My Patch – A Garden update: February 2019

As January ended in light snow, February began with a thick covering, approx 8cms!  Now the weather forecasters hadn’t predicted that much, so I was very pleased I moved all the pots into the glasshouse! 

February 8th – The first batch of daffodils planted are now doing really well and have been joined by the crocus’ which were put in pots.  In the raised bed the snowdrops are in full flower and the hellebore that no-one has ever seen flower is showing nicely 🙂  

February 15th – more plants are starting to emerge in the ‘woodland’ area, snowdrops, cuckoo pint, what I think are bluebells, the crocus’ I planted and also the first lesser celandine I have seen this year.   Its the part of the garden which has received the least attention and it seems to be happily developing on its own.  The buds on the goat willow tree are beginning to open. 

February 17th – my sweet william’s need potting on again so today for the first time I made some newspaper pots!  They are so easy to make and seem to function well enough.  I have only made 15 so far as I want to see how well they are doing in a couple of weeks time before I make more and pot the rest of the plants on.   

February 19th – I had a short window of light after work today so I pruned the climbing rose on the right hand side of the shed.  I still need to get more wire attached to the wall but the rose is ready to be attached once it is done. 

February 22nd – I had today off of work with the sole purpose of cutting back the hawthorn hedge. 

Now I would have just taken a bit off of the top but two out of the three people that live there wanted it cut down to the top of the fence!  I didn’t get the whole of the hedge finished as I needed some assistance cutting the thicker branches with loppers, as the loppers kept breaking!  What I did manage to achieve was saving the hedge from being hacked off with a chainsaw and cut to the same height as last year.  I have cut the tallest branches to a few inches higher than last year, cut the thinner branches back to bud points and managed to save the side of the hedge which faces the field from being cut at all! – normally it gets hacked away so the top of the hedge can be reached!  I do however think the best option for the hedge is for it to be layed.  It has been cut back so much that the main growth doesn’t actually start until about 3-4 foot up the main trunk.  I am hoping that it thickens this year but I’m not holding out too much hope 🙁

While having a break from cutting the hedge I noticed flowers starting to open on the Lily of the Valley bush, just in time for some of the insects who have started to appear in the garden.

February 24th – today I ordered my wildflower seeds from Emorsgate Seeds 🙂

February 26th – tonight we put up another nest box, hopefully they will like the location – the guttering needs fixing and a water butt fitting to it! 

My Patch – February 2019

February 1st – I managed to get to work in all the snow and at lunch they decided to send everyone home.  Of course I didn’t go home I went straight to the patch – I wasn’t going to miss using ‘free time’ to check out what’s going on even if it was snowing!  I headed out and over by the copse found deer tracks and found a robin in the brambles.  I really liked the monotone colour of the field with the snow falling the carrion crow added to the artistic feel.  There were not that many birds on the ground though I did hear a buzzard and overhead 8 lapwing, a black-headed gull and a cormorant all flew over while I was out.  I was looking at the trees when a small movement caught my eye, a wren was at the base of tree trunk looking for food in the little bits of ground there where not covered in snow.   

Once back at the house I sat and watched the birds on the feeders: 2 blue tits, 1 great tit, 5 starlings, 1 robin and one bird that made me look twice – a reed bunting!  I have never seen one in the field or the garden before so it took me a while to recognise it as I just didn’t expect to see one.     

February 2nd – Today was a beautifully sunny day.  I had to go out in the field as we don’t get many days like this a year!  The only footprints in the field were mine, fallow deer, fox, brown hare and rabbit. No other humans had been there.  It’s good to know the creatures of the field don’t get a lot of disturbance.  I know people walk down by the river as there are sometimes dog walkers but generally they only seem to be there at weekends. When I reached the copse I could hear a redwing calling, I finally located it at the top of the trees in the hedgerow just opposite.  

I walked along my normal route down the side of the copse what I hasn’t notice when i walked across the field was the fallow deer led down along the side of the trees, they were really well camouflaged against the brown of the tree trunks.  I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to find them there as they were in the same location where I had noticed the snow had been disturbed yesterday.  

I didn’t want to disturb them so I walked in the next field over on the other side of the copse.  The sun shining through the trees looked really pretty.  It was hard work walking down to the river as the snow seemed to be deep on this side of the trees, in some places it was half way up my calves!  

