Thursday, 24 January 2013

Love Is In The Air

Yes it is, despite the snow.

This robin has been visiting the garden recently with its mate, who refused to have its photo taken. Typical. Robins are very territorial, and only tolerate another robin in their territory during the breeding season. Also had a couple of blue tits checking out the nest box, already.

So despite a very wintery picture outside, spring is definitely on the way. And how do I know that, you may ask. Have I been listening to the weather forecasts? Well no, it's more to do with observation.

Take this magpie, for instance. It has not only been flying around with its mate, but they've also been building this:

Yes, even when it was covered in snow, they continued to build this nest. Magpies do tend to nest early, so that their young can be fed on the eggs and chicks of smaller birds, but they don't usually build  the nest this early. And that would mean that the other birds should soon be nest building too. Time will tell. Of course, the magpies could have got their timing wrong. And, to be honest, they were building the nest with very prickly hawthorn branches. Ouch!

This weekend is the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch when you can record the birds seen in your garden. Unfortunately, it also corresponds with the "big garden holiday" when all the birds you've seen in the garden over the past few weeks, decide to take a weekend break. They do, honestly. They've obviously been checking out the internet on their iPhones.

And finally, if you're fed up of the snow, take a look at this:

It's a hellebore, but look at the colour of the leaves. Looks like it's had a good feed, and indeed it has. You see, snow is not just water. It contains lots of minerals as well. And when the snow thaws, it not only waters the plants but feeds them too. Check out the plants in your gardens, when the snow disappears this weekend. They should be looking really happy, as long as they're not knee-deep in water, that is.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - January 2013

It's that time of the month again, to record what's in flower in the garden today.
Well this won't take long.

Helleborus sternii, bowing its head because of the recent snowfall.

Primroses purchased a couple of years ago and still doing well.

Rose Princess Alexandra of Kent, an English Rose bred by David Austin. Remember the rosebud I featured a few posts back, well this is it. Not fully open yet, but not bad for a snowy January day.

And finally, Helleborus orientalis, also featured in the bud post a short while ago. How kind of it to open for today. I'll be featuring this one again when all the buds are open.

So that's it, said it was short. Oh there were some violas and pansies as well, but you would have had to use your imagination, as they were under the snow. They were in full bloom. Really.

If you want to see what's in flower around the world today, why not visit May Dreams Gardens where Carol is hosting this meme. Thanks Carol.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Strawberry Alarm Clock

No, it's not a new variety of Strawberry
Or a reference to the 60's rock band.

But these are flowers on Strawberry Buddy, an ever-bearing variety. I featured this variety last year, and explained that it flowered and fruited throughout the growing season, not just in June. However, here we are at the beginning of January, the middle of our UK winter, and it's flowering.

Oh, and did I mention it's fruiting as well ?  I really don't think the fruits will ripen, but who knows. Anyway, I've tidied the plants up, a job I usually do to strawberries in early spring, and I'll see what happens next. In fact, I've already started doing a spring clean in the garden already. With hellebores now in full bud, and bulbs showing through, I thought I'd prepare for the spring display. I know it's very early, but with the mild weather we're having right now, it won't do any harm, I hope.

A few days ago, I saw this magpie in the garden. Now it's not my favourite bird, by any means, having seen it take many a young bird every spring. But I couldn't help but notice its remarkable plumage. And now, not only are there two magpies in the garden, but they've started building a nest, already. Is my calendar broken ?  It is midwinter, isn't it ?

And finally, a look at that squirrel-proof feeder, you know the one that works:

Well they never claimed it was mouse proof, did they ?

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Slugging It Out

It's official; 2012 was the 'Year Of The Slug' in the UK,
And 2012 was the wettest year on record in England.
Happy New Year.

I could have put a photo of a slug here, you know. I mean it wouldn't have been difficult, they don't exactly run away from the camera. But then I thought, no, I'd feature another pest instead. These are feral pigeons. We have a flock of them that fly around and for some reason, they always land on one particular house roof. Bet the house owners aren't very happy.

I've never seen the pigeons feeding in the area, we only get Wood Pigeons in the gardens around here. But I often see this flock flying around and landing on this one roof. Why ?  Maybe it's the pigeon equivalent to Starbucks, without the coffee of course. Maybe they just meet there for a good chinwag.

And finally, as all the seed and plant catalogues drop through my letter box, I'm faced with a bit of a dilemma. You see, it used to be so much easier to choose plants that could put on a decent show in the summer. It was always a lottery as to whether the sun would shine frequently, but usually you could rely on the soil drying out by midsummer.

This time last year, in the middle of a drought, I purchased lots of drought-tolerant plants. Well they might have been drought-tolerant but they certainly weren't deluge tolerant. So what to buy this year ?  Might leave it a bit before I decide.