Birdwatching for Beginners - Get ready for the Big Garden Birdwatch 2019!

If rumours are to be believed, it is no longer the reclusive middle-aged pastime, no, millennials are now flocking to … birdwatching!

Birdwatching for Beginners - Get ready for the Big Garden Birdwatch 2019!

Just like meditation, journalling and rambling, birdwatching brings a new mindfulness to our busy lives, and one can be completely entranced; drawn into and absorbed by the beauty of nature and the flocks’ social dynamics. Indeed, an article by the Telegraph states that ‘It’s meditation in the sense that it’s immersive and therapeutic, but birdwatching can also be more visceral than any theatre. There is death, love and beauty: the horror of the migratory impulse which lures incomprehensibly fragile little birds over perilously stormy seas; the joy when a pair reunites after months apart; the mystery of starling murmurations, in which thousands of the birds, densely-packed, ripple through the air like iron filings manipulated by an unseen magnet.’

Whilst it’s recommended that a novice birdwatcher uses a guidebook or app to look up birds and their songs, and visit a local RSPB reserve to be gifted with a plethora of feathered friends, this weekend - the 26-28 January - marks the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, a great excuse to watch your garden birds.

With over half a million people now regularly taking part, coupled with almost 40 years worth of data, the Big Garden Birdwatch allows the RSPB to monitor trends and understand how birds are doing. Although as a nation we've lost more than half our house sparrows and some three-quarters of our starlings - it isn't all doom and gloom. Since Birdwatch began blue tit numbers have risen by 20 per cent and the woodpigeon population has increased by a whopping 800 per cent. By testing your bird spotting skills and submitting your findings this weekend, it gives scientists valuable information about our local bird populations, and what we can do to help.

Our top tips for starting your foray into twitcherdom this weekend?

  1. Choose a good place to watch from. Which window gives you the best view? Make sure it's comfy and you have the essentials within easy reach - a nice, hot drink and your favourite biscuits - and somewhere to jot down what you see.

  2. Relax and watch the birds for an hour. Count the maximum number of each species you see at any one time. For example, if you see a group of three house sparrows together and later another two, and after that another one, the number to submit is three. That way, it’s less likely you’ll double-count the same birds.

  3. Head over to the Big Garden Birdwatch page and submit what you’ve seen.

So who can you keep an eye out for in your garden or outdoor space?

  • A colourful mix of blue, yellow, white and green makes the blue tit one of our most attractive and most recognisable garden visitors, while its less colourful relative - the coal tit - has a distinctive grey back, black cap, and white patch at the back of its neck.

  • Everyone knows the house sparrow, but its numbers have dropped alarmingly. They're still common garden visitors in many areas, though. Males have a black chin and 'bib'; females are dressed in more subtle shades of brown.

  • You may be able to spot a chaffinch hopping on the ground, looking for seeds. Male chaffinches have a subtle pink breast, while females are more brown. They both have distinctive black and white flashes on their wings.

  • It’s likely that you will hear the collared dove before you see it, with its comforting ‘coo-coo-coo-coo’ call. A pale, pinky-brown grey colour, with a distinctive black neck collar, They have deep red eyes and reddish feet, and are responsible for repetitive cooing songs and those twiggy nests on your satellite dish.

  • The woodpigeon, however, is now the UK's largest and commonest pigeon, and is largely grey with a white neck patch and white wing patches, clearly visible in flight. Woodpigeons also have beautiful pinkish and turquoise hints to their plumage.

  • You may spot the classic blackbird and also their smaller friend the starling. Smaller than blackbirds, with a short tail, pointy head and wings, starlings look black at a distance but when seen closer they are very glossy with a sheen of purples and greens. In winter they're covered in pale spots - which gives them their name.

Ensure you have a mixture of foods out to tempt your new feathered friends into the garden, remember that whilst some birds like chaffinches are not so keen on using bird feeders and generally prefer to shuffle around on the ground, picking up seeds that other birds have dropped; others like blackbirds eat a variety of foods, from earthworms to fruits like apples and berries. Visit the RSPB website to explore more of the perfect menu for your birdwatching weekend!

I would love to know, how will you #BigGardenBirdWatch? Do you have plans to register onlineand gather much valued data, or are you planning to venture further afield to your nearest hide?

 
Hill-Lowres-24-1_62b9d0aa581d2802b7439713362adfe3.jpg

Janet Hill

I’m Janet, and I live at the foot of the beautiful Welsh Hills with my children Mary, 21, and Mark, 18. We share our four-acre plot with our six dogs, six cats, four hens, an assortment of wild ducks and all the other wonderful wildlife that visits our garden.

