ISSUE 13, April 2005

Editorial
The Campbells are coming: At speed!
Travel: Warming to Iceland
Royal Masonic Family: The Six Masonic Sons of George III, Part II
Quarterly Communication: Address of the Pro Grand Master and: Report of the Board of General Purposes
The flying eye hospital
Beamish Museum: The million pound project
  Wigan Grand Lodge: The Liverpool rebels
Chelsea Lodge: That's entertainment
Re-enactment: The way we were and: The Russian connection
Community Service: Weathering the storm
Faith and Freemasonry: God and the Craft
Education: Researching Freemasonry on the Internet and: Masonic events
Freemasons Hall: Masons at War
Grand Charity: Report and grant list and: Support for Asian tsunami
Masonic Charities: Reports from the Masonic charities
Obituaries, Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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All photographs © Richard Burkmar

Top to bottom
A tortoiseshell butterfly and a male siskin on peanut feeder

    According to the Wildlife Trust, there are 15 million gardens in the United Kingdom, covering around two million acres. Gardens are more than just a collection of plants.
    They can also provide food, shelter and breeding sites for a wide range of animals, and represent an extremely valuable resource in providing habitats for wildlife.
    One of the best ways is to install a pond, preferably in a sunny place away from trees. At least one side should slope, so that amphibians can escape onto land, and preferably have a muddy border in which bog plants can grow.
    It should also have a shallow margin to provide a drinking and bathing area for birds and other animals, and it does not have to be lavish. It could be a do-it-yourself version or a preformed structure bought from your local garden centre. However, the larger the pond, the wider the range of wildlife and plants that can be encouraged into it.
    Early spring is an ideal time to start a pond so that it is available to be colonised by amphibians and pond insects as they emerge after the winter. There are also native plants that can grow near water, such as lady’s smock, which is a food plant of the orangetip butterfly. Dragonflies develop as nymphs in water, but they need tall vertical plants to climb up, so that when the adult dragonflies emerge, they can expand their wings properly.
    Although ponds need maintenance for weeding, do not go to the extreme of cleaning it out completely to get rid of the algae. This will only grow again, and in the interim you will lose the wildlife .
    Early Autumn is a good time to remove excess pond plants, but when doing so, leave the debris on the side for a day or two to give any animals hidden in it time to sort themselves out and go back into the water.
    Not only are compost heaps useful for recycling weeds and plant trimmings, but they are also likely to be teeming with invertebrate wildlife. Even the odd slug is better here than eating your plants!
    If you have any logs or indeed a woodpile, these, particularly if kept in the shady, cool part of the garden, will become a haven for wildlife. Making holes of 2-8mm diameter in the timber will provide nesting places for solitary bees and wasps.
    Trees with rot holes are also important habitats. If you are thinking of cutting down a tree because it has a deep cavity, you might consider just lopping off the top above the hole so that the remaining trunk is no longer dangerous.
    Plants growing in the lawn, although often thought of as weeds, do have their uses. Dandelions, for example, produce nectar and pollen for bees. Nettles are food for the caterpillars of three common garden butterflies although, unfortunately, the nettles need a prime spot in the sun to attract egglaying butterflies.
    Hedges encourage wildlife, particularly hawthorn, which produces berries that are a rich source of food for birds. Ivy is another good wildlife plant as it produces nectar and pollen in the autumn after many other flowers have died, and has berries that ripen in late winter when there are few other fruits and seeds available to birds.
    Putting a nesting box in the garden will provide endless days of pleasure observing the goings-on in the box. However, this needs to be strategically placed to avoid the nests being raided by predators such as squirrels, cats and magpies.
    The Wildlife Trust’s guide to wildlife gardening can be downloaded from their website www.wildlifetrusts.org and a look at www.wildaboutgardens.org will prove useful.

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