Practical Ecology

Nature Switched On





in the Pyrenees  the first 10 years

floristic catalogue
faunistic catalogue
gallery 1: 2006-2012
gallery 2: 2012-
>> 2010 Apr 16
<< 2010 Mar 13

                         a   S T A M M E R  project              

2010 April 4 to 7

I have been busy with the finishing touches of some of the many “buildings” on the terrain, which together form almost a kind of colony now.

The roof of the solar greenhouse
was straightened and better secured and the interior straw bale walls were plastered with clay.

On the outside walls 4 plants of Ivy (Hedera helix) were planted and fixed to the wall (with “nail chopsticks”), together with one specimen of the climbing Hydrangea petiolaris, one of my all time favourites. They will have to offer shade, protection and beauty to the walls.




The solar greenhouse: not exactly an Ecocathedral but perhaps an Ecochapel?
4 Apr 12:11

Hydrangea petiolaris on the north side of the greenhouse. It prefers relatively shady places.
6 Apr10:25
Greenhouse interior.
The sown vegetables are doing fine.
4 Apr 12:15
The aluminium sticks supporting the roof (from our old caravan) stand wind and rain well.
4 Apr 12:18


The roof of the `'transformer station' with the controllers and batteries of the solar panels needed some kind of shading to prevent a greenhouse effect by the semi transparent fibre glass roofing as the batteries work best with low temperatures (above zero). I used  Giant cane (Arundo donax), harvested on the border of a nearby river, fixing it on the roof with some wooden boards and heavy stones and trunks. As the shade was still not satisfying I added some flakes of straw and in any case I will check the inside temperature on sunny days to see if more cane has to be added.

The transformer station in the extreme south-east corner of the terrain.
7 Apr 11:30


Our old caravan has started its fourth life, this time as a wildlife observation shelter alias guest house alias store room. It received a camouflaging green paint for the occasion and was moved to a well hidden spot with interesting views.








The vegetation around the pond (full of black toad spawn) was mown down.
The caravan is at the back.
4 Apr 11:51

The Holm oak (Quercus ilex) on the right and the Portuguese Oak (Quercus faginea) on the left will offer a nice shade in summer.
4 Apr 11:56


Plant life offered three nice surprises, all of the same nature. Three different plants, which I planted about two years ago but which disappeared last spring after just showing some sprouting leaves, appeared again!
I was convinced that they had been eaten or destroyed by animals, disease or wrong soil conditions but here they are again: Arum italicum (2x), Lilium martagon and Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) .







Turk's-cap lily (Lilium martagon).
 6 Apr 10:23
Sprouting Italian Lords-and-Ladies (Arum italicum) on the wood border.
6 Apr 10:16

Sprouting Rhubarb(Rheum rhabarbarum).
Popular in northern Europe for its edible red stems.
7 Apr 11:02



Orchids are doing fine with many flowering Ophrys sphegodes and even more numerous lushy rosettes of Orchis purpurea.

  Early spider orchid (Ophrys sphegodes) under the protection of Iris germanica on the border of the vegetable garden.
4 Apr 11:25


In the third pond (working as a filtering drain for the solar shower) I planted Valeriana officinalis and Primula veris, which I hope will proliferate (being natives) as they still offer such a poor sight.

On Tuesday 6th I was surprised by the croaking of a Natterjack toad in this little pond, one month after I installed it. I hope the sound won’t disturb our sleep too much as the volume is deafening and quite near our house. Perhaps I will have to recur to planting much more aquatic plants, which the Natterjacks don’t seem to like very much, preferring open water spaces.

I added some buckets of water from the other ponds to inoculate the water with micro-organisms and some snails. Birds are already regular visitors coming for a drink or bath.

The third pond, taking the water from the solar shower to the vegetable garden, with the planted Primula veris at the back.
6 Apr 10:06
  Some of the brambles on the left were taken away to get better views on the visiting birds of the pond, but alas, also the Natterjacks will be heard better..  
4 Apr 11:58


In the corner at the entrance of the terrain I transformed three heaps of debris, of which the better stones were used for the foundation of the garden house, into a rock garden. As usual and similar to the approach of the recently installed third pond, I prefer to work quite intuitively without detailed plans, doing just some preliminary and rudimentarily aesthetic ordering of material and space, creating interesting conditions and opportunities for nature to continue.
The debris is mainly small rocks and coarse sand without much organic material or seeds in it, so as to stimulate plant life I added a limited quantity of soil from another part of the terrain and planted some Sedum and Sempervivum cuttings.

Rock corner near the entrance to the terrain.
The white flowering Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) graciously mixes in with the stones.
4 Apr 12:08


Of the vegetable garden it is worthwhile to mention three perennials who are amazingly growing on these early spring days, when temperatures hardly pass 17 C. Trifolium repens and Lotus corniculatus are green fertilizers and my experimental plan is to have them grow all over the vegetable garden with the vegetables sown into them (with the occasional mowing, which they support well).
Allium fistulosum (Welsh onion) is unbeatable in its development. We have already used quite a lot in salads (raw) and in pasta (shortly fried) to which it gives a taste between garlic and onion.






Trifolium repens (r) and Lotus corniculatus (l) sown one year ago.
4 Apr 11:39


fistulosum with Lotus corniculatus.
Harvesting is a question of cutting 2 thirds of the stem like the one on the extreme left.
4 Apr 11:36

floristic catalogue
faunistic catalogue
gallery 1: 2006-2012
gallery 2: 2012-
>> 2010 Apr 16
<< 2010 Mar 13











Latest revision on:  01/08/2018