Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Bluebells and Bats in profusion

The 1000 bluebells planted last autumn have blossomed in their first season  the Spinney.

Everywhere is draped in white veils of blackthorn and hawthorn blossom broken by spots and strips of golden yellow gorse.  The trees  too soon  are loosing their blossom in the wild wind and deluge of rain and the ground is carpeted in multi-coloured petals.

Solitary Queen bumblees can seen digging holes for their nests in the sandstone in and around the waterfall.

Pink Campion

Meadow Buttercup

May is a great time to start searching for the smaller, more delicate wildflowers as they have the light and space to propagate before becoming overwhelmed later in the summer by bigger and more lush relatives. 

Ones to look out for include :

Lily of the Valley, For-get-me-not, Fritillary,Common Butterwort, Yellow Rattle, Comfrey,Wood Sorrel, Herb Robert.

Cow parsley

As has been  seen from  night camera photographs, Ness Gardens has a considerable active night life. What is less obvious is the large bat population that lives and feeds in the area also.    Species include :

Soprano Pipistrelle,  Noctule Bat,  Daubenton's Bat, Whiskered/Brandt's Bat,  Brown Long-eared Bat, Mouse-eared Bat. 

Monday, 27 April 2015


Wirral sandwiched as it is between the sea and two large rivers tends towards its own micro climate. The siting of Ness gives a unique panoramic experience of the sky and the subsequent weathers rolling in from the North Sea. In spring and autumn when the sun is lower the fantastic blues, and puffy, peach, cream and paynes grey cloud  formations are so easy and wonderful to observe.


Cirrus (mare's tails)

This season is  a very luscious one for wildflowers and weeds, depending on how you view these things. Both are best when it comes to supporting the biodiversity of insects, butterflies and bees.  It is time we as gardeners went with the flow and let wilderness be itself.  Sympathetic management yes, obliteration a definite no, which is what we aspire too for the 'Wilder-Ness Project'.  Already the bounty of the hard work is beginning to show !as more and more the wildflowers expand and take hold and attract bees, butterflies, bumblebees and solitary bees.  Species are  now being discovered hitherto new to Cheshire. 

The Cowslip field in the meadow is looking wonderful this year and hopefully will grow from strength to strength as it seeds and spreads.

Orange tip (male)

Orange tip (female)




There is a great crop of dandelions on the Wirral this year and these are now being left by enlightened councils to proliferate for bees and butterflies. They are not seasonal dependent therefore provide much needed food throughout the year.

  The BEE HOTEL is finished at last..............

 and new tenants have been checking it out already.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Wilderness Website

This week has been a wonderful week of firsts,  commencing with the first heat wave of the year at Easter.  This signaled to all of nature to get 'a movin'.  Butterflies, wildflowers, bumblebees and people were all busy doing their thing in the gardens.   The wilderness team all got sunstroke this week too.

Wood Anemone



Many wildflowers can be seen blooming in and around the meadow and spinney.  Some more easily found than others.
Scarlet Pimpernel

From the tiny hidden Scarlet Pimpernel in the meadow to the carpets of Lesser Celandine in the Spinney.

Lesser Celandine


A new hybrid  early flowering 'Comfrey' has been found to be exclusive to Ness Gardens. It appears in both blue, pink and white.

This week also saw an influx of Peacock Butterflies.  As a result of this the team decided to start the seasons butterfly and bee  survey.  This follows a predetermined set transect throughout Ness Gardens on a weekly basis.  The survey takes over 3 hours to complete each time it is undertaken so is a heavy if enjoyable commitment.

Peacock Butterfly

Bank Vole nest sites have been seen at various parts of the wilderness, but to date no one has actually seen one.  

We also welcome a new team volunteer 'Tom' (young and fit) who over the past month has been doing work experience as part of his professional course.  Much to our delight he has decided to stay on as a volunteer.

New website  

Detailed copies of  all surveys are available via the 'Resources' page on the new Wilder-Ness Website 

Thursday, 26 March 2015


Birds are  busy putting the finishing touches to their nests. Native birds get the best choice of site before the migrants start arriving.  The first of these are the olive green Chiffchaffs.  The wilderness team have already heard our first chiffchaff in the spinney.

Goldfinches appear to be everywhere this spring.  Their tingling bell like song can be heard from every tree.  Greenfinches  also seem to be more present this year after their dramatic decline due to disease. they can be seen doing little aerial bouncy dances whilst singing at the same time.

It is now the best time to see hares as they come out of hiding to search for a mate. Any boxing seen is the female rejecting the males advances. To date we have not seen a hare at Ness, so we would love to hear from anyone who has. Even better also has a photo. 

But......we have caught some images of a fox on the night camera in the region of the new apple orchard.  Something has also been digging up the newly laid seed bed infront of the Information Shelter and the footprints look suspiciously like badger.  Going by the images captured on the camera the badgers seem to roam freely all over the gardens, which is a delight to know.

The trees and shrubs are all taking on crowns of dusky pale hints of pink, auburn, lime, and soft purple, as new flower  and leaf buds appear for the first time.

Monster Moles sighted at Ness 

There appears to be a mega sized mole working its way around the wilder-ness as mole hills the size never seen before are popping up everywhere.  The soil turned up is in lovely condition and the creature is  doing a great job of turning it all, but one does wonder how large this animal actually is.  Sometimes you can be lucky enough to see fresh soil being shovelled  further up the mound as passages are re-dug.

This weeks night camera images : fortunately not at the same time.


Monday, 9 March 2015

Meadow spring

We spotted the first primroses in the meadow this week, so all is well with nature and the world. Bright green shoots are appearing everywhere. Birds are in full colour plumage and  there is song and bustle around the gardens after the grey silence of winter.

Dr. Philip Putwain made an excellent informative presentation to the Friends of Ness at the weekend on the Wilder-Ness Project and the results of the Bioblitz in June 2014. Ness Gardens is now a large presence on  the biodiversity map of the Uk.  Even the team of volunteers involved were not aware of the immensity of what we have in our care.

Tim Baxter has started to plant an area of the wilder-ness as a  traditional orchard.  This will largely consist of  often rare but native apple species.  It too soon to get excited about eating the produce but it will be wonderful to watch as the trees grow and mature over the coming seasons.

Early wildflowers to look out for in March :

Marsh Marigold, Wood Anemone,Lesser Celandine, Saxifrage, Spurge, Speedwell, Cowslip.

It is now possible to subscribe to the Ness Garden Research Weather Station at :

Early butterflies : 

Yellow Brimstone, Red Admiral, Peacock (emerging from hibernation)

Latest Night time mammal sightings: