Saturday, January 29, 2011

Wild Garden Spirits

I have got up early today to do the RSPB's big garden bird count. It had dropped to below freezing overnight so the garden was coated in frost. All the water was frozen. I made me cups of coffee and replenished the bird feeders. The most popular bird food is the Sunflower hearts, followed by the seed mix in the bowls.
The one hour passed quite quickly. I tried to scan the garden to see all the birds flying in and out.
There were the common birds like the this House Sparrow. They may be brown but they have character and they are in the garden every day. I don't think that they migrate like the other species. They stay within a kilometer of the area where they were born.

Arriving fashionably late was this Nuthatch (just on the one hour mark). He fed on the mixed seed feeder then flew across to land on the fence. His feet help him to defy gravity and walk up a vertical plane. He was the twenty first bird I saw.
The full list was House Sparrows, Blackbirds, a Collared Dove, Goldfinches,a Great Tit,a Feral Pigeon, Robins, Chaffinches, Blue Tits, and the Nuthatch.
They are still flying in and out of the garden as I write this. I submitted my results to the RSPB's website. These will be collated after the weekend, and the figures for 2011 released in March. It shows how species are doing up and down the country and show a snapshot of the top ten Garden Birds.
An urban garden can bring Wildlife into it, with the addition of feeders. It is very meditative to watch the garden birds. They are like the wild spirits of the Urban Garden.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Winter Green Blues

As Rolf Harris says "can you guess what it is yet?"
As I wrote tidying the garden reveals all new growth on the plants. The majority of plants I used were perennials
They disappear into the ground level over winter but as the day length gets longer, and the sunshine much brighter they start growing in earnest.
The Roses have healthy red tips across all their branches where leafs will explode from.
The Spring Bulbs are peeking up through the soil now after being frozen in for a while.
The Sambuca nigra has velvety black buds that look like mini boa feathers. It is a handsome shrub with its black frond fern like leaves, and bubbling pink champagne flowers floating above them.
The plant I'm willing to grow is the Hanamellis or Witch Hazel. The flowers are strongly citrus scented and are bright orange. They glow around the branches, and are bright colours in the mostly green garden. I cant see any new growth on mine yet.
Spring Bulbs are a blessing for the riot of colour they can bring to a faded garden. They kick start the growing season and get you into the garden to see whats growing.
I planted a few more bulbs. The latest ones to be planted are called Ismene, or Spider Lily's. I also found them to be called Peruvian Daffodils. The white flowers have the trumpet like the ordinary Daffs, but spidery outer petals curving outwards.
The weekend is nearly here and I will do the RSPB's big bird count on Saturday. I hope the birds let me count them, and don't all stay in their roosts for the one hour that I'm counting..

The mystery leaves like a mini cabbage are from a rejuvenated Aquilegia. I have four plants from last year that never flowered. I hope they will this year. I love their natural shape with the spurs trailing behind the flower. There are two mixed ones, and two called Fruit And Nut...(chocolatey name). Apparently Native Americans used to use the plants as a condiment..
I have tomorrow off before two days of working. I hope you all have good green fingered weekends.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Debris And Darwin

I have been chilling in the garden for the past two days. Watching the birds flying into the feeders.
I saw the two Linnetts the other day.I saw a Greenfinch this morning feasting on the sunflower hearts.
The milder conditions seems to have inspired flocks of birds to descend into the garden.
I cleared a lot of the debris left in the wildflower patch. There is some bare soil now ready for any seeds to germinate.
The Pond is cool and clear, and has masses of beasties swimming around. I hope that I will see some Frogs again and dragonflys this year.
I planted the white Echinaceas in the sunken border. I removed two leggy Lavenders to make some space.
I have cleared away the debris that had accumulated over the winter. The cleaning up helps you reacquaint yourself with your plants. Seeing which ones have survived and which ones have disappeared.
I want to order some gardening books. I remember somebody saying about a book about Victorian plant hunters. I cant remember what it was called..
I was looking on Amazon and came across a book about Charles Darwins garden at Hope House. I will order that to read. Its funny how gardening can encompass so many other areas like history, culture, and science.
If you know the title of the plant hunters book email me or leave a comment

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Siskin Suprise

These Teasels and Dried Verbena bonarensis are still striking in the sunken border. They were crushed under the snow, then frozen night after night. They have survived and are very architectural in shape and form together.
These need cutting down and the winter debris in the sunken border cleared ready for the spring bulbs.
I have spent the day watching nature programmes on the BBC i player.
The first was called Human Planet looking at how people have adopted to various environments around the world. The BBC filmed for three years all around the globe, with many indigenous peoples.
The second program was a Natural World Special about the Mesopotamian Marshes in Southern Iraq. These were originally thought to be the inspiration for the Garden of Eden. The former dictator Saddam Hussain wanted to destroy the Indigenous Marsh Arab population. He built Canals and rivers that drained 12,000 km of marshland leaving it as an arid desert.
The BBC filmed an Iraqi mans quest to rebuild the lost marshlands. The Wildlife and Birds returned once it had been re flooded. The old buried seeds of the marsh Reeds survived a decade of dessication, and once the waters flooded the area they germinated. Filling the area back with its traditional plants. It shows how political decisions can decimate an area, and that areas can sometimes be brought back from the edge of extinction.
The garden today was full of birds flying to and from the feeders. The highlight today for me was two Siskins feeding below the Goldfinches. The bowl had mixed bird seed and the Siskins were tucking in. They have black and yellow stripey feathers, with olive green body's and tan undersides. I have not seen them at our Bird Feeders before today..
It is the RSPB's big garden bird count next weekend. I hope to have an hour in the morning to count the birds for their study. It provides a snapshot of bird numbers all across the UK.
The Spring Bulbs are starting to show themselves from the soil. The green cones are symbolic that Spring is approaching.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Frosty Morning

