Tag Archives: garden

We’re going on a bug hunt…

25 Jun

Today was a gorgeous sunny day so we decided to get out there and enjoy the garden.  My plan was to do some planting and weeding but of course No. 2 child had other ideas! We ended up going on a bug hunt which was pretty good fun. I did get quite distracted trying to get ‘the perfect shot’ of a Bumble Bee but also managed to spot quite a lot of other wildlife.  The garden was only planted about 5 or 6 years ago but we specifically chose plants that attract wildlife and it does seem to be paying off.

The garden is teeming with hover-flies at the moment

The garden is teeming with hover-flies at the moment

Hover-flies are great as their larvae feed on aphids.  They should have a real feast in our garden at the moment because we have quite a few green-fly, particularly on my roses. I don’t tend to treat them with anything biological, I just give them a blast with some water or sometimes just rub them off with my fingers.

We are yet to identify this one!

Cardinal Beetle

The Cinnabar Moth

The Cinnabar Moth (minus part of a wing)


If my identification is correct then this is a ‘flower bee’.

Our Astrantia (Great Masterwort) are covered with bees and hover flies at the moment and the flowers are so pretty.


Damsel Fly

Lots of Damsel Flies are enjoying the garden at the moment. They are really lovely but I would LOVE to see some really big Dragon Flies. I have only ever seen one of these in our garden and they are quite spectacular.


Love this shot showing his googly eyes!


Bees loving the foxgloves!

It took me ages to get this shot!

There were lots of different bees buzzing around in our garden this morning.  I found a useful bee identification tool on the Natural History Museum website. I haven’t identified this particular bee yet but I’m guessing it’s long ‘pollen grabber’ could be a key to working out which one this is? If anyone knows do get in touch, and I’d also love to know the correct term for ‘pollen grabber’…



Pyrochroa Serraticornis

A small sample of our Froglets. There are loads of them!

A small sample of our Froglets. There are loads of them!

When we’d finished our little bug hunt we came inside (mummy was gasping for a cup of coffee) and looked through our wildlife book to identify the creatures that we had found. Thomas loved doing this and tomorrow I think we will try to draw some of them and write their names.

Dinosaur garden. Recycled tyre project

11 Jun

This Dinosaur Garden is great for pre-schoolers and older children and is very easy to make.

You will need:

An old car tyre – most garages are more than happy to hand an old one over for nothing

Tin of old paint (outdoor paint is best)

Bag of compost

Some rocks, pebbles or stones

Garden Gravel

Prehistoric looking plants… ferns are great for this!

Some Dinosaurs!

How to make it

First paint your tyre. It is best to use outdoor paint if the tyre is not under-cover. Leave to dry overnight.

Line your tyre with an old compost bag. Make a few holes in the bottom for drainage. Fill with compost or earth.

Add a variety of rocks, pebbles or bark.

Plant your prehistoric looking plants and cover the soil with gravel. You don’t have to use gravel but it will prevent weeds growing too quickly and it does make it look quite authentic I think.

Add dinosaurs and enjoy hours of imaginative play!

I spotted this  project in the amazing book Garden Crafts for Children
by Dawn Issac, which I will be reviewing in full in a week or so.  We are quite excited to have dinosaurs in our garden so I couldn’t wait to share this one with you!

Vegetable growing with children

2 Apr

No matter what size garden you have, there is always some kind of space you can use to grow things in.   If you have no garden you can use a sunny windowsill, a window box or even a pot outside the door.  Children LOVE to see something grow which they have planted themselves.  It is a good project for teaching them how to look after something and if they forget to water it for a few days it has less scary consequences then forgetting to feed the pet rabbit!

This year we thought we would attempt growing some vegetables with the children.  We wanted them to be able to see the whole process through from sewing the seeds to picking the crops. In an attempt to keep it fairly easy for them and to keep everything in one place, we invested in a raised bed from our local garden centre. It is easy for them to access and just the right height.

Watering in our seeds!

We decided to grow a few easy crops to start off with. Carrots, Beetroot, Lettuce and Green Beans. They are all vegetables that they enjoy eating, and I’m hoping this will help to keep them interested. We’ve also got a couple of half barrels which we have planted up with potatoes.

The following crops are all suitable for growing in pots or grow bags. If using pots then plastic is better than clay as they are less quick to dry out. Just make sure that your pot is deep enough to accommodate the roots and that the vegetables have enough room to grow.

  • Tomatoes
  • Beans
  • Lettuce
  • Radish
  • Herbs
  • Beetroot
  • Strawberries

If you have a greenhouse or a very sunny window sill, you could also try peppers or aubergine.

Of course you don’t have to use conventional plant pots, why not reuse other containers. You can use old baskets lined with plastic, old buckets and boxes and hanging baskets. As long as there are suitable drainage holes in the bottom and it will not dry out too quickly, anything goes. I once saw a row of old wellies all planted up with salad leaves – I think we might give this a go too!

I will let you know how we get on later in the year.  Are you growing anything with your children this summer?



How To Encourage Some Outdoor Fun

25 Mar

Child play

Now that the sun is shining and the Easter break is fast approaching, it’s time to consider entertainment for the little ones, ideally making the most of the good weather and going outside. The downside to outdoor fun is thinking of what to play. TV and video games are have become so much more convenient, as the game has already been created, but some of my most treasured childhood memories are from having fun in the garden.
Pirate ship
Building your own pirate ship and sailing the seas is great fun. To do this you need somewhere to have the ship. Your garden shed is ideal for this, as wooden planks are already in place, and all you need are some cardboard boxes, a wooden crate or two, and some blue bed sheets.

Place the blue sheets on the floor of the shed. This is, of course, the ocean. The two wooden crates will serve as the captain’s deck, and the boxes can be arranged around these in the shape of a ship. The idea is for the children to create an outline of a pirate ship to encourage them to use their imagination for the game. You can also create a wheel to steer using cardboard and some paint, and a sail using a broomstick and a white bed sheet.

If you don’t have a shed, just build the same design outside.  Our children have hours of fun with cardboard boxes.  It’s amazing what their imagination comes up with sometimes!
Batty Bowling
This game is an easy to do game, and will create hours of fun. The reason it’s called batty bowling is that instead of bowling pins you use any wacky object you have available, such as books, bottles, cereal boxes, milk cartons, or a tower of empty cans. Anything goes in any combination. Bowlers then use a tennis ball to knock them over.
Blind Path
With this game you create an obstacle course from one end of the garden to the other. You can use some empty cans to create a zigzag section, and a plank of wood balanced on some hardcover books to create a balancing beam. At the end of the course there could be a mental challenge. Have two cardboard boxes, one empty and one filled with balls or other toys. The children then have to pick out the tennis balls and put them in the empty box. One at a time the children can complete this course. The added difficulty is that they are timed and blindfolded. Let them examine the course for a moment and then blindfold them. Start the clock and let the fun begin. As the child is blindfolded they will need some assistance either from you of the other player to get on the balancing beam and find the boxes. Getting lost on the path is all part of the fun. Whoever has the best time, wins.
Hop Scotch
A great game to play for small gardens, all you need is a small area of paving.  If you can’t remember the rules, here is a short video which covers everything!

Another great source of outdoor fun is skipping.  This is great exercise and is something that can be done on your own or with friends.  We used to love French Skipping, or French Elastic I think it was called.  Two children stand opposite each other with a long piece of elastic around their ankles (so it is one big loop). A third child stands between them and has to do a number of jumps, skips and hops whilst repeating some skipping rhymes.  Hours of fun can be had with this, just google ‘skipping songs’ if you need some inspiration!

What outdoor games do your children enjoy?