Gardener Chloe takes over the CAT blog for a week

by Chloe Ward Display Gardens

Hello. I’m Chloe and I work on CAT’s display gardens. This week I’m taking over the CAT blog.

Everything is happening at once just now, so we’re frantically trying to keep up with the sowing, weeding and planting. It’s been very, very sunny and the plants are shooting ahead with lots a fresh green growth and it seems to me like the apple blossom is much earlier than usual this spring.

In the display gardens it’s not just about growing organic food and creating good habitats for wildlife, but also about showing our visitors what we’re doing and why. I love doing my veg patches, but I also have a few pet subjects, which I’ll be talking about this week. One is forest gardening which I’ve been interested in for over twenty years. Another is seed saving. It’s rewarding to grow veg from seed you’ve saved yourself, but it’s even more rewarding to help keep a vegetable variety in existence. That’s what we’re doing at CAT with some of our veg that we save seeds from.

Looking forward to comparing notes with other gardeners this week.

Nature corner: the slow-worm

by Rennie Telford

Morning Everyone, As I was going down the garden steps yesterday, I caught a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye and looked down to find a handsome male slow-worm which had left the safety of the undergrowth and was making the hazardous journey across the path to the other side. For a normally unobtrusive creature it seemed to be doing everything it could to attract attention, it was zig-zagging along the ground in a rapid writhing motion and the sun was reflecting brightly off its beautiful metallic bronze skin. When it reached the other side of the path and started to disappear into the dead leaves though it really came into its element, it slowed right down and as it burrowed under the leaves it became perfectly camouflaged, occasionally lifting its head and flicking its tongue in and out as it explored its surroundings. Slow-worms (of which there are plenty around site) need to be secretive as they are preyed upon by just about everything you can think of, cats, badgers, hedgehogs, rats, mice, owls, thrushs, chickens and even snakes. They are in fact legless lizards and like lizards have a tail which breaks off easily which can be an effective escape mechanism, leaving a somewhat bewildered predator holding a portion of slow-worm as the main bit makes a hasty retreat. The scientific name reflects this-Anguis fragilis. Another form of defence they have is the ability to eject a foul smelling liquid if handled roughly although I have only experienced this once, normally they seem very placid creatures and although I don’t advocate handling wild animals unnecessarily, there is something wonderfully tactile in the cool, smooth feel of a slow-worms skin. Fascinating creatures.

PS. Listen out for the drumming of the Greater Spotted Woodpecker as you come up the south drive, it has realy been giving it some the last few mornings.