Thursday, June 28, 2007

The box is back!

The window box has returned from its travels. It was taken by the BBC in mid-May, first to Bristol, then to Islay off the west coast of Scotland for use in the Springwatch TV programme, then back to Bristol before returning home.

Some of the plants look a bit battered and the plastic is now starting to get brittle and crack, but generally it has survived the experience. I suspect it was allowed to get quite dry and this has had the effect of causing the soil to shrink, so the top is much lower down the box than it originally was and there is a narrow gap all round the sides. I shall have to work out how to address this problem as, once shrunk, soil does not seem to return to its former volume.

I spent some time tidying the plants up and cut back the rough meadow grass (Poa trivialis), the only grass plant to appear so far. I thought this might make a one plant lawn but, as the picture shows, it is more like grass topiary (a new art form?).

While dealing with the grass I noticed a small plant of Cotoneaster visible above the Poa in the picture. The Japanese maple has died after being clobbered by late spring frost, so the Cotoneaster, another exotic, will go some way to compensate.

The southern half of Wbx is totally different to the northern with very few plants. Many of those that do grow also seem not to have a strong hold on life. Why this should be I do not know, but there are a number of seedlings in the empty southern spaces, so we shall have to see what happens.


Jess said...

Hi Patrick, am glad the box made it back safely, sorry it has come back drier than it left you, i was wondering how you get soil to "undry" itself as it has happened to some of my plants after being away for a long time. I have tried ploughing the top soil and watering but it doesn't really work, maybe i will just have to re-pot?

Patrick Roper said...

Jess - good to hear from you. It is easy enough to get soil wet again but I think with potting composts some element of the soil structure must collapes irretrievably after droughty conditions. I will have to work out how to get more earth into the bottom of the box. Any ideas?

My Wildlife Box said...

Patrick, How about placing fresh earth on the top and using earthworms to mix it in?

Alternatively, it may be part of the ecology of a wildlife box reserve - the soil will eventually collapse and will give rise to species which survive best in these conditions.

Just some thoughts