Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Eve

I'm working tonight as the year changes from 2009 to 2010. I hope everyone has a happy new year. This is my Great Tit with his black Cap clinging to the Apple tree in soft light.

The wildlife from the garden wishes everyone a happy new year, and hopes that your gardens will grow beautifully in the Spring and Summer.
The Squirrel is sat looking for the waterbowl which I took down during the big freeze as it froze into a large ice block. He wanders where it has gone, and was hanging on looking befuddled at the empty space within the metal ring.
Have a drink on them at midnight!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wintery Walk

The weather turned very cold last night and a freezing wind has blasted us. I decided to take Cat for a winter walk around the local nature reserve and boating lake at Pugneys. The lake was frozen over in all but the deepest waters. The birds from the reserve lake had flown across to the watersports lake which was not as frozen. The dinghys, canoes, and peddelos were stacked up as the waterpsports centre is shut untill the first of January. The frozen water meant they could not do any of those things either..

There were loads of honking Canadien geese flying from field to field, in a cacaphonous mass of wings and beaks. They all flew en masse following the leader.

This lake water looked like ying and yang. The bottom left hand corner is frozen. The top right hand corner is deeper water and had not frozen. Hundreds of birds were in the unfrozen water eating and swimming.

The Geese are a spectacle as they flew low over the tree's before they skimmed the water untill their feet stuck out to slow them down as they landed. They managed to avoid landing on the ice.
The whole of Pugneys path was covered in ice. We slipped and slid around like bambi on ice, and got frozen by the cold wind.
We ate Tomato and Red Pepper soup with a Ciabatta roll and butter to defrost at the cafe. Only a few people were brave enough to venture around the chilly lake.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Xmas Day 2009

Happy Christmas to all the people who read the blog. The Hyacinth is just showing a hint of pink flower with a lovely candy scent..
I got up with Cat to put the turkey in the oven. The house is asleep and the snow is still layed on the garden.
It is not snowing but there is snow in the garden. A technical white Xmas?
I hope you all have a great day, and that Santa brings you lots of gardening gifts!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Two Bears Under The Tree

The two Christmas bears sit under the tree guarding the presents. They are excited that there is only one sleep left before Xmas day..

We brought Santa-Bear from Hils loft, the one on the left). The Harrods bear on the right is called Maxwell and sports an Xmas jumper that Colin Firth would be proud of (On Brigitte Jones Diary). An Xmas tree, a gingerbread man, an xmas pudding, and some toy drums adorn the hand knitted woolen jumper with white furry sleeves..

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Blackbirds And Beatles

Its the 23rd day of December, two sleeps before Xmas day..
I went outside to get the Pars-neeepps (thats how I say it to Cat...Parsnips) to discover the ground was frozen solid and the parsnips were encarcerated in icy soil. I need to wait for the ground to defrost before I can dig them up.
Cats Mum gave us the Turkey today, a large fifteen pound bird. We're working out cooking times now for the Xmas day dinner.
Its not snowed today, and in places the snow is melting slowly. The freezing night time temperatures have turned the ground icy.
I slipped over at Hil's house on the ice cutting my hand open. Owch!
Her garden was full of male Blackbirds fighting over the bread she left out. I saw House Sparrows, Starlings, a Blue Tit, and a little Wren. The snow and ice have driven them into the gardens for food supplys.
I saw my Chaffinch this morning singing alone in the apple tree in our garden. He has a look of the Redbird (Cardinal) of America with the little Mohican tuft of hair on his head.
The snow makes you look at the garden in a new light. I love how the ice is frozen along the tops of branches, like nature made ice sculptures.
When we arrived back Tom (Cats son) and his band serenaded us with A Ticket To Ride by the Beatles. Two acoustic guitars, one Bass Guitar, and Sweetbox drums...
Its nearly Christmas..

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Snow Scenes

As the song goes the weather outside is frightfull. It snowed heavily a few days ago, and it has laid on the ground. The night temperature dropped to minus five degrees centigrade last night. The snow is more icy now and stuck into blocks.

The Verbena Bonarensis with a new frosty, wintery look after the sub zero night temperatures.

One of my Roses is hanging on manically to its leaves. These have been frosted by the freezing Russian air overnight. I love the crystals that form on plants, feeders, and buds like iron filaments near a magnet. The little shards stick up at funny angles.

