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If You Build It They Will Come...

There's a froggy in my garden

There’s a froggy in my garden

I love the new RSPB ad on the telly at the moment. The message is simple; if we don’t make a home for nature there will be no nature. It is sad that in 2013 there is still so much short sightedness where nature and wildlife are concerned. Fortunately there are many organizations and individuals who are dedicated to protecting wildlife and making a ‘home’ for nature. Wildlife gardening is an easy way to provide sanctuary for all manner of creatures, from woodlice to hedgehogs.

The great thing about it too is that you don’t need to have acres and acres of land. A simple flower box filled with nectar rich flowers will attract bumblebees and butterflies to your garden. An upturned bin lid or washing up bowl will provide a wonderful habitat for frogs, newts and dragonflies. Wildlife gardening is also relatively fuss-free in that the less you disturb your garden the better. Forget fancy topiary and well-manicured lawns – this is definitely my kind of gardening! Plus there is nothing quite as rewarding as looking out the window to see wildlife happily going about it’s business.

For the past 3-years I have entered the Kent Wildlife Gardening Award Scheme. When I first applied I really had no idea what I was doing. To be honest I still don’t, but every day I learn a little bit more. My first year I remember talking to the Kent Wildlife volunteer who came out to assess my garden. I told her that eventually I wanted to have a garden big enough for a pond as I really wanted to create a habitat for dragonflies, frogs and newts. Her words, “what are you waiting for?!”, still ring in my ears. She gave me the tip about filling the base of a large flowerpot with water and putting it in a place where it would be undisturbed. The area next to my little greenhouse seemed perfect.

Within months I noticed a little frog sitting in the middle of it. This year I have put another flowerpot base down and within days a young frog was spotted sitting on the rim. It really is true what the new RSPB ad says: If you build it they will come! Please consider giving a home to nature in your garden, our wildlife really needs all the help it can get.

Here are some great websites to help you start gardening for wildlife.


Kent Wildlife Trust

Natural England





Either side of my greenhouse seemed like the ideal place to put my makeshift ponds. It is well protected by plants such as Virginia Creeper and Borage.  



Froggy close upHere is a close up of one of the frogs in my garden. I actually have no idea how many frogs there are but I have seen at least 3 of varying sizes. As far as I know this is a common frog.


If you haven’t seen the new RSPB ad campaign here it is (it always makes a little weepy…)


It wants brains….....


Obviously not content with having eaten half my garden, the snails want in! I can say with some authority that it is more than a little disturbing to see snails gradually covering all the windows of your home. Of course I don’t mind snails per se and I certainly wouldn’t kill them, but some sort of action needs to be taken. In a previous blog post about Natural Ways To Control Slugs And Snails I listed a few ‘Gastropod Friendly’ solutions. None of them has worked. Not even the fancy snail tape I bought from The Green Gardener. Not that it’s the Green Gardener’s fault – in fact for a few of my friends it has been extremely helpful. I think the snails in my garden are made of sterner stuff.

In my efforts to lesson the damage done to my plants I tried:

Coffee Grounds – the snails, hyped up on copious amounts caffeine, ate double the amount of plants. It was a bad idea.

Porridge Oats – the slow release of complex carbohydrates meant that the snails had more energy and therefore ate more of my garden. I also discovered that oats are good for the libido – maybe that’s why I kept finding so many snails laying eggs in my pots. Ugh!

Beer – I would rather drink it myself.

Dried Egg Shells – I have a feeling they enjoy the irony of ‘walking on eggshells’ around me. I can appreciate that.

Snail Tape – aside from the fact that I cut my fingers on it and it kept sticking to my hands, shoes, trousers and face (don’t ask) this tape had some sort of magnetic draw which resulted in large clusters of snails congregating for impromptu ‘mollusk parties’. Although I provided the nibbles I was not invited.