I am in the middle of my night shifts so this will be a short post..
The Stone Cat is sat in the Lilac Trees pot keeping an eye on the garden. I love the frogs on the boot planter, and two trowels I placed before the snow and ice descended in November.
The garden has been dusted with icy frost this morning. It has a wonderful magic coating everything in fairy dust.
If you have a frosty morning enjoy the spectacle of the ice crystals catching the low winter sun.
The birds are singing away outside, in between darting to the bird feeders.
The blue sky and sunshine makes you feel that the winter will soon be over. I bought some summer bulbs the other day. A white Cone Flower (Echinacea), and Three Spider Lily bulbs. These white flowered beautys will be planted in the wildflower patch next to the pond.
I'm wandering whether to cut down all of last years growth, or just to leave it alone to see what grows..
Gardening is a pleasure, but also a source of ongoing mysteries. I love the fact you never know all the answers. The best thing is trying to work things out..

Friday, January 14, 2011

Winter Light

This was taken today at Pugneys nature reserve. We went for a walk around the lake, a distance of 1.6 miles.
A gaggle of Canadian Geese hung out on the edge of the Lake. The ice was still present and as the water lapped across you could hear the ice cracking underneath. It sounded like a big pepper grinder.
The birds had moved from the frozen little lake to this bigger one.
The Swans were swimming along the edge of the lake. We saw Coots, Cormorants, Ducks, Geese, and Seagulls.
After our nature walk I tidied up the garden a bit. I renewed all the Bird feeders and water. I planted my Toad Lily's into two pots. I repaired the battered cold frame ready for the Leeks and Cabbage seeds.
The Winter sun made everything appear brighter when it was out. The rest of the time it was a twilight. This photo captures the winter light really well..

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Toads, and Seeds

I bought the first new seeds of the year yesterday from Hampsons. three packets of Vegetable seeds. Cabbage, Carrot, and Leek seeds.
I want to grow things that I will eat this year. I will go online shopping later today for some Fruit Trees to join my lone Apple Braeburn.
I bought two Toad Lily roots yesterday. These very colourful plants are from the Himalayas. Herbaceous Perennial meaning they will grow from the root. I bought two which need planting in a pot.
The photo is the Lilac Tree who's buds have started to develop. I love the red, yellow, and green colouration. These will burst into leaf when the temperature warms up.
The cold has been replaced by rain. The garden is getting deluged and waterlogged.
I want to look through my two biscuit tins full of seed packets and see what I can grow this year. Both Flowering plants, and edible plants. I want to buy a heating propagator ready to germinate my Chili Plant seeds. I hope to have a greenhouse to grow the plants on in with a bumper harvest of Jalapeno and Habanero Chilis.
I hope 2011 will be a good growing year. The planning and dreaming starts now.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Plant Gifts

I love the colours on this Cordyline leaf. Cats parents gave us a bag of three plants when they came for Sunday Dinner last week. There was a Cordyline, a Dracaena, and a Third unknown plant with a rosette of leaves. I think it could be a flowering plant..

The bag they came in has been cut to form a mini pot to catch the water that runs through them. The kitchen windowsill is packed with plants now. An indoor garden to admire as the outside one sleeps.
The ice still has not fully melted in the pond or the pink bucket. It is wet and windy today.I have this week off to catch up on the gardening jobs and the allotment.
I bought some more bird food today, and saw that Wilkos have got their Potato and Vegetable sets out already..
Spring must be getting nearer..

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

New Years Wishes

Happy New Year...A little late, but here is the first blog post of 2011.
This colourful window hanging has some beautiful Blue and Violet Iris that shine when the winter sun shines through them.
The weather has warmed up markedly. The snow and ice have melted away. It is not light for very long, but the garden is always a hive of activity with the Garden Birds feeding.
There are always sunflower hearts, peanuts, fat balls, seed mix, and nijer seeds ready to be eaten.
With the New Year comes the new growing Season goals. These are a few things that I want to accomplish in 2011:
1) Clear the Rubbish from the garden and plant the fence path with more Hostas and Roses in Containers.

2) Buy more Patio sized Fruit Trees especially Cooking Apples and Pears. Maybe a Cherry Tree? The Fences are quite sunny so the fruit should grow on well in Pots.

3) Buy a new deeper Pond. Prefabricated Liners are available. The Pond mark one was a great success attracting Frogs and Dragonfly's. It is very calming to look at still water.

4) To make the Allotment more productive. I have a week off after these nights. I will spend a lot of time clearing the plot. I want to spend more time up there. I might have to say do two days a week to keep on top of the weeding and allotment jobs. This has been very difficult with work being exhausting and busy for the end of last year. I want to use my Allotment Diary book that I bought. It has different sections for planning, sowing, and recording harvests. Pockets for putting in Receipts and seed packets..

5) To try to attract more Species of Birds and Wildlife into the garden. The bird feeders and birdbaths have been a great success in 2010.

6)I want to buy a new Camera. I don't know which. The Blog is driven by the Photos alongside the writing. A functional one that can take long garden shots, and macro shots of flowers, insects, and wildlife.

7) I will try to Blog much more regularly. There is another Laptop now so this one can be used solely for storing my photos and doing blog posts. How often do other people blog? I end up with hundreds of posts usually by the end of the year.

8) I want to buy a Greenhouse for the garden. I dismantled my old one but it was just a frame and plastic covering that ripped in the Yorkshire wind. The Strawberry bed on the Raised Sleepers may be sacrificed to make way for the small Greenhouse. It is a brilliant environment and there is magic in growing your own plants from seeds, especially if they flower.

I hope that all the gardens got nice presents, and that the new year has inspired you to think about a Gardens resolutions 2011. Happy New Year people.