Notes from a Nemophilist

Walking at twilight on a crisp winter evening with the light stretched thin across the landscape and the exquisite forms of unrobed trees exposed against the crepuscular sky, it is easy to see why artists lust after the beautiful contours and shapes created by their dark-limbed outlines.

Notes from a Nemophilist


As a fully paid-up nemophilist, I recently joined the Facebook group Britain’s Ancient and Sacred Trees, where I regularly share posts and photographs with fellow tree-huggers across the land – along with those who admire our trees from afar – to further indulge my passion for these quiet sentinels of our countryside. It was here that I encountered the extremely talented Marie Roberts, a trained fine artist, who produces astonishing work across multiple mediums - painting and printmaking, sculpture, and textiles, all informed and inspired by the natural world, although it was, quite aptly, a post of one of her ‘tree pictures’ which caught my attention.

Visiting Marie’s website is like wandering through rooms full of precious curios: there, amongst delicate gilded birds’ nests, decorated animal skulls, painted seashells reminiscent of small fragments of Delft china, and intricately embroidered bugs and spiders, you will find her joyous and expressive paintings in celebration of trees. Clearly enthralled by the natural world, Marie is inspired by the beautiful and diverse surroundings of the village of Kinver, in South Staffordshire, where she lives and works. Since childhood she has been fascinated by trees: “especially the older trees which have stood for so long and seem so noble and wise!”, and her local woodland provides rich inspiration for her work. For 2019, she has undertaken to paint a tree for every month of the year (January’s tree is shown here), each one depicted inside a mandala, or sacred circle, painted with water colours, earth pigments and ink, and embellished with 24 carat gold and pure silver.

Another happy find from the same Facebook group is Sarah Jameson, an artist originally from Wales, now living and working in the Shropshire hills. She too works across different mediums, including photography, monoprints, and pen and ink drawings, also gleaning her creative inspiration from nature. Her sensitive and atmospheric photographs and drawings demonstrate her obvious love for our trees and woodlands as she records them throughout the seasons. She says: “I have drawn trees since I was a child and am lucky to live in a part of the world where there are so many beautiful trees, woods and hedges.”

An indispensable book for any tree lover is ‘The New Sylva’, written by Dr. Gabriel Hemery, with 200 exquisite drawings by internationally renowned artist, Sarah Simblet. Subtitled ‘A Discourse of Forest & Orchard Trees for the 21st Century’, the book is an interpretation for modern times of the book ‘Sylva’, written in 1664 by horticulturist and diarist John Evelyn. Within its sumptuous pages, Gabriel, who amongst other things is a Silvologist (or forest scientist to you and me!), describes our most important British trees, with in-depth sections looking at their cultural, environmental and economic history. He also writes the forestry blog gabrielhemery.com ‘celebrating the wonders of trees, forests and woods’, and is Chief Executive of the Sylva Foundation, an environmental charity he co-founded in 2009, besides being a talented photographer of trees and forests, which he features in his website The Tree Photographer.

Each season has a beauty of its own, and winter is undoubtedly the best time to fully appreciate the magical forms of trees, sometimes powerful, sometimes graceful, sometimes ethereal. Although our forests, woods and trees may seem devoid of life during the winter months, do not be deceived into thinking that nothing is going on as you walk through the quiet woodland; the trees are simply resting. Their leaf mould has become a deep and fertile layer providing food and cover for countless insects and animals, and will enrich the woodland floor with precious nutrients for the continuation of life. Soon, and almost imperceptibly, fresh leaves and buds will reappear on the twigs and branches, birds will return to claim their territories and set up home in the green canopy, and we will once again hear the soft hum of bees as they go about their business. Make the most, then, of the quiet grace of our leafless winter trees and the dark lattice-work of their branches against the sky, before we celebrate the return of spring, and with it, the vibrancy of new life.

 
Headshot-for-Bio_62b9d0aa581d2802b7439713362adfe3.jpg

Sonia Goulding

Sonia lives with her other half, Jon, and her two gorgeous dogs Alfie and Seren, in the pretty hill village of Cilcain, in the glorious Clwydian Hills. She is passionate about rural north Wales and enjoys researching and writing about the people she meets and the beautiful businesses on our doorstep. Sonia and Jon consider themselves very lucky to be able to live and work in such wonderful surroundings, counting their blessings every day!

