been fun to see how it was done and by whom!

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  3. Buying a trail camera was a real eye-opener as to what/who else uses our garden, and how many of them ‘get on’ or just ignore each other. Even a simple dish of fresh water will bring all sorts in front of your camera.

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