Skip navigation

Wildlife Garden blog

2 Posts tagged with the primrose tag
0

With the Wildlife Garden opening earlier this week and our first event of the year due to happen this Saturday 6 April, Larissa has been looking around the garden for the first signs of Spring ...

 

"Sitting at my desk in the Wildlife Garden shed, I heard something scratching outside. Thinking the squirrels were raiding the bird seed, I crept to the window to catch them at it. No squirrels, then the sound came again but from under my feet. It was the foxes confirming our suspicions they had taken up residence under the shed again.

 

Despite the chilly weather persisting, the garden is slowly beginning to wake up around us with the first bluebells, daffodils, primroses and cowslips appearing, and the blackthorn beginning to blossom.

 

NHM1 (1).jpg

Wild daffodils in the Wildlife Garden were some of the first to flower this year.

© Derek Adams

 

The leaves of the wild garlic have carpeted the woodland in one area while, in another, dog’s mercury is making an appearance.

 

NHM2.jpg

A squirrel climbs a tree above the wild garlic covering the woodland floor.

© Jonathan Jackson


However, this is a poor show compared to last year when around this time wood anemone, marsh marigold, wood sorrel, and wild cherry amongst others were all in flower.

 

NHM3.jpg

A bumblebee enjoys the nectar from a hybrid bluebell in 2012. We haven't spotted many bumblebees yet this year.

©  Jonathan Jackson  

 

Although the sleepy frogs and toads are yet to wake up, the birds are gathering supplies for their nests. This wren spent a whole day meticulously constructing a nest only for it to be blown down the next day.

 

 

 

This wren spent the whole day building a nest precariously balanced on the shed porch ... Unfortunately the wind blew down its efforts the next day!

© Larissa Cooper


It’s not just the wrens who have been busy. The moorhens have been spotted carefully choosing dry leaves and pieces of reed before carrying their finds into their nest box. The box is so full - as you can see from the picture below - there is scarcely space for the moorhens themselves. The moorhens are not the only birds on the pond preparing for spring. Over the last couple of weeks, a group of mallards have also been visiting the garden on a daily basis.

 

NHM5.jpg

You can see just how full the moorhen nest box is!

© Larissa Cooper

 

The staff and volunteers in the garden are just as active with preparations for the opening of the garden at the beginning of April. The laid hedges have all had a trim to encourage bushy growth which will benefit both the birds looking to nest and the small mammals which hide in the base of the hedge.

 

NHM6.jpg

One of our laid hedges trimmed and ready for spring growth.

© Larissa Cooper

 

In some of the hedges we have added new whips (the name given to nursery-grown small trees and hedge plants) to fill a few gaps. Elder and wild cherry have been added to the hedge bordering the Darwin centre courtyard and the Wildlife Garden and will be allowed to mature within the hedgerow providing nectar for insects and food for birds.

 

I love this time of year, if only it was a little warmer…"

 

Thank you Larissa


Watch out for details of our Spring Wildlife and other events on our web page.

1

The first flowers of the season are now bravely emerging - primrose, coltsfoot, wild daffodil and sweet violet - a welcome sign of spring and a reward for the hours spent raking plane tree leaves! These plants would have been submerged below thick piles of plane tree leaf litter, had we not removed the plane leaves last autumn - one of the tasks described by Nicky in the second part of her year in the life of a Wildlife Garden volunteer:

 

Wild+daffodil+-02222013-031 (Custom).JPG

Wild daffodil, Narcissus pseudonarcissus, on 22nd February

Image © Jonathan Jackson

 

Wildlife Garden-02222013-046 violet 2(Custom).JPG

Sweet violet, Viola odorata, on 22nd February

Image © Jonathan Jackson

 

“As autumn arrives, the Wildlife Garden closes in October to the public to enable vital maintenance work to take place. The sheep are here grazing the meadow, and people are often surprised to see them in central London. With waders on I help to clear the pond of overgrown plants, hoping I won’t fall in.


The Garden is surrounded by plane trees which are non-native and protected but, as the leaves start to fall, the huge job of raking and recycling the leaves begins. The light levels are low now, the air crisp and us happy band of volunteers set to work.

 

Autumn-colours_plane leaves Derek 4.(Custom).JPG

A thick layer of plane tree litter in December!

Image © Derek Adams

 

 

As I rake carefully around the plants and gather up the leaves, the soil is exposed and I notice a little robin is watching me, pleased that an unlucky worm or two is to be had. I see something else move and go in to investigate, and find a frog that probably isn’t too pleased about being disturbed.

 

NaturalHistoryMuseum_PictureLibrary_001 5.871_IA[1] (Custom).JPG

A robin, Erithacus rubecula

Image © Phil Hurst

 

“Excuse me but could you tell me if the huge department store is this way?" Startled, I look up at the railings on the street, “Yes just keep walking and it’s on your right, you can’t miss it”. For a moment I had forgotten that I was in the centre of a major city. There is a constant hum of cars and sirens and chatter of people outside the fence around the Garden, yet I hardly notice it as there are too many other things to grab my attention.


The autumnal colours are wonderful, the bright yellow cherry tree leaves and the red and green spindle leaves with cerise coloured berries are magnificent. Is that a fox in the trees who’s been watching me?  In a second he’s gone.

Autumn-colours_12 (Custom).JPG

Autumn colours

Image © Derek Adams

 

As the light starts to fade I look up at the Museum and it takes on a whole new look. I must confess the glass front of the Darwin Centre next to us gives some fantastic views and if I find the time I like to ride up and down in the lift just to take in that of the Wildlife Garden. I’m sure that wasn’t on any list of attractions!

 

New Image -view from lift8(Custom).JPG

The Wildlife Garden as viewed through the windows of the Darwin Centre in December last year

Image © Sue Snell

 

When it's almost dark in the Garden, it’s time to go; the arrival of the Museum's Ice Rink and its accompanying carousel that light up the other side of the lawn is a sure sign Christmas is approaching. One last look before I head for home, I smile to myself and think what an amazing place.”

 

We look forward to another year working with Nicky.