Friday, 30 January 2009

Gardeners Old and New

I love to read books of quotes especially if they have a connection with people that were gardening 200 or so years ago......and going through the same experiences that we do now. Gardening has basically remained the same and you can't say that about many things.
William Shakespeare wrote ;
Sweet Flowers are Slow and weeds make haste. How true!

This one I find quite a laugh ;
Gentlewomen if the ground be not too wet,may doe themselves much good by Kneeling upon a cushion and weeding. And thus both sexes might divert themselves from idleness and evil company. William Coles 1656.

Do the birds know its going to be chilly again as they were feeding non stop all day as was the squirrel. I didn't venture out there today though as I was busy on other things.

It will be nice to see some lovely Spring Flowers like the ones in today's photo. What with all the depressing news around Spring can come as early as it wants to cheer us all up a bit.
The other photo was a shot taken up in the village of Grasmere in the Lake District that we visit regularly.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Treats for birds

Do you like cooking? Well how about making something tasty for the birds that are visiting your gardens. It will help keep them going in all the cold weather we can expect in the next few days.
Soak some breadcrumbs[brown are best] in some water until soft and then add a mix of seeds and nuts and re hydrated berries. All you do then is press this all down in a greased loaf tin and bake for about 15 mins until a nice golden colour. Let it cool and hey presto!
A really quick and easy treat is to hollow out an old apple and fill it with a mix of cooked rice ,seeds re hydrated dried fruit and berries, suet and and other tasty birdie morsels. go on they will love you for it!

These lovely Hyacinths came up in the garden last year . I actually think they look far nicer in a spring garden than in the house and also in the house their rather overpowering smell is not every ones cup of tea. If you do buy prepared bulbs though you can plant them out in the garden where they will come up in following years but will probably revert to white ones.
From my wildlife Diary; Feb1997Small grey bird eating bread on patio.. black cap. Foggy day.
Pied wagtail and pair chaffinches in garden.
January 30th Thurs 2003 Saw gold crest in fir tree on patio, morning and afternoon. Robins blackbirds wood pigeons 2 pied wagtails, nearly all species been feeding a lot. Sunny cold windy day.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Cold again perhaps

Is it going to be a cold February? Looking at next weeks weather it seems likely... feeling like minus5-7 again. so spring might be a little delayed. We often have a little cold snap but I was kind of hoping it would be around the 13Th..... I'll tell you why soon.

Planted up a nice winter window box yesterday and it looks a bit more cheerful at the front now... I have definitely got a bit of Spring fever as have been clearing out no end of things this last couple of weeks.

All the cats are on mice alert at the moment ,I think a nest must have emerged from one of the stone walls . Tom had another yesterday but I scooped it up and put it under the shed. Poor cowering little beastie, ha.
Oh well not much tonight but will see what tomorrow brings.

The photos today are of two lovely places on the Southern part of Scotland that I never tire of visiting. Dare I say its unspoilt, you can find wildlife and sandy beaches and time to forget about that busy world... don't go leave it all for me,ha!

Monday, 26 January 2009

Sixth of the sixth and nostalgia

I have been tagged by Emma to show the sixth picture from my sixth photo folder and it turns out to be a lovely view taken from Fort Grey in Guernsey in September of 2008. It shows one of the lighthouses that has guarded these treacherous waters for many years but even so the area is littered with many wrecks.
We had only arrived on the island that morning by boat and had driven across here on our way to our hotel, parked the car and then I left a not so very jolly 'Green Giant 'in the car{ he who never gets seasick had done] and went off to take these pictures.

While I was searching for that I came across this other picture taken around 1968 or so and its of me and my rabbit Ringo and two friends of that time. We were in our back garden in Suffolk..... it seems such a long time ago and yet I can still remember the fun times we had in that Garden .It was large with a big expanse of lawn , very similar in size to my own now.Ah memories!