Reasons to be loving houseplants this January

Ahhhhhh, the humble houseplant, from dainty orchids to brightly coloured Gerbera and spindly leaved spider plants, they brighten our homes and help to bring a little touch of nature inside. When the days are dark, and our time spent outdoors can be limited, it can be ideal to add some greenery to your home!

But that’s not all. Did you know that your houseplants are little health super heroes in disguise?

Houseplant Appreciation Day (falling on the 10th January) was started by The Gardener’s Network, establishing an official opportunity to remind people of the benefits of houseplants. Often with Christmas fading into the past, our homes lose some of their beauty and joy, which makes Houseplant Appreciation Day the perfect opportunity to brighten up the home with the sharp splash of green of a living plant! 

Reasons to be loving houseplants this January - The Hills Countryside Blog

There is research abound that promotes a multitude of health benefits gained from keeping some vegetation in your home; from improving sleep quality to removing harmful toxins from the air inside your home; your houseplants are hiding a whole host of super secret health benefits.

Here’s the 7 top reasons you should be stocking up on greenery this January:

1. Plants can make you happier

Simply having plants present in your home can reduce stress and anxiety, increase feelings of calm and generally help you to feel happier and more satisfied with life. Research has shown that plants can even help ease feelings of depression and promote a general sense of wellbeing.

2. Plants help to purify the air

In a world where we’re surrounded by toxins and air pollution, plants can help to even the balance. How does the air in our homes get polluted? Smoke from cigarettes, open fires and wood burners plays a role, as do mould and mildew, household cleaners packed with chemicals and even the air fresheners we use.

Fancy a few facts from NASA? Well in tests run on sealed environments by the space agency, they found that:

Both plant leaves and roots are utilised in removing trace levels of toxic vapours from inside tightly sealed buildings.”

And

“Low levels of carbon monoxide can be removed from indoor environments by plant leaves alone.”

According to the space agency you need at least 1 potted plant per 100ft of indoor space and for the best results, use:

  • Peace Lily

  • Spider Plants

  • Golden Pothos

  • English Ivy

  • Chrysanthemum

  • Gerbera Daisy

  • Snake Plant, aka Mother-in-laws tongue

  • Bamboo palm

  • Azalea

  • Aloe Vera

  • Red-edge Dracaena

3. Plants help you recover from illness faster

Whilst the humble houseplant won’t be fully replacing paracetamol anytime soon, there is evidence to show that they can aid recovery. In studies where plants were used in hospital recovery rooms, patients displayed an increased pain tolerance and recovered from post-operational pain faster. And that’s not all; further studies performed in hospitals showed that patients with plants in their rooms had lower blood pressure and heart rates than patients whose rooms did not contain plants. So send flowering plants next time to a friend or family member that is convalescing!

4. Plants help you to concentrate

A study by The Royal College of Agriculture in Cirencester, found that attendance was higher for lectures given in classrooms with plants than in those without. What’s more, those students being taught in classrooms with plants were 70% more attentive than those in classrooms without. Perhaps popping a small plant on your desk might help you do better in business too! I have a white orchid on my desk!

5. Plants help people cut down on sick days

Speaking of business, if you own one you might want to think about making sure that your staff have access to plenty of indoor foliage. Like the students above, it could help improve their productivity and cut down on the number of sick days taken.

A workplace study commissioned by The Dutch Product Board for Horticulture found that adding plants to office settings decreased the instances of colds, headaches, coughs, sore throats and flu-like symptoms.

In another study by the Agricultural University of Norway, sickness rates were almost 60% lower in offices with plants.

6. Plants can help you to sleep better

Here’s a fun fact for you. As you probably know, during photosynthesis, plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, which makes them super useful for keeping a room fresh during the day. But what happens at night when photosynthesis stops?

Most plants release carbon dioxide at night, but not all. Some plants continue to release oxygen, making them a great choice for your bedroom. By keeping the air around you oxygenated, you can enjoy a better night’s sleep.

Try placing orchids, succulents and epiphytic bromeliads in your bedroom and see if they can help improve your slumber!

7. Plants humidify the air

Do you suffer from dry skin? Are you prone to dry coughs and a blocked nose? Dry air can play havoc with your health, particularly during the colder months.

Placing a few plants in your immediate environment could help. Plants are natural humidifiers, releasing roughly 97% of the water they take in. Place several plants together in a room and you can increase the humidity and keeps coughs and colds at bay. The Boston Fern is thought to be the best plant for humidifying the air in a room, as are the Areca Palm, Spider Plants, Snake Plants and Peace Lilies.