At the moment I am still picking them off the pots, plants, walls and ground and chucking them into the far hedge. Eventually they make their way back. A few weeks ago I bought 19 marigolds which were completely decimated in 2 days. One marigold seems to have survived but I am not sure for how long. They say April showers bring May flowers, but in this case all the April showers have done is bring snails. We have had an enormous amount of rainfall in the UK over the past few months. My garden is behaving differently as a result – my sweetpeas have barely grown and my pepper plants aren’t doing anything either. Of course the snails haven’t helped.

If anyone has any advice or suggestions on how to humanely get rid of snails I would be eternally grateful. Otherwise I may scrap the garden and just open a snail safari instead.

WARNING! The images below are not for the faint hearted.

The gallery of sadness

Marigold Sadness

Another Sad Marigold

It makes me weep

It hurts....It huuuuurts!

The one that got away

Apple Seedlings On The Rise...

A seed hidden in the heart of an apple is an orchard invisible

Welsh Proverb

Apple Seedlings

Hurrah! My apple orchard is finally taking shape – although it is still very early days. I guess it may be another 10 years or so before I can walk out into the garden and pick fresh apples for a pie, but my dream is becoming reality.

These wee seedlings got their start by being lovingly placed in a Tupperware box filled with soil. They were then positioned near the back of the fridge where they were pretty much left to their own devices. Every few days or so I would take them out and open the lid to let some fresh air in. It was August 19th 2011 when they went in and on Dec 28th 2011 I planted them out. So they were in the fridge for roughly 4 months.

This is not my first attempt at growing apples from seeds. Everything had gone to plan with my original batch of seeds until I planted them out and put them in the greenhouse. Small and weak they didn’t stand a chance against the cruel Kentish winds and terrifying snail infestation. The day I went out and saw their withered forms was a day of sadness and bitter disappointment… (sniff sniff)

Never mind it was a lesson learned!

These sweet little beauties are staying in the house. Under my watchful eye I trust they will thrive, blessing me with many beautiful apples in the hopefully not too distant future. I will of course have to source apples from elsewhere until that magical moment arrives – but hey I live in Kent, also known as ‘Apple Central‘.

It feels good seeing the seedlings everyday. It’s a reminder of all the things I hope (and intend) to accomplish this year. So it’s kind of a New Year’s thing too I guess. Like my teeny apple seedlings I will nurture and nourish my dreams until they become strong enough to stand on their own.

More updates will follow as they grow! You can read about my first attempt here.

Natural Ways To Control Snails And Slugs...

“I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Ûdun. Go back to the Shadow! You…shall not…PASS!”

— Gandalf, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

It may sound strange being a gardener who likes snails – but I do. I don’t want to kill them but over these past few weeks I have had to admit to myself that they are becoming a real issue. After a very wet weekend I finally managed to get out in the garden. To my dismay I was greeted by chewed up leaves, half eaten tomatoes and a million slime trails. Something needed to be done.

Ok, so I didn’t don my wizard robes and brandish my staff but I did do the next best thing. I bought some copper tape. Apparently it gives snails and slugs a wee electrical zap and they quickly lose interest in tender young leaves and head for the hills.

Copper slug and snail tape

There are a wide variety of ways to control slugs and snails in your garden without resorting to harmful chemicals. Keep in mind that birds, frogs and other wildlife (including pets) could eat snails and slugs that have been poisoned. Dogs and cats have also been known to eat snail and slug pellets as they look very similar to their own kibble – that is very bad news for them and their owners.

Metaldehyde is a common ingredient in many commercially produced slug / snail baits. It will not only kill the slugs and snails but it will also kill or seriously harm whatever eats them. In the UK there is also some concern that metaldehyde has been found in drinking water – but this is being downplayed. Why is this stuff still being used?

I will not use chemicals in my garden. For the past 3 years I have been looking at different ways to safely keep snails away from my plants.