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Martin Mere magic

What a buzz there was today at Martin mere reserve nr Southport. Like everyone else in the hides it was a case of not knowing where to look first.... it seemed like there was a bird of prey on every post! Two Peregrines put on a real show for us. One could be seen ripping up a bird as its meal down by the mere, while at the same time trying to see off an opportunistic seagull that kept nipping in and grabbing what he could. Then the Falcon flew to a post and sat with his mate, we presume.
Further out on the reserve we spotted Buzzards and another falcon.
They really put on a good show for everyone and the Swans were in fine voice ,crowded into the main pool. It won't be too long now and they will be off on their journey with their young and that will be goodbye until next October..Nov.

The photo of the peregrines was taken on the zoom but they were so far away it does not show them up very well. Our new Scope provided us with a lovely view though and we both came away feeling pretty pleased.

Tom had a mouse today and was chucking it about a bit but he was spotted before he had killed it and the lucky little thing escaped....well we think he did but an hour or so later Bebe had one to and this one was hm............... oh well!
I noticed the Snow drops are just about to open and one daffodil is in bud in the garden and I quickly planted a couple of the plants I bought the other day while I was out there.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Planting for wildlife

I walked around a Garden Centre today and was thinking about flowers that will actively bring in more insects and butterflies to my own garden this summer. At the moment the biggest draw in the garden for the butterflies has to be the Buddleja, which by late summer usually has many Red admirals and Peacock butterflies feeding on it.As much as I love this plant I think mine is a B.davidii and it just gets too large and woody . I am on the lookout for one of the cultivars of this, which tend not to grow as vigorously. The photo seen here was taken in 2007, as was the Sunflower. The bees never left that sunflower alone all the time it was in flower and when it had finished I dried off the seed and kept some and fed the birds the rest.
I find Fungi really interesting and they make great photo shots . The one here was taken in Kirkudbright in Scotland. We just spotted it on a little patch of grass in the town. I will have to try and identify it from a book, unless anyone can tell me what it is?

I spotted the Gold crest today on next doors old Christmas tree, that they planted in their garden. I was glad to see he still visits as when my tree came down I thought he had gone to pastures new.
On the way home today we stopped at Southport marshes and looked through the scope. Still loads of geese and ducks , lapwings and snipe feeding there and it was a beautiful day to see them as the skies were blue and it was sunny.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Be ready for the unexpected

Went down the Greenhouse today to tidy up a few Geraniums and give them a bit more compost and removed the dead leaves. The greenhouse at this time of year is crammed full of all the plants I am trying to over-winter but in all the confusion of pots and trays I came across crocus bulbs I'd bought and then forgotten about. I need a nice calm mild winters day to have a good sort out.
The trouble is I have outgrown that greenhouse!

Filled the bird feeders again but other than that not a lot else you can do in this weather.

So I thought I'd show some photos of a trip we made up to Scotland in Nov 2007 to Caerlaverock at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre. We had gone up the viewing tower when we became aware of a kestrel landing on the roof of the building adjoining it and we managed to quickly take a few photos . He stayed there a while but most of the time he was looking away from us.
The other is a nice shot of the Whooper Swans that winter there on the feeding pond and the other some deer we spotted out on the reserve. It was a great day out!

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Grabbing Garden Goodies

I love Garden centres... big, small. it makes no difference and I am always on the lookout for something different or a real bargain! However sometimes you can pick up some really good value supplies in bargain shops in town as I did the other day. The items you see in the photo here cost me just £6 and I know for a fact they would have easily cost double in the Garden Centres.
I do try to recycle what I can in the greenhouse and we make our own compost. I also try and save seed from certain plants and then sow them the next year...oh and take cuttings and divide plants whenever possible.
Tomorrow if its not too wet ,will pop out and see if the spring bulbs have made any further progress.
Let me know if you have a daffodil or crocus in flower!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Yorkshire Dales Winter

I thought it would be nice to remind myself of one of my favourite places , the Yorkshire Dales, especially around the old market town of Hawes and the lovely little villages that nestle around it.
I enjoy going there at any time of year but prefer the winter months as not only is it quieter but to see the hills in a covering of snow is a magical sight. In all the years we have been going up there ,there has never really been any significant Snowfall though, much to my disappointment!
It does however always manage to snow the week before or after our visit... which is just typical.
The picture of the frozen waterfall was taken in February last year, as was the other field scene. It was great walking over the fields, passing from one little village to another, enjoying all the countryside has to offer. We even spotted two stoats playing, we could hardly believe our luck.
Tomorrow I will post some pictures of some gardening goodies I bought today.

