Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live with my family in rural Herefordshire. We have nearly four acres of garden and woodland, all managed organically and to Permaculture principles, which we share with Chickens, Cats and assorted wildlife. We also grow a lot of our own food, run courses in all sorts of things and make a lot of compost!

I am a Master Composter and have spent more than a decade as a volunteer Community Compost adviser with Garden Organic and my local Council.
I'm a self employed Environmental Educator so I run workshops and events where I talk about compost, veg growing, chicken keeping, cooking, preserving and sustainable living. I also run crafts workshops and Forest School/outdoor play sessions in our wood.

We try to live a more self sufficient lifestyle here, as best we can, while still having a comfortable life and lots of fun.

To learn more about us click on the About Compostwoman tab and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!

Friday 12 April 2013

Hornets and replacing the garden furniture

It was wet and dull here yesterday, so I spent a bit of time online getting ideas for our future garden layout. I have created a new Pinterest "Dream Gardens" board and have been pinning various products and ideas on to it. I have also been looking around at various on line suppliers of gardening products to get ideas and also some feel for the cost of things.

So far my pinboard  seems to be all garden benches, greenhouses, cold frames and not much else - I suspect the cold start to this growing season is having an impact on my Internet searches!

At the moment I am looking for Garden furniture, mainly because ours is getting really rather old and tatty and, if we ever get a Summer, I would like to sit outside and enjoy it now and them!

I last bought some FSC (Forest Stewardship Council  - all our bought wood must be FSC unless we have seen it grow and felled and made!) chairs and a table in the year Compostgirl was born and she is fast approaching teenage hood this year ( eek! where does the time go?) And it had lasted well until a couple of years ago. It came from our local Co- Op,  I cleaned it and now and then it got a fresh coat of wood treatment BUT unfortunately it has been severely damaged in the last couple of years from a most unusual  source.

Hornets! (Vespa crabro)

They are welcome here,  they are a lot less aggressive than their cousin the Wasp (nasty things, I do not like them at all) Hornets eat all sorts of insect pests and, as long as you stay away from a Hornet nest , they really will not hurt you unless you squash them.  BUT they make their nests out of paper made from chewed up wood - and they LOVE to scrape/rasp/chew the wood from our garden table and chairs! More than anything else! I mean, we have a thousand trees for them to choose but oh, no they have to eat my tables and chairs! And they have BIG jaws and make BIG nests (which actually are very beautiful)

All those white marks? Hornet jaws did that. I know it seems incredible but honestly we have watched them do it, time and time again and would YOU try telling a Hornet to "shove off my table"? No, me neither. So, the table and chairs are going to have to be replaced sooner rather than later.

I have been looking around for ideas on the web and also in local Garden centres.  As I said, if it is wood it has to be FSC wood, but after our experiences with the Hornets I am going to go for metal this time! See if you can eat metal, you Hornets. Chew on that!

There are possibilities both in B & Q and Homebase but from my on line searches I have also found a number of new to me suppliers to be a candidate for my money. Hayes Garden World in particular stood out, they are a family owned business that has been in existence, in one form or another, since the early 19th century and are based in Ambleside, Cumbria. I particularly liked their Environmental policy.

If you look at the outdoor furniture from Hayes Garden World , they have some lovely metal table and chair sets (I pinned one here a couple of weeks ago)   and also now a lot of  garden benches and, indeed, a number of the FSC benches on that page are on significant offer ( half price!) this week. I am very tempted to buy another bench as well as table and chairs! Except for the Hornet problem, of course.
Obviously I have not yet bought anything from them so I do not know how good they would actually be,  but the website looks good. I am seriously considering their products and will let you know what I do.

 I will try to add some more summery picnic images and summer flower garden ideas soon! We surely MUST have a Summer here, this year? Please?

Disclaimer: There is some paid for content in this post, but I had already visited Hayes Garden World website and was considering buying from them anyway. As always, the words and ideas are mine, all mine :-)


  1. When I'm on holiday in the Lake District I always pay a visit to Hayes Garden World & always seem to come away with something.


    1. Thats really good to know Julie! I actually had the same response from a friend who I phoned yesterday about Hayes, and it certainly looks a lovely site - lots of attractions to entertain as well as lovely plants and stuff.

  2. I see we agree on hornets vs wasps. Hornets look far worse than they actually are and wasps are vile creatures.

    Wasps also 'graze' on one of our wooden benches to make their nests in the same way as you've shown here, though of course their jaws are nowhere near as large as their hornet cousins!

    1. Hi VP :-)
      Since we had Hornets, we have had hardly any Wasps :-) As Hornets eat Wasps and will destroy Wasp nests to get to their lavae. Win, win in my book (except for the furniture - but I would STILL rather have Hornets)


Hello! Thank you for reading my blog and for commenting. I try to reply as quickly as I can and I really appreciate your interest in my life and doings here in The Compost Bin.