• Plucking them off the plants and out of the pots every morning and evening worked for awhile. I would walk them down to the end of the garden – but of course they always came back! Not an ideal solution

• Last summer a friend suggested using egg shells. Whenever you have eggs set the shells aside and give them a wash. Place them on parchment paper on a cookie sheet and heat them slowly in a low temperature oven. When they have dried out (approx 1 – 1.5 hours) break them up a bit more and layer them around the base of your plants. Snails and slugs don’t like crawling over them. I did try this but it didn’t work for me although I do know people who swear by this method

• Beer poured into pie plates or shallow dishes and left in the ground will slow them down. I always thought they drowned but apparently it just makes them dozy and drunk. They lay around in a stupor while birds and other predators feast on them

• Other methods include spraying a coffee mixture on leaves and soil or spreading a thick layer of uncooked porridge oats around the base of the plant. I haven’t tried these methods but this site on Sustainable Gardening Tips had some great ideas including these ones

• The Wake Up Your Garden For Wildlife Study Day I participated in at the start of June was really helpful. It makes sense that if you make your garden friendly for wildlife they will create their own natural balance. Frogs, toads, snakes and birds will eat snails and slugs so why not welcome them into your garden? I have created a small water feature in the hopes of attracting some frogs. They will certainly have plenty to eat in my garden

You Shall NOT Pass!

I really believe in the importance of finding natural and environmentally friendly ways to control pests. O.k it may take awhile to find out what works for you but if you love your garden then isn’t it worth the time and commitment to work in harmony with it?

Please feel free to share your own tips and techniques for dealing with slugs, snails or other garden pests. I would love to hear about them.

Happy Gardening!

Luna x

Addicted to Gardening: The Detling Garden Show...

This weekend was the first time I visited the Detling Garden Show. It was also the first time I realized I have a serious addiction to gardening. Although my outdoor space is limited I couldn’t resist buying a few more plants for my Magical Fairy Garden. Over the next few weeks I’ll be learning about them and sharing my findings here with all of you.

For those of you that have never been to the Detling Garden Show it is a must! There are over 300 exhibitors selling a wide variety of plants, stalls from various wild life trusts and all sorts of wonderful garden ornaments including chimes, fantastic children’s play houses and gigantic wooden Gorillas (just what every garden needs!) I have also discovered there is a 2nd garden show in the Autumn! Hurrah!

My new plants are all settling happily in my garden. Here is a quick peek at some of them:

Heart Ease or Wild Pansy


Cat Mint (A Treat for Nutmeg)

A Japanese Maple Tree (I LOVE these trees!)

Growing An Apple Tree From Seed...

Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.

Martin Luther

I have become obsessed with the idea of having my own orchard. There are garden centres all over Kent selling a wide variety of apple, pear and cherry trees and I could easily buy myself a ready made orchard. However I don’t want to take the easy option. So I have taken the bold (and very possibly insane) step of growing my very own apple tree from seeds.

Now seeds and I don’t tend to get along. We definitely have a love hate relationship. I lavish them with love and attention and in return they either do nothing or they sprout and then promptly rot. So I know I am doing something wrong.

This is my 2nd attempt at growing my own apple tree. The first attempt ended in bitter disappointment. I managed to get 2 seeds to sprout and then in my youthful exuberance planted them outside (way too early) where they withered and died. I learned my lesson and spent more time doing research on the best way to grow apple trees from seed. This article by Steve Snyder is one of the best I have found.

For this attempt I am using local Braeburn apples.

What I have done so far:

– Enjoyed eating 3 lovely, juicy Braeburn apples – cut into slices

– Used the tip of a knife to carefully extract the seeds from the core

– Placed the seeds on wax paper in a small dish so they can dry out

My next steps:

– Wait patiently for the seeds to dry out (this can take 3-4 weeks)

– When they are dry enough they will have a light almost grey/silver colour

– I will then add them to a small Tupperware box filled with soil and place in my fridge for 3 months

– Every 2 days I will open up the box to give them some air and extra TLC

– Keep my non–green fingers crossed and hopefully start to see some sign of growth after the first 2 months

It really doesn’t matter if I am successful or not (although I would love for this to be a success). What’s important for me is the process and learning more about my garden and how plants grow. I will keep you posted on my progress – wish me luck! (and please send some loving thoughts to my apple seeds)

Thanks Everyone!