Monday, 19 January 2009

The Snow that came and went

This was taken at about 2pm today. It started to snow and was coming down quite thickly at one point but didn't settle as the ground was too wet. By 3pm it had tailed off to sleet with just a little on the lawn to show for it, then at 4pm, it hailed. So we had a taste of it all today!
Ollie seemed bemused at all this white stuff drifting down and sat on the step for a while wondering if it was safe to go out... he doesn't like getting wet you know..... bit particular about his paws!
I saw the Sparrowhawk sitting on the lawn at 9am, at first I thought he had a Sparrow but later when I went to see if there were any remains I just found some orange berries, so this time it was a vegetarian snack!
So the only thing I did in the Garden today was replenish the bird feeders .The Sparrows could be heard making a right old din in the hedge when it was snowing.

I don't think I will get the chance here to take a proper winter snow scene photo, where it is hanging off the trees and bushes, we just seem to get a smattering and its further inland that gets the real stuff these days.
Certainly nothing like Feb 1684 when the Thames was frozen solid from Jan to early March and they held the big Frost fairs and there was Fox hunting and wrestling and oxen roasted! And in 1775 Rooks attempting to fly, fell from the sky with wings frozen.. brr!
Lets see what tomorrow brings.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Plants for Peanuts!

Well so much for the Storm, it got really windy and rained for half an hour and that was it! I know why, it was because I was prepared for it, had moved anything likely to blow over if I hadn't would have been 120 mile an hour winds at least!

I managed to pick up some bargain plants today in the sale section at a little garden centre. They were a little jaded looking but will pick up with a little tender loving care as they say! Well I got them all for £7 ..full retail £38. I am not planting them this week though, will hold off while we have low temperatures.

When I went down the Greenhouse I happened upon Bebe hiding in the bushes as you can see. He thinks the birds can't see him,but lets face it, he's hardly invisible at his size. Those diet biscuits he's on are not doing their job, ha!

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Along the Canal Bank

These photos were all taken today. Blue skies, sun reflecting on the water.... it could be summer but they don't tell the true was finger tingling chilly I can tell you. We went for a short trip up the Canal and while 'the other half ' was rummaging around for dry matches to light the little gas stove I went off with the camera. If I had turned around and pointed the camera the other way you would have seen a darkening sky, the beginning of the Atlantic storm waiting off the Irish Sea for tonight. The wind was beginning to whip up to, so we were soon on our way back.
The seed heads looked beautiful against the low winter sun and I could see a couple of little birds fly from one bank to the other to take the tasty morsels that they offered. We also spotted a Heron waiting patiently at the waters edge behind the swaying reeds.

The Squirrel was back on the lawn and on my ground feeder this morning, he thinks its Spring or something as he was hopping and skipping all over the place! A certain Aunt of mine will be saying ah... blimin squirrels... right about now. They are the bane of her life always eating her bird food !
I know they say that there is a decline in the number of House Sparrows but you wouldn't think so if you lived here.. they are all over the garden. Perhaps its because we have so much of the habitat that they like .. hedges, trees and a constant supply of food. They do have to be careful of two things though, the cats and their arch enemy the Sparrowhawk!

Well lets hope not too many people have too much wind damage to wake up to... till tomorrow bye
Click on photos to enlarge!

Friday, 16 January 2009

A Primrose they say,can brighten your Day!

Took the camera out to the garden today to see if I could find something to snap..... and this little Primrose was the result, as was the empty bird log..more on that though in a minute. I have my doubts that the primrose will look so immaculate after the predicted very windy weekend we are supposed to be in for! While I was out there I also spread a full bag of bark chips over the borders I'd cleared as protection for young new shoots against anymore cold weather, have no doubt that the Blackbirds will have kicked it all back on the lawn by tomorrow! Just finished and it began to rain... so that was that and back to more chores in the house. Also put out some Wren food in the hope of catching more glimpses of these shy ,tiny birds that dart about so much, maybe even get to take a photo if I am lucky!