This is the wintery garden this morning. The UK always grinds to a halt whenever a few flakes of snow fall. The railways get delays, flights are grounded at airports, the Eurostar stops running altogether, and the motorists break down or crash on icy untreated roads. The only people who like snow are romantics like me, and the children who can play in the snow. Sledging down hills, throwing snowballs, making snow angels, and building snowmen with carrots for noses, and coal for eyes.
Its three days untill Christmas day. I have to try to go into the veg patch to dig up the chilled Parsnips that we sowed in June. Hopefully there will be enough for the Xmas Day dinner.
The garden birds have been busy today feeding in the garden. There are Goldfinches, House Sparrows, Blackbirds, and a very handsome Chaffinch who keeps coming onto the Apple tree.
The white glow of the snow makes it feel like an Xmas card come to life.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Two Calling Birds

This is one of my Favourite decorations on the tree. It is stained glass effect with two calling birds.
I love the light streaming through the coloured glass. The Tree is decorated with many baubles, figures, chocolates, and tinsel.
We bought some Satsumas on Friday from Hampsons. I read that oranges used to be special gifts in the 1930's, that filled Childrens stockings. We have Chocolate Oranges now in 2009, but I like the smell of a peeled Satsuma, and the juicyness of the orange.
Five days to go...I will be sleeping today ready for my last night shift.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Hyacinth Update

The forced Bulbs have been brought out of the dark cupboard and are sat on a dresser by the backdoor.
They have turned green, and the flower spikes have developed within the hand like folds of the leaves.
I do not know if they will flower for Xmas day. They have been grown commercially since the 16th Century.
These Hyacinths will have red flowers and a scent to fill a room.
They are one of the flowers that you either love or hate. I love them. They just have a magic way of growing beautifully scented flowers in a relatively short space of time.
I read you can get special glasses to grow them indoors using tap water only. I will be looking for these Hyacinth glasses on Ebay.
For some people with Grandparents Hyacinths are a part of Xmas.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Winter Wonderland

It started snowing a little yesterday. As I slept I dreamt of falling snow flakes. When I woke up I jumped up to peek out of the curtains. The roads, paths, and grasses were dusted with white. The morning was gleaming with bright snow reflected light.

The back garden was covered too. I went out after making a coffee, to examine the cold stuff and feel it crunching under my cloggys. The bird's water was frozen solid in the large bird bath, and the smaller water bowl. I have since gone back out to break the ice, and replace it with fresh water, so the garden birds have something to drink. They had left lots of little splay toed footprints over the snowy ground, and along my garden bench.
I saw mystery paw prints left in the snow, maybe the two resident Cats have been in the garden overnight? Its like being Sherlock Holmes seeing who has been along during the night when the air was cold and still.

My Frog plant waterer looks like he is shivering in the snow. There is more snow forecast today. It makes me smile still, and revert back to childhood years. The excitement of snow falling, and laying.
The garden looks like an Xmas card scene. All I need is the Robin to pose for a photo for me. There is only a week left untill Xmas...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Rainy Day Baking And Xmas Suprise

Xmas came early today in the shape of a cardboard box by the back door. It was from Crocus, a mail order gardening company. I had not ordered anything from them. Cat said she had not either. I opened the box to find this gift wrapped bare root David Austin Rose. Wisley, a pink Rose. It was from my Mum (Thanks Mum!).
I love David Austin Roses. It will look beautiful flowering in the summer next to Gertrude Jekyll, and Lady Emma Hamilton.

It has been raining for a few days now. I keep looking out and hope it will get cold enough for snow. Maybe tomorrow a few flakes will fall..
I planted the Rose into a large David Austin pot, and moved it to the backdoor so I can look at it.
I decided as I got soaked in the rain, to do some Xmas baking. I made Chocolate chip muffins, and some Mince Pies.
I enjoy making the pastry, filling it with the spice mincemeat, and putting the tops on. The final stage not shown is dusting the mince pies with icing sugar.
Christmas for me tastes like a home made mince pie. Its therapeutic to use your hands when you cannot get into the garden because of the rain. The taste reminds me of childhood.
The house smells of home baking, as the rain falls outside.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Floral Suprises