Luna xx

Sweet Peas: First Bloom of the Year...

    “Here are sweet peas, on tip-toe for a flight: With wings of gentle flush o’er delicate white, And taper fingers catching at all things, To bind them all about with tiny rings.”

    -John Keats

    Botanical Name: Lathyrus odoratus
    Family: Leguminosae
    Ruled by: The element of Water and the planet Venus
    Magical properties: Friendship, courage & strength

      This morning I awoke to the sound of rain. Along with the rumbling purr of a happy cat, falling rain is one of my favourite sounds. As I pulled back the curtains to look out on the day I was delighted to see my sweet pea is now in bloom.

      This was especially important to me as last year I bought some sweet pea seeds from a local garden centre. I planted them and was shocked when sweet peas actually emerged! Not knowing how the whole propagation thing worked (duh!) I assumed I would have to buy more seeds this year. Imagine my delight when 2 months ago I started seeing the beginnings of a whole new sweet pea poking through the soil.

      It has now shot up to almost 1.2m and is a beautiful sight in my garden. Basically the seeds from some of the late blooming flowers last autumn went into the soil and presto….a whole new life began. Hurrah…….the magic of nature! Not being much of a gardener I am really pleased at how easy it has been to grow sweet peas. They are stunning plants which can bring magic to any garden.

      Here are some important and interesting Sweet Pea facts:

      • It is an annual climbing plant that can reach heights of 1-2 metres. Make sure you have something to support it. I have a stick but it has also wrapped itself around my Kilmarnock Willow Tree
      • Sweet peas come in a wide variety of colours; pink, red, white, purple and lavender
      • They like full sun and good deep, well drained top-soil
      • They benefit from regular deadheading but towards the end of the season keep some of the flowers to seed for the next year (that’s what I unknowingly did and it worked)
      • Sweet peas have been cultivated since the 17th century and the first sweet pea was introduced to England from Sicily in 1699
      • Their sweet fragrance is what gives them their name
      • There are different varieties including;

      Old Fashioned (these should be very fragrant)

      Spencer Cultivars (hardy with bright, bold colours but not necessarily fragrant)

      Bijou Group (Sweet scented variety that are suitable for containers)

      • Many gardeners call Sweet Peas the Queen of Annuals
      • Sweet Peas are long lasting as cut flowers but personally I prefer to leave mine in the garden!
      • They help attract bumblebees and butterflies to your garden

      IMPORTANT NOTE: Unlike most peas, the seeds of the sweet pea are poisonous, and should not be eaten. Sweet pea flowers are also not edible and are poisonous. According to the brilliant book ‘100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names’ by Diana Wells ( Published 1997 by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill) , there is a medical term to describe sweet pea poisoning – lathyrism. Symptoms can include convulsions, paralysis in the legs and unconsciousness.

      So best leave the sweet peas to the bumble bees and butterflies!

      If you are interested sweet peas here are some helpful and informative sites:

    Brigid, Creativity and Almond Crescent Cookies...

    Feast of Brigid Imbolc Offering

    Feast of Brigid Imbolc Offering

    One of the most wonderful things about children is their pure creative spirit. They draw, sing, write, dance, play make believe and create just for the sheer pleasure of it. Watching them in action you can see just how immersed they become in whatever they are doing. They don’t concern themselves with what other people think. They don’t worry about whether what they are doing will eventually reap financial rewards. They don’t have doubts around what they create – they proudly give their pictures to their parents to stick on the fridge or they show off their latest dance routines for their grandparents. For them it is all about having fun and getting lost in that magical moment of creativity.

