Friday, 15 February 2013

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - February 2013

It's that time of the month again, to record what's in bloom.
But because of the recent heavy snowfall, this is going to be one very short post.

Galanthus Sam Arnott, commonly known as snowdrops. The clue is in the name. Despite the snow they've managed to bloom.

 Clematis armandii, the first bloom of the season. This clematis should be in full bloom in a few weeks.

Helleborus orientalis, the Lenten Rose , love 'em. You wouldn't believe the contortions I had to make to get these photos. They face downwards, you see, but because of the recent snow they were really sulking.

And that's your lot I'm afraid. If you want to see what's blooming around the world today, please visit May Dreams Gardens where Carol is hosting this meme.

And finally, totally off topic, again, have you heard about the recent discovery of King Richard III in a Leicester car park ?  Leicester is just down the road from here, well it's a very long road, a motorway actually, but I digress. A tomb has just been designed, but some folk are saying they want a memorial that also depicts the discovery of his bones. What on earth are they thinking of ?   A parking meter ?

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Snow Joke

Yes, folks, it's coming back again.
Heavy snow forecast.

This photo was actually taken about three years ago, when I was walking home from work. The buses and trams had all stopped running, so I had no option but to walk. Sheffield is built on seven hills, and I had walked up and down two of them by the time I got here. As you can imagine, I was feeling very sorry for myself, but at least it had stopped snowing, and I just stood there knee deep (I'm not very tall) in snow, and admired the scenery around me.

I wasn't taking a shortcut through the countryside, by the way. This is the rear entrance to Birley Spa, an Ancient Roman spa that now sits in the middle of a housing estate. In Roman times, the water was believed to have healing properties; today it comes with an 'elf and safety' warning. In Victorian times, the pond, then used as a boating lake, and the adjacent woodland were a popular tourist attraction, the Disneyland of their day.

I visited the spa several ago, first time since my childhood. As a child, a very small child, yes even smaller than I am now, I remember paddling in the nearby stream, full of frogs and water voles. I never saw the pond then, because the man who lived in the spa house always kept children well away from it. Very wise of him, although I didn't appreciate it at the time.

Anyway, back to the recent visit. The spa has been renovated. You know the sort of thing, Roman marble columns patched up with concrete. Although it is now a Grade II listed building, so future work should be more in keeping with the old building. As well as seeing the pond for the first time, I also went under the spa house to see the actual Roman spa. Unfortunately, the stream has been concreted over and now runs underground.

Saw this in the garden today, a Goldcrest. The first time I ever saw one was last year, amongst a flock of goldfinches, but this one came alone. It stayed in the garden for a couple of hours, undeterred by the blue tits who were constantly chasing it off the feeders. The only problem with seeing unusual birds at this time of year is that they are usually an indicator of bad weather to come. Have I mentioned the snow ?

And finally, totally off topic, I thought I'd just give a mention to the High Speed train service that has just been announced this week; due to arrive in Sheffield in twenty years time. Somehow the phrases 'high speed' and 'twenty years' don't sit well together do they ?  And, apparently, the proposed train route runs straight across Sheffield Airport's runway. Now that is going to be one amazing level-crossing.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

In The Shadows

Although, actually it wasn't.
I'll explain later.

The snow has only been gone a week, and look what I've got, flowers. Yippee. These are spring-flowering pansies that have been blooming since I planted them in the autumn. For the last two weeks they've been under a 6 inch blanket of snow, but don't seem any worse for wear. And the bulbs planted in there have sprung up too.

Last weekend's bird watch went better than I expected. We had a winter wonderland on Saturday after another dollop (technical term) of snow. Hardly any birds that day, but Sunday, after a deluge of rain, snow all gone and along came the birds. I'd put out plenty of food for them, especially on the bird table, but they were a bit reluctant to go on there. Can't imagine why.

Now back to that shadow thing. Today is Groundhog Day in the U.S. or in Punxsutawney to be precise, when a Groundhog called Phil ( I know, I'm not making this up, you know) comes out of hibernation. He didn't see a shadow today, which apparently means an early spring, in the U.S. at any rate. Obviously a very scientifically proven legend. I'd like to see Professor Brian Cox explain that one.

Meanwhile, over here in the much more subdued UK, we have a legend too. Well we would, wouldn't we?  Ours is called Candlemas Day, and we get a little poem to go with it:

"If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter will have another flight,
But if Candlemas Day be clouds and rain,
Winter is gone and will not come again."

So today has been bright and sunny. Marvellous. And the weather forecasters are predicting Arctic winds and snow next week. I think I prefer the groundhog.