Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wild Things

 The snow is slowly melting away in the garden,but the birds are still flying in to feed.This Dunnock sat feeding for ages.They normally hop around the edge of the sunken border or between the pots on the path.His feathered coat is quite ornate,with the black and brown stripes.
 The Blackbirds are the most frequent visitors to the garden.This weekend it is the RSPB big garden bird watch.When you spend one hour counting all the birds (or the most birds of each species that you see in the hour) in your garden/park/wherever you do it.
The results will be available in March.It will be interesting to see if the terrible wet 2012 has effected bird numbers.The birds are like friendly garden spirits.When its too snowy and icy watching them outside is therapeutic.I saw a tiny bird this morning hopping along the Butterfly Bush branches,and feeding on the fat balls.I had to goto the RSPB website to identify it..It was a juvenile Goldcrest.The first time I have ever seen one..
Two programmes caught my attention.The first one was on Channel Four called Wild Things,about the wild plants growing in the British Isles.How they have changed over time,using maps that plot where individual species are found growing.Some have spread like wildfire,where as others have started to disappear.They look at what has happened to the native British plants.
 The first program looked at Danish Scurvy Grass,Bluebells,and Lichen.Danish Scurvy Grass is a coastal plant that is growing along the motorway verges now miles from the seaside.The salt spread on the roads to stop it from freezing gets sprayed into the verges.The seeds get drawn along by fast cars,which is why it is called the fastest Plant in Britain.
  The British Bluebell was looked at with its extremely complex scent,and compared to the non native but spreading all over Spanish Bluebell.The problem is the two species are producing hybrids,and they are worried the Native British Bluebells will die out.I cant wait for March/April to find a Bluebell wood.The scent from all the flowers is what people remember.I will be close to the Bluebells sniffing them when they flower.
  The book was sent free for me to read,and it is beautifully photographed and written.It makes you want to walk outside and see what wild plants are growing.A wild plant growing in your garden is a weed!The natural world is alien to a whole generation of people.I hope this inspires more people to look at whats growing around us.I love the three new presenters and hope they get a chance to do longer more in depth programs in the future.I remember David Bellamy was the first person who got excited by Botany.If you can read the book I would.
  The other program was on BBC1 and was called Allotment Wars and showed the darker side of allotments.Terrible petty committees trying to evict plot holders, sabotage of prize vegetables and peoples sheds, arguments between plot holders that lasted years..
 It painted a grim picture,but probably not reflective of most allotments.Generally people are willing to help their plot neighbours,sharing tips,plants,and equipment.Most Vegetable competitions are good natured but competitive.
  Councils are also reducing the size of plots,and increasing the number of plot holders which can only increase tensions.You need to hope you get on with your neighbours who are around you.Councils sold off large amounts of land before allotments become fashionable so now there are horribly long waiting lists before you can even put your spade or fork into the soil.
   There is a big movement now to grow your own food,to know where your food comes from,and what chemicals have been applied to it.If you love cooking then growing your own fresh ingredients is a big draw.I have seen several top end restaurants that have kitchen gardens near them for the chefs to harvest and cook from what is in season.
  I think that gardening,and growing your own will bring people together generally.An allotment is like a small organic village with many people striving towards the same aim.Growing Vegetables,and Fruit.
  Gardening is one of the few activities that can cross class boundaries,and geography.Anyone can garden from massive country estates,down to small window boxes or pots on the windowsill.The activity is stress relieving,therapeutic,and deeply satisfying.I think people have got the kick ever since they planted the first seeds and saw their plants growing.

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