The little log feeder is empty as you can see, the birds having cleared it again within a day or so but I don't go and buy another, I just get a few of those cheap little fat balls and push them into the empty holes... much less expensive than a new log.

I found the photo of Bebe, at home and very ,very comfortable on my desk chair in the Summerhouse last!

Diary; January 14Th 2002 saw Pied wagtail on tree near Pond,other day also saw Grey wagtail.

Fri January 15Th 1999 Very windy, trees really blowing. From kitchen window noticed two unusual birds on wood nut feeder on line, looked through bird book....Long tailed tits ' Pied wagtails again on patio. No frost or snow so far this winter. [Long tailed tits come into the garden now quite regularly.]
Jan 2007 11Th;Have seen two squirrels frequently running the length of the fences... its their motorway ha! Last week saw a Grey wagtail on Patio. Loads of Collared Doves around. Ist daffodil out end 1st week January.
Still have not got the Sweet Peas in will try and do that tomorrow!

Thursday, 15 January 2009

The View and the Summer house

When we bought this house ,where you now see the Summerhouse was the vegetable plot. At the time I was not really interested in Veggie growing so it was always a little neglected and when we saw this little summerhouse a few years later in a Sale I thought ,Oh... that would be a nice little hiding place for me.. away from the two men in my life and it would fit really nicely in that plot. That was about 10 years ago and I have never regretted purchasing it although now I would like the space for vegetables, as really it is the best spot in the whole garden for growing them! However I grow a few salad bits in pots and tomatoes in the greenhouse.
You see the trouble in our garden is, its shaded by some fairly large trees ,so you are very limited to where you can grow things. On the plus side there is always a shady spot to be found on a hot sunny day.
I go down to the summerhouse to read ,paint or write or sit with a cup of coffee and usually one of the cats finds me and picks a nice chair and then spends all day snoozing... ah.. what a life they lead!
The other day I showed a photo of the border I cleared, well the photo here, is of that same border when it is mid summer. Its quite natural looking with lovely smelling Roses and Columbines.
Pansies are lovely and just look pretty right up to mid summer and then they get tired and go over but I usually have some in pots every year. as I just love them.
Somewhere I have a photo of Bebe our big cat in the summerhouse I'll try and find it for tomorrow and also more from the diary.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Lancaster Canal

Well nearly didn't get this post up today as had a major computer crash and all I will say is back up anything you would not want to lose!
As promised these are two views taken last summer on the Lancaster Canal. The other is a funny shot of a late roost of Starlings at Martin Mere a bird reserve near here that we visit a lot.

It's been one of those' days', so I'll be back tomorrow when I will be talking a bit about the Garden layout.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Canals and Bridges

For a bit of change today I thought I would write about one of my favourite places which is the Lancaster Canal. On a Summers day it is really lovely to be out on it or walking by it with just the sounds of the countryside all around you.
To see the wildflowers and wildlife that live on there or nearby such as Damsel flies, Dragonflies, Ducks ,Grebes, Curlews flying over , Herons,Kingfishers...oh the list goes on but I have seen all of these and more.
So if you want to see pictures check back into tomorrow.

All quiet in the garden today, the two squirrels were there on the lawn , they may have paired up.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Urns ,Pots and Planters

Stoneware in a garden is something I like to see. Urns , troughs, planters, as I think they give a sense of timelessness. I'm lucky having a fairly big garden as I have been able to accommodate a few here and there and try to plant them up seasonally. I think they they look at their best in the Summer as the bedding plants trail nicely down them but Spring bulbs also look lovely too. So today I have included pictures taken of them during past Springs.

After the rain last night the garden was quite muddy but when I read in the paper that we are in for Gales and rain followed by another cold snap I decided to spend another hour or two clearing more borders today. The Brown waste bin is so heavy and full that I half expect it not to be emptied...... really though they are getting some good compost material out of me,ha!