So, a pretty persuasive argument I’m sure you will agree. If you don’t feel green-fingered, maybe start slowly with a hard-to-kill cactus or succulent, and work your way up to the popular Monstera!

Tell us, are you already a proud plant parent, or have we convinced you to head to your local garden centre today?

 
26733445_10215269119821202_4955457141529243330_n_1bd5074d9fbccfcbf3305d3483dff8d8.jpg

Janet Hill

I’m Janet, and I live at the foot of the beautiful Welsh Hills with my children Mary, 21, and Mark, 18. We share our four-acre plot with our six dogs, six cats (plus a cheeky regular overnight visitor!), four hens, an assortment of wild ducks and all the other wonderful wildlife that visits our garden.

Rooted in History

There’s something wonderful about walking through a wood in the company of trees. Whether enjoying the soft, green light filtering through the fresh, unfurling leaves of spring, the crowded canopy of summer, alive with the sound of a thousand things, the glowing cathedral of stained-glass autumn leaves with the wistful whisperings of their memory underfoot, or the coldly naked silhouettes of winter, woodlands are magical places, and trees hold a special place in our hearts: we’ve climbed them, played amongst them, dreamed beneath them, even hugged them – and I’m sure we’ve all simply just wondered at them.

Here, I’m taking a look at two of the longest-living and most iconic trees of our islands - the mighty oak and the venerable yew, both of which feature large in our collective mythologies, and in particular, I’ll be shining a light on the dark and mysterious tales surrounding some notable trees here in North Wales.

Rooted in History


OAK – THE GUARDIAN

Known as the King of Trees, the oak provides food and shelter for a greater variety of wildlife than any other tree species in Britain. Symbolising wisdom, strength and steadfastness, oaks have long been regarded as guardians and protectors, and were believed by the Druids to be portals into the spirit world, along with the ash and the thorn. This trinity of trees was believed to be inhabited by guardian spirits - touching wood for luck is rooted in the age-old custom of touching a tree to ask for the favour and divine blessing of the spirit dweller within. The name ‘Druid’ possibly derives from the Proto-Celtic “deru weid”, meaning “knowledge of the oak”.

Old country lore also attributed oaks with great healing powers – in some places their curative power was thought so great that it was enough to simply walk around an oak tree, wishing one’s illness or ailment to be carried off by the first bird to alight on its branches - and in Wales, rubbing an oak tree with the palm of the left hand on Midsummer’s Day was believed to keep you healthy all year! Toothache could be cured by driving a nail into the trunk, and a further attribute of the oak was that carrying an acorn in your pocket was believed to prevent ageing (I’m sensing a new business opportunity here!). Chirk, in North Wales, boasts two of the oldest and most important oaks in Wales, and indeed, the UK, and although one has unfortunately fallen, their tales are intriguing and fascinating…


THE OAK AT THE GATE OF THE DEAD

One of Britain’s oldest oaks can be found on Offa’s Dyke and goes by the magnificent name of ‘The Oak at the Gate of the Dead’, a tree believed to be over 1,000 years old, and so-named because of the nearby burial of the dead from the 1165 Battle of Crogen. The area was commonly known up until the 19th century as Adwy'r Beddau (The Pass of the Graves), and according to one account, some of the graves could still be seen as late as 1697, with land on either side of the dyke known as Tir y Beddau (Land of the Graves).

The battle took place in the Ceiriog Valley, near Chirk, between the forces of Henry II of England and an alliance of Welsh princes, led by Owain Gwynedd. Henry brought a massive army to Oswestry, while the Welsh army gathered in Corwen, and the two sides eventually clashed in battle on the Dyke. Ultimately, the English were driven back, but not without bloody losses on both sides.

The tree can be found in the Ceiriog Valley, around 300 metres from Chirk Castle. It is the younger cousin of the famous Pontfadog Oak (see below) and was a finalist in the 2014 European Tree of the Year awards, the first Welsh tree to be entered. A beloved local landmark, this tree was even one of the first in the world to have its own Facebook page!


THE PONTFADOG OAK

Once known as Wales’ national tree, and estimated to have been around 1200 - 1600 years old, this wonderful old tree was blown down in the early hours of 18th April 2013 by fierce gales which swept across the country – until then, it was believed to have been the oldest and largest oak in the UK, with a girth of 16m (53ft). The hollow trunk was of such a size it was said that 6 people once sat around a table inside it, and a 19th century story tells of a bull, which had been missing for two days, eventually being found safe and well within the tree!

