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Nature at Blue Haze

Contact with nature at Blue Haze is unavoidable and at times it has felt like a battle! In recent years we have made a conscious decision to learn about, engage with and nurture the local wildlife. It has been a fulfilling experience and if only to explain the messy appearence of the garden, one we wanted to share.

"Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better". Albert Einstein

The Wildlife

If you see a large bird of prey flying over the garden, it is probably a Marsh Harrier. They are a common sight soaring over the surrounding fields. Kestrels, Sparrowhawks and Buzzards are common too and if you're lucky you might see a Peregrine Falcon. Garden birds are numerous including Green finches and House Sparrows, whose numbers have declined in many parts of the UK. We also have occasional visits from Jays and Woodpeckers. Stunning bird photos can be seen on local photographer, Romano da Costa's website: www.romanodacosta.com

One of our most striking terrestial locals are Green Lizards, the males being particularly resplendent. Jersey is the only place in Britain where they occur naturally. Good spots to see them are the herb garden and the raised beds, but only through quiet and unobtrusive observation- please don't go actively searching or disturbing the stones. The stone filled ditch is an effort to provide a safe corridor to connect the two areas.

We occasionally find Slow Worms and there are two specific slow worm habitats in the garden, created from corrugated roofing. By all means have a little peek underneath to see if my efforts have been appreciated, but if they have been, please don't disturb them.

Mammalian wildlife is sparse on Jersey and dominated by Rabbits, who provide wonderful entertainment in the evening, their antics being easily observable from the sunroom. Cursed by many gardeners, they have an important role as soil and grassland engineers in rewilding scenarios. Perhaps more cherished are Red Squirrels; there is a thriving population on Jersey and remarkably we do have a regular Red Squirrel visitor to the garden, who is convinced that the bird feeders are stocked for his enjoyment!

Insects are numerous and we are sorry if you have been troubled by ants or spiders. Whilst these species divide opinions and may be a nuisance, they have vital roles to play in nature's ecosystems, in pest control, enhancing soil quality and pollination. When it comes to Butterflies, however, most of us feel only positive thoughts and we have been blessed with visits from a wonderful diversity of these beguiling and beautiful insects, most spectacular being the Continental variant of the Swallowtail. Hopefully you will have already enjoyed plenty of sightings; the herb garden and the Buddleia, beside the raised beds, are good spots for enjoying some butterfly activity. 

Pictures above were all taken in the garden at Blue Haze.

For further information on wildlife in Jersey, The National Trust JerseyThe Jersey Biodiversity Centre and The Jersey National Park all have good resources and contacts.

The Field

It was never really a lawn. We tried, but the moles and rabbits prevailed. Then I heard about "re-wilding", "no-mow May" and how we need to support our pollinators. I could not only "give in" to nature but do so with pride. As I have embraced neglect,  multiple wild flowers have appeared (Over 50 different species so far this year), earth worm numbers have proliferated  and numbers and diversity of garden birds, bees and butterfiles have increased.

By July and August, it is more dried savannah than wild flower meadow,  but even then, the more drought tolerant yarrow and fennel provide food and shelter to wildlife. and, hopefully, the crickets will be providing an evening serenade.

The area in front of the house is mown relatively short, but the rest is left unmown all year round, hence the raggedy appearence. Strips are mown along the edges of the recently planted trees and hedges, to reduce competition as they get established. The result is a mosaic of  different habitats each encouraging different species of plants and insects which in turn broadens the potential menu for birds and butterflies. 

Trees and Hedges

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Blue Haze's location affords spectacular views, but the payback is exposure to the south westerly, salt laden winds that batter us with gale force intensity over the winter. The only "tree" or shrub present when we bought the house in 1997 was a solitary Tamarisk, but through trial and considerable error, we have slowly established hedging and even some small wind battered trees. In January, local tree charity, Jersey Trees for Life, planted over 700 whips of Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Field Maple, Hazel, Holm Oak, Rowan and English Oak, as part of a hedgerow campaign to restore interconnected hedges across the island. Our hope is to extend our hedges and establish a small copse at the far end of the garden, providing a wildlife habitat and refuge in this exposed corner of Jersey.

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