From my Diary ;
Fri Jan 14 2000, Outside in afternoon ,heard a flutter of wings and a Sparrowhawk seemed to be after something in the holly bush at end of garden . It flew up over garden and birds called in alarm and I watched it circle over house and get higher and higher in the thermals until it disappeared. Later saw Jays in tree at end of garden. Squirrel taking coconut![ There were 2 squirrels on the lawn today]
Tues Jan 12th.;1999
Last night it snowed and early morning it snowed and after the heavy frost of yesterday and day before pond frozen and the birds many blackbirds. I filled all the feeders and put food for ground birds, Pied wagtail.. tits of all types..squirrel on nut feeder next door... slushy and gone by afternoon.

The other photo is of Tom one of our two ginger cats.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Fast foward to Spring

Because it's such a grey day here today I thought It would be nice to see what we have to look forward to in the coming weeks. January is such a quiet month in our gardens but I can go out in the greenhouse and tidy a bit ,wash some pots or like the other day have a tidy and sweep up in the garden and I did feel better for it. I took a before and after photo as proof,ha!

The other photos are from Spring last year and Spring 2007 . I put loads of Tulips in pots and in the beds and they were lovely for several weeks. The other is a pretty Auricula, which I really love as they are so soft and velvety.They are natives of Central Europe and in the 19th century they were experimented on to produce so many different colours.
The name of the Tulip comes from the turkish name for a Turban ,tulbend, which the flowers now you know,ha!

Saturday, 10 January 2009

TheMoon and a feathered visitor

Tomorrow night is a Full Moon but because it is going to be cloudy ,windy and rainy, last night would have been the best night to see it at its finest here. Which I did as I donned my coat at about 10pm and went out with the camera to try and see what kind of photo I could try and capture. It has a fairly good zoom on it and the photo here was the result. I was also looking at it through our scope which is really for bird watching but I could clearly see craters...... It was well worth getting frozen for,brr!

Today we had a rare visitor who came for his lunch and who wasn't going to be put off by a few bossy Blackbirds. Yes, after my saying just the other day that I had not seen a Field fare, there he was on the lawn for most of the morning! We didn't half have a frost last night so I guess he was hungry and there was his equivalent of fast food..apples. The photo is not brilliant as he was a fair way down the garden and would not stay still.

Scrap booking goes hand in hand with gardening and gives me lots of ideas and the effort seen here was inspired last summer by my sunflowers.

Friday, 9 January 2009

The Holly and the Hens

My aim in the garden is to make it as wildlife friendly as possible and on the whole it does pretty well,despite having four cats prowling around. I'm afraid there have been some fatalities amongst the bird population at various times but as my cats are getting older and lazier this has been reducing yearly.
Some would say don't feed the birds if you have cats but I do in the winter because mostly the cats are in sleeping during the day when the birds are feeding. The feeders are hung up high though just in case.
I never use slug pellets or chemicals harmful to wildlife and there are plants to attract bees butterflies, birds etc. Also important are small hiding places for Field mice and Shrews and of course Hedgehogs need homes and we have hedgehog houses plus woodpiles.
All these things make a difference as we have all the animals and insects above in the garden.
Anyway more about all that another time!
The Hens... Henny Penny and Lenny were with us for about 5-6 years. They were brought to me in a sack of all things, having been rescued by a very kind neighbour of ours . They were lucky as the others left at the place where they came from, were not locked away that same night and a fox got in! They were a breed called Polands .....very fancy. Lenny was the most friendly Cockerel and a very good husband to his girls, always keeping them safe and finding the choicest worms for them. We made them a lovely snug hen house from pallets and bits of wood we had and it served them well. They all went to the Chicken run in the sky a couple of years ago but while we had them they had the run of the garden and often popped into the kitchen to see if I had a titbit for them, so I think they had a good life.

The large bush in the photo is a Holly.. it just keeps growing but it makes a fantastic safe haven for birds and Blackbirds nest in it most years. It does not bear berries though.

I was out in the garden today for 3 hours clearing borders ,sweeping , cutting back and generally tidying. It was very pleasant as it was not too cold and there was no wind, The ground had thawed out well too. The Robin followed me about and I spotted a Wren on some pots.
Oh and Ollie had to come out and see what I was doing. He thought he was safe with me there as he's a big baby really, pretends he's a hard nut but he's not, ha!