Back gardenThe female blackbird from the nest in a hawthorn at the end of the garden has found a way to feed her hungry brood; she perched on a rock in the pond and plucked a newt from the water and immediately flew off into the hedge.

As I write this, on location in our back garden, her mate is checking out a more conventional foraging habitat; you can just see him in my photograph, immediately to the left of the narrower set of alkathene hoops, behind the polygonum flower-spikes, on my mini-meadow area, which I strimmed this morning.

After a number of attempts to get a meadow going here over the last twenty years, I’ve decided on a change this year. My problem is that I unwisely introduced chicory, which thrives in the rich soil and spreading, as it does, by underground rhizomes, it can pop up in any odd space and it easily out-competes the meadow flowers such as birds-foot trefoil that I’d prefer to get established.

I spent this afternoon removing chicory from the veg bed nearest the meadow, which we’re about to sow borlotti beans in.

The only way that I’m going to prevent chicory dominating my meadow area is by cultivating it as I would any other part of the garden. It will be interesting to try something new here.

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  1. You might remember I too had a blackbird problem with them eating my palmate newts. I’ve solved it this year by letting the pond edges get very overgrown. The blackbirds can’t land to go fishing!
    Chicory struggles on my clay soil and although it will make a mighty plant one year it never gets established. Pity as I like it, but maybe would feel like you about it if it is a take over merchant.

    1. I’m putting my newts in danger again, as I’ve just been clearing a small space by the pond but I was pleased when fishing out a small amount of duckweed to find three dragonfly larvae and plenty of ramshorn snails and medium-sized black water beetles.
      My chicory took a while to get established and, realising that it might be a problem, I relocated it to a bed behind the greenhouse but it escaped by spreading under the greenhouse and two concrete paths to reestablish itself. You have been warned!

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