|the main pond is 'puddled' with clay Capability Brown style|
|spade work to create frog and newt habitat - it jumps with them in spring|
five ponds we dug with spades and a JCB. Each year we have created more wetland habitat and can’t stress enough how magical it is to add water to your garden. It doesn’t have to be big, just wet.
|what a lovely surprise it is when little egrets drop in to fish|
With this in mind we decided to start a wild flower meadow and so the lawn in front of the cottage was left uncut one spring. An amazing transformation took place as within weeks a host of flowers emerged from the grass, including three southern-marsh orchids.
|no mowing - no seed - just a miracle of nature|
|pretty as a picture|
|lots of flowers are good for all insects, not least the colourful peacock butterfly|
|commas are a common treat on our patch and lichens a big bonus|
|the impressively sized silver-washed fritillaries visit every year|
|one of several beetle-banks - very good interest rates too|
|frequent and exotic visitors - mandarin ducks - and our pheasant is called 'Prince Wilhelm The Second' - don't ask why|
|two of these ducklings survived the hazards of foxes this year to become free flying|
|we usually have up to three pairs producing big broods|
|just some of the male escorts - ain't wetlands wonderful|
|the great tit is one of our commonest residents|
|rudd and golden orfe - all scoffed by the 'playful' otter last autumn|
What’s more, fish provide food for herons and our ultimate garden visitor, otters. We receive a raiding party most years and though it’s a real treat to see them, it’s distressing when they eat our wildlife in the middle of the night. We used to have breeding moorhens but not since the otters discovered us. They are killers so are a mixed blessing.
|our 'friendly' otter enjoying a midnight feast|
|minnows breed so well in the streams that we always have plenty of survivors|
|kingfishers are a frequent summer visitor - what a privilege|
|stock doves are a delight and several pairs nest close by|
|emperor dragonflies find our ponds ideal for egg-laying|
|this golden-ringed dragon provided supper for a hobby|
|you can never have too many wisterias - the bees love 'em|
It's always suggested that planting trees isn't for us but for our grand-children and it's simply not true. We planted many of the trees in this picture and look at the size of them, especially the glorious beeches across the pond, only thirty years old and BIG.
|the glorious colours of autumn are always enjoyed, especially the acers|
|no, we didn't plant the ancient oaks but we did dig the marsh|