    I long for those moments in my adult life. Now I am too self conscious to dance in public. There is no amount of money that would get to me to sing out loud for anyone. My husband (an art teacher) recently signed me up to a local college life drawing class. Already I am worrying about other people seeing – and judging – my work. Today I have decided to banish these negative thoughts from my mind and to be more supportive of myself. I realized it’s time to nurture my creative spirit and have some fun!

    Today is Imbolc the feast day of Brigid, the Goddess of Art and Healing. She has a particularly strong connection to writers, poets, storytellers and metal workers (smithcraft) as well to those who practice the healing arts. Although today is Her feast day she is watching over us all the time. If ever we need clarity, support or inspiration all we need to do is ask for Her guidance. Lighting candles or using specially blended Aromatherapy oils while sitting in quiet reflection can help connect us with Her powerful energy.

    There are other ways to connect with Brigid and celebrate Her presence in our lives. Don’t wait for Imbolc to come around again – start today and remind yourself how wonderful it is to lose yourself in the magic of creativity!

    • Write! Write! Write! Poems, short stories, songs or letters to friends and family. Just put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) the main thing is getting your words onto paper.

    • Consider crafts. Have you ever thought about taking up knitting, scrapbooking, decoupage or crochet? There are so many different types of crafts out there to explore and have fun with.

    • Listen to some of your favourite music (you may even be tempted to kick up your heels and have a dance around the house)

    • Sing. Sing a song. Sing it loud. You get the picture! You don’t have to do this in front of an audience. Just do it for yourself and to express yourself through your own voice.

    • Find inspiration in nature. Get outside for a walk. Breathe in the fresh air, listen to the birdsong and let your mind drift.

    • Draw. Doodle. Colour in. Have some fun with pretty coloured pencils, pens or paints. When you’re done – stick it on the fridge!

    • Get in your kitchen and bake!

    The kitchen was my first port of call this morning. I found this recipe for Almond Crescent Cookies which I was eager to try. I set up a little altar by the hearth and left some of the cookies and a small glass of Cointreau out as a thank you to Brigid (and my ever so helpful house fairy). I sat for a few minutes and thought carefully about everything I want to achieve in the upcoming months as well as those things I need to let go of. Now I am going out for a walk. I feel the need to listen to birdsong and walk off the 4 cookies I just ate. They really are tasty!

    I wish each and every one of you a happy and magical Imbolc.

    Here is the recipe courtesy of

    Almond Crescent Cookies for Imbolc


    • 1 cup finely chopped almonds (or other nuts) (I used ½ cup almonds and ½ cup walnuts)

    • 2 sticks (1 cup) softened unsalted butter

    • 3/4 cup powdered sugar plus extra for coating

    • 2 teaspoons vanilla (I used 1tsp vanilla extract and 1 tsp almond extract)

    • 2 cups all-purpose flour


    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).

    • Lightly grease two cookie sheets.

    • In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until well blended. Add in the 3/4-cup powdered sugar and beat until combined. Add vanilla and almonds and stir until blended. Add the 2 cups flour gradually while stirring. At this point, you will have to knead it until well blended with your hands.

    • Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to make the dough easier to handle.

    • Shape the dough into crescent shapes (see picture) using 1 tablespoon at a time. To make it easier, roll into a string shape first and then shape into a crescent. Place onto cookie sheets and bake for 12-16 minutes until the edges are slightly browned.

    • Remove from oven and let cookies stand for a couple minutes until firm enough to remove from the sheet. Remove from the cookie sheet and place onto a rack. Let them cool for 10 minutes. Sift the extra powdered sugar over the cookies for the topping and let cool completely.

    • If you want to skip the crescent shaping process, just roll them into tablespoon-sized balls and bake the same as above. When the balls have cooled for 10 minutes, roll them in powdered sugar to coat evenly and let cool. You can also skip the nuts in case of possible allergy. They will simply taste like delicious shortbread.


    Almond Crescent Cookies for Imbolc

    Almond Crescent Cookies for Imbolc

    Showing Kindness To Snails: Let Them Eat Beans!...