The Amaryllis I bought from the Autumn flower show has grown a second flower spike with four Flowers on it. They are red and white striped blooms. Smaller than the usual large Amaryllis blooms. I did not think it would flower again after the first spike had five flowers.
The colours feel complimentary to christmas.
It has been raining again and the garden is waterlogged. I looked today at the Parsnips growing in the raised bed at the back of the garden. They looked healthy and a good size. I hope they are lovely to eat at Xmas with the Turkey.
I need to do my Christmas shopping tomorrow and get gifts for my gardening friends.
What to buy them? Seeds, gardening books, tools, gloves, a garden radio?
What do the blog readers want to find in their Xmas day stocking?
I know Monty Don has a new book released. Im a sucker for packets of Seeds. I loved my gifts from Cat before of David Austin Roses.
Its always nice opening presents for the unexpected suprises.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Garden Acrobat

The Squirrel came back the other day and displayed his acrobatic skills. He climbed up the bird feeder pole and then leaned across to the sunflower hearts.
His back legs are gripping the pole like a russian gymnast.
He nibbled like this for about ten minutes before scampering off along the fence.
Its been a quiet day today. I got some seeds from Hometown seeds. Ten lovely packets to grow in the spring..
They have come all the way from Utah.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Xmas Plants

Its the eleventh of December today. I thought I would photograph the plants we have, that are used traditionally at this time of the year. The first is a wreath tied onto the front door. Pine cones, Fir tree leaves, and the Poinsettias. Arranged in a circle and attached to the door knocker.
The wreath started life as laurels in the ancient greek games for their victorious athletes. Maybe they kept them and hung them on their front doors...
Later the Germans started to use wreaths with candles to celebrate advent. I just love the colours and xmasy feel, a warm glow for people who visit the house.

The Christmas tree was put up by me and Tom. I find it therapeutic to get the tree out and then decorate it with the tinsel, fairy lights, baubles, and the angelic figure at the top. The flashing lights and glittering colours always cheer me up. It just needs wrapped presents now underneath it to complete the look.
Here in Britain it was Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert who first popularised the Xmas tree. A woodcut in the 1848 London Illustrated showed the first decorated Fir Tree in a front room. This was altered and used in the United States, starting the tradition there too.
Prince Albert remembered his own childhood in Germany, and how excited he and his brother were. Their tree had candles and sweets on it..
In the dark winter months the Fir tree was always green and alive. The deciduous trees are all bare and sleeping. The pagans used to have Fir Trees as symbols of hope and rebirth, before the Christian faith took hold.
The shops today were selling little sprayed Fir Trees, Xmas Cactuses, Kalancoe's in baskets held by Teddy bears in Santa Hats, and the famous Poinsettias.
Its funny how plants become entrenched in Christmas traditions, and how year after year we return to them. The Xmas Tree and Xmas wreath have become symbolic of the time of year.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Winter Day

The Apple tree in the garden is bare now, all the leaves have dropped off onto the ground. The Goldfinches still use it as their favourite perch to survey the garden, fly to the feeders, and to sing at each other.
I took this silhouette photo of them against a cloudy December sky.
The temperature is dropping daily, and it gets dark earlier. My solar lights have now run out of battery. They need summer sunshine to recharge themselves!
The soil is cold and damp. The only thing that seems to be growing is Mushrooms in the grass, and under the shrubs.
Wildlife watching is what you can do in the Winter, and reading Seed catalogues to plan for next years spectacular garden. I wander which plants will survive the winter, and which will succumb to the frosts and ice when it comes.
As long as I keep the bird food and fresh water topped up the Goldfinches will keep me company during the short days of winter.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Pink Tutu's And Xmas Tree

The Christmas Cactus has flowered a few days ago. Its been sat most of the year growing its leaves away.
Its now made masses of little white buds. These expand and turn into pink flowers like this. Its like two ballet dancers in tutu's.
I put up the Xmas tree today, and decorations all over the walls.
The Xmas music was played on you tube and through the DVD player.
I have taken the forced Hyacinth out of the cupboard to try to make it bloom by Christmas day.
Nineteen days left yet.. I wander what gardening gifts I will give away, and receive..
The Xmas lights, tree, and music are part of the holiday festivities. I'll take a photo of the tree for the blog.
What are other gardeners doing to celebrate Christmas?

Friday, December 04, 2009

Winter Buds

I have just finished my latest set of nights. This Shrub is in the back garden border behind the fence. It has lovely red flower buds on it.
As the weather gets colder and wetter the buds for next years growth have all appeared.
The Apple tree in the pot is covered in buds, as is the Lilac Tree.
I have three days off now to recover, and to hopefully get into the garden.
I will take more photos, weed, and just chill out...