It’s amazing to think that this tree was already ancient when Owain Gwynedd rallied his troops to it before going on to defeat Henry II at the Battle of Crogen in 1165.

The loss of such a great icon of the countryside was understandably met with great sadness and consternation, especially from the locals, for whom this tree had been a constant and reassuring presence. However, scions (cuttings) have been taken from the ancient tree, and it is hoped that a clone can be successfully planted in the future.

YEW – THE SENTINEL

Often associated with grave-yards, yew trees are exceptionally long-lived, and apparently aren’t considered ancient until they’ve lived for around 900 years (in comparison to 400 for an oak)! Such a long life span means that many have been present at important dates in our history: for instance, the Magna Carta was signed and sealed beneath a yew tree; that same tree is also said to have been used by Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn as a meeting place for their trysts.

The Druids revered the yew for its association with death and rebirth: ‘that darkness is the matrix from which light springs forth, and that out of death, life arises’, and it was later taken up by Christians who regarded it as a natural emblem of everlasting life because of the tree’s amazing ability to regenerate itself.

North Wales is home to many yew trees, but here we have two with extraordinary tales to tell!

THE LLANGERNYW YEW

Believed to be around 4000 years old, this yew stands in the grounds of St. Dygain’s Church, in the County Borough of Conwy. One of the world’s oldest trees and probably the oldest living thing in Wales, it was planted sometime in the prehistoric Bronze Age, and is still growing!

As old and beautiful as this tree may be, it is also associated with a chilling legend, that of the Angelystor, or ‘Recording Angel’.

Each year on 31st July and again at Hallowe'en, the Angelystor is said to appear in the medieval church to solemnly announce the names of those parish members who will shortly die.

Legend tells how, one Hallowe'en, local tailor, Siôn ap Robert, laughingly ridiculed the idea of the existence of the Angelystor while drinking in a local pub.

To take him down a peg or two, locals dared him to go to the church there and then. With a certain amount of bluster, off he went, determined to make a mockery of the tale.

On arriving at the church however, he could hear a deep voice from within, and on getting closer, he heard his own name being recited! Coldly and suddenly, his bravado evaporated. "Hold, hold!" he cried. "I am not yet ready!”, but to no avail: he died later that year.

Many villagers today still believe in the existence of the Angelystor – would you go and test the tale yourself, even after a few drinks at the pub?! On a happier note, in recognition of its place in the nation’s heritage, the Llangernyw Yew was designated as one of ‘50 Great British Trees’ to mark the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, in 1977.

THE PULPIT YEW

Believed to be around 1500 years old, this ancient yew can be found in the churchyard of St James’ Parish Church, in Nantglyn, Denbighshire. Amazingly, it was converted, possibly in the 18th century, into an outdoor pulpit with the addition of local Welsh slate steps leading up to a podium from which to preach. Many sermons have been preached from here, even, it is said, by John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church.

Following nominations from the public, it was shortlisted by the Woodland Trust for their ‘Tree of the Year’ competition in 2017, but it sadly lost out to The Hollow Tree in Port Talbot, which went on the represent the UK in the 2018 European Tree of the Year.

There are many more remarkable yew trees across North Wales; some (possibly dating back as far as the Tudors), can be found clinging to the limestone cliffs in Llandudno - and further afield, in Nevern, Dyfed, the famous yew trees there bleed a red sap every year.

BACK TO OUR ROOTS

The myths, legends and stories recounted here have been chosen to give just a glimpse of the extraordinary tales which surround us every day, hiding just out of sight. However, if you are prepared to take a closer look, the secrets will reveal themselves, or at least, part of themselves, and if you listen, ancient tales can still be heard, whispering to us from dark corners.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of the beautiful and fascinating trees of Wales, and that like me, you’ve been caught up in the threads of the folklore wrapped around their roots and branches.


JOIN IN! CELEBRATING TREES IN YOUR AREA

National Tree Week (24th November – 2nd December)

This a great chance for communities to do something positive for the trees in their local area. Each year, around 200 schools and community groups support the initiative by setting up fun, worthwhile and accessible events. Up to a quarter of a million people take part, getting their hands dirty, having fun, and planting around a million trees! For more information:

Tree Dressing Day (first weekend in December)

Organised by Common Ground - Tree Dressing Day is designed to encourage people and communities to get together to celebrate the trees within their local area. It aims to provide education and highlight the responsibility of looking after our trees.