    As I went out into the garden this morning I spied a few snails happily munching away on my beans. My basil, which is finally doing well, was also under threat from a wee baby snail.

    Most gardeners would think I am crazy but I actually don’t want to harm the snails. To be honest though I also don’t really want them eating all the beans or terrorising my basil.

    As a kitchen witch it’s important for me to find a balanced solution. Killing them just because they are eating my plants doesn’t feel right to me. After all they are only doing what is natural to them.

    So when I see them on my plants I pluck them off and move them much further down the garden. This morning one snail was so engrossed in eating a bean that I cut the bean off the stalk so he could finish his breakfast.

    I actually love watching the snails. I find them very restful and they are also quite amazing little creatures. While they are welcome in my garden it’s important that we have an ‘understanding’ about things. For the most part they do leave my plants alone but every so often I catch 1 or 2 having a sneaky snack and that’s when I have to take them on a journey to the end of the garden!

    Summer Solstice: A Time of Reflection and Thanks....

    It was 15 years ago, on the Summer Solstice – the longest day, that I had an accident that changed my life. I won’t go into the details but the result was that I spent a good few months bedridden in hospital and then a long time after that hobbling about on crutches. It was a challenging time for me, but it was also a blessing. Leading up to the accident I had been feeling extremely angry and frustrated at where I was in my life.

    Although I was studying one of my passions, photography, I felt financially limited in terms of being able to fund the basic necessities of my course. Film and processing alone were very expensive and then adding to that props and accessories I was gradually starting to fall into debt.

    My job was not a rewarding one either. When I first moved to the UK as a recent University graduate with top marks in Art History and Classical Studies, I had high hopes of starting work in a museum or art gallery. My hopes were soon dashed when I wasn’t even able to find a volunteer position. In the end I did find employment in an Art Gallery, but it was in the gift shop. The pay was barely a living wage with the expenses of London and my photography course. I did my best to stay positive but everything seemed to be caving in on me, and then the accident happened.

    It was a shock and I spent the first few days scared, crying and feeling very sorry for myself. Fortunately my mom was able to fly over to be with me and that helped me more then I can say. It gave us a unique opportunity to really bond with one another again and I can honestly say that it was a very special time for me (and I think it was for my mom as well). My mom has a great sense of humour so we ended up laughing a lot which really does help put things into perspective. Laughter really is the best medicine!

    I was also fortunate enough to work with a manager who was caring and also sensitive and understanding about my situation. If anyone else had been in charge I could have easily been out of a job and out of pay. He made sure I was looked after and that all I had to worry about was my recovery. Although I disliked my job I realized that there were loving and kind people around me who were doing what they could to help me through this difficult time. That meant (and still means) a great deal to me.

    When I say that the accident was a blessing most people look at me like I’m an idiot, but really it was. It gave me time to reflect on my life. Where was I headed? What did I want to achieve? Was I truly happy doing what I was doing? And if not, then What action(s) will get me on the road to happiness and fulfilment?

    It was because of the accident that I finally had the courage to study Massage Therapy. Aromatherapy and Reflexology soon followed and I now practice professionally. It also gave me the strength to finish and make the most of my photography course. I graduated and worked for a time as an assistant to a photographer and an assistant to a photographer’s agent. Neither of these career paths felt right to me, but instead of putting pressure on myself to carry on with something I didn’t enjoy, I felt strong enough to let them go without guilt or fear. The accident also got me on a more Spiritual path and I began to work actively with Angels and Fairies, which has completely transformed my life.

    This year on the 21st of June, I sat in my beautiful sunny garden surrounded by flowers, tomato plants and Fairies. I thought back to the accident and reflected on the many blessings I have to be thankful for and how that one day, 15 years ago changed my life for the better.

    Fairy Hiding Amongst The Fuschias.

    Window Box Flower Fairy

    Window Box Flower Fairy

    Summer Solstice Crystal Heart I found this on my early morning Solstice walk.

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