 
Headshot-for-Bio_62b9d0aa581d2802b7439713362adfe3.jpg

Sonia Goulding

Sonia lives with her other half, Jon, and her two gorgeous dogs Alfie and Seren, in the pretty hill village of Cilcain, in the glorious Clwydian Hills. She is passionate about rural north Wales and enjoys researching and writing about the people she meets and the beautiful businesses on our doorstep. Sonia and Jon consider themselves very lucky to be able to live and work in such wonderful surroundings, counting their blessings every day!

The Great Dead-Head Debate

No, I’m not giving tips about something gory in preparation for Halloween, today I am heading out into the garden and getting it ready for winter! In this case, ‘deadheading’ is the gardening term used for the removal of faded or dead flowers from plants.

The Great Dead-Head Debate - The Hills Countryside Blog


As the summer sun fades and the ground becomes cool and damp, our favourite blooms have started to wilt. For many of us keen gardeners, this is the ideal time to remove the dead flowers from their stems, as for many years we have been told that deadheading diverts the plant’s energy from producing seed pods, into more flowers for now or next season. If you’re like most gardeners, (I actually enjoy it) deadheading may feel like a tedious, never-ending garden chore, but the new blooms spawned from this task can make the extra effort well worth it (Gardening Know-How).

The Telegraph’s resident green-thumbed editor Bunny Guinness tells us that ‘Deadheading is a smart piece of trickery: you are fooling your plants into believing they are still youthful. As soon as they are allowed to set seed, chemical messages are sent back telling flower production to stop. Stop them doing this, and they will continue to look beautiful. Flowers such as dahlias, cosmos, roses, abutilons, galega, pelargoniums, knautias, and many more will repay huge dividends for a quick snip.’

However, she raises an important point, one with which my favourite garden writer Monty Don agrees - that there are many plants which don’t need deadheading and will in fact provide a bountiful glut for wildlife in your garden over the winter and spring months. She says; ‘I do believe that some flowers should be left as they are, however. I let seeds form from the last flowers on my buddleia to ensure smaller birds have some tasty food, likewise on my sunflowers. I love the look of them as the pungent yellow changes to a sludgy brown, framed by contrasting bright green sepals. Others such as cornflowers and rudbeckias are left attached for handy bird snacks, too.’

When flowers produce seeds or fruits, they can attract wild birds, insects and other creatures to your garden, which when most of our foliage is otherwise dying back, can be a feast for those preparing for winter or hibernation. If you want wild birds, let the flowers go to seed; they enjoy perching on Echinacea (coneflowers) and snacking on the seed heads, and plants like Rudbeckia are great for attracting goldfinches with their seeds. This is crucial food for them in the winter.

Whilst wildlife is just one argument for leaving your garden ‘au naturel’, there are many more reasons, including next year’s hard work (or lack thereof). Some flowers can self-seed, meaning that their seeds will drop down to the potting soil below and sprout new plants without any work from the gardener! If you aren’t precious about your borders, leaving the blooms to seed may ease your efforts the following year and surprise you with new plants filling in the gaps spontaneously.

In many gardens, no deadheading guidelines apply in the autumn, and many gardeners feel that plants have very decorative seed pods and present a beautiful display in the garden during the winter. Examples include alliums; love-in-a-mist (Nigella), stinking iris (Iris foetidissima) and bladder cherry (Physalis alkekengi).

Finally, thankfully some obliging plants simply do not need deadheading and I make sure there is a good mix all types at home. Typically fuchsias, bedding lobelia and salvias either don't set much seed or neatly deadhead themselves - which saves me a job at least!

Making a decision about deadheading can be difficult because it is advantageous for some plants and detrimental for others. You may choose to deadhead some flower species every day in midsummer, while leaving other plants alone. It’s entirely up to you. Your garden is exactly that – your garden. Enjoy it the way you want!

Are you a keen gardener? Are you carting your handy trug and secateurs around with you, or are you letting nature take its course?

 
Hill-Lowres-24-1_62b9d0aa581d2802b7439713362adfe3.jpg

Janet Hill

I’m Janet, and I live at the foot of the beautiful Welsh Hills with my children Mary, 21, and Mark, 18. We share our four-acre plot with our six dogs, six cats, four hens, an assortment of wild ducks and all the other wonderful wildlife that visits our garden.