As I reached the river I noticed three cormorants sat in one of the trees further downstream.  I wouldn’t have normally seen them as I wasn’t technically in my patch.  I have seen the odd one fly overhead so its nice to know there is more than one passing through.  There were lots of hoof prints down by the river, the deer must use the copse to get to the river to drink.  It is actually really useful to go out in the snow when no other humans have been about as the animal tracks have given me a much better idea of how they use the features of the field.  

I haven’t really got to grips with the river yet and this summer I would like to spend some more time there (though I might need to tame some of the vegetation so I can actually see the river!).  I heard a moorhen, saw a blue tit on one of the trees, two pairs of mallard swam by and four long-tailed tit worked their way along the bank from tree to tree.  There are large gaps between each tree so maybe there needs to be a couple of extras added for them.  I felt like a rabbit at one point as shadows moving along the ground caught my eye, thankfully in my case it didn’t mean danger just two grey heron flying over.

I decided to walk all the way around the field so not to disturb the deer on my walk back to the car.  It looks as though they generally only venture to the copse, the river and the ‘island’ which I believe was a meander in the river which had been altered to straighten the river once more.  I do however think this could also be the reason the river bank is eroding and the trees are leaning in the river as they loose their stable ground.  According to the land owner the river is much wider now than it was when he was a child.  

As I walked along the far edge I noticed fox prints, there were more towards the barn and I think it may have caught something as the snow was all scuffed up but there were not any signs of what it might have caught.  It looks like it could have been hiding in the hedge and pounced out.  I noticed a bird box on one of the trees which I haven’t seen before, they have cleared the ditch so I guess that’s why it’s visible now.  I wanted to check to see if had been used but I don’t know who has put it there and didn’t want to interfere.  One of the trees was old enough, to be large enough, for me to stand against its trunk, I liked the shadow the sun was casting of it on the snow.  

I had reached the barn but had to be conscious of the deer that were still relaxing on the other side of the field.  I didn’t want to spook them so moved slowly and stopped regularly to check on them and take more photos 🙂 

February 14th – 20:25 no owls heard – none heard all week

February 17th – The swans have returned 🙂 There were three in the field down by the river. I wonder if they will stay; there were numerous feeding on the crop shoots last year. 

This evening I cleaned out all of the nest boxes ready for this season.  I know last year a great tit started to build a nest in the starling box, what I hadn’t realised was it made a full nest; I don’t think it raised any young, though now I’m not sure and wonder if I missed the signs.  The sparrow terrace had a nest too!  Last year there were no signs of nesting in it at all and I was expecting to have to relocate it this year.  Seeing there has been some success all the boxes were put back in the same locations.  Fingers crossed for more nests this year…

February 22nd  – I spent the day in the garden cutting back the hawthorn hedge.  The birds were not happy with me; a) because I was in the garden and they didn’t want to go to the bird feeder on the left side (their favourite feeder) and b) I was cutting down their favourite place to sit before they dart onto the feeder!  I have promised them that once the fence has been jet washed and painted I will make sure there are some shrubs in pots put next to the feeder that they can use as additional cover.  The great spotted woodpecker kept landing in the goat willow tree, then I noticed another land close by, they seemed to have a disagreement and one flew off.  If I sat quietly on the garden bench, one would come down and feed on the feeders a few meters away.  Later on I heard drumming in the distance.  I spotted my first 7-spot ladybird on one of the plants and a bumblebee was buzzing around but I didn’t manage to locate it to find out what it was.  

It does worry me that the insects are out already, that its going to be warm all weekend and it could possibly get cold again.  What worries me more is the majority of people don’t see this as worrying.  Colleagues at work were talking about how nice the weekend was going to be and that soon they will be able to get the BBQ’s out etc, I mentioned the insects and they sort of went quiet (I often feel like the odd girl in the corner that doesn’t talk about normal things!).  A couple of people engage with talking about their gardens and planting some flowers for the insects – a couple is better than none.

I know there is a lot more in the news about the issues we face but I’m not sure people really see what’s going on around them or how everything interacts – I guess they just aren’t interested.  I managed to convince my office to be more aware about crisp packets; to collect all their empty packets so they can be sent off for recycling.  I was known as the ‘girl collecting crisp packets’ for a while after my office manager agreed I could have a box behind my desk for them, but now people from other departments sometime drop off used packets too!  In my mind any packet collected is better than it ending up in landfill.  I’m just not sure how we convince everyone to care about it!  I think they have to see the effects with their own eyes to understand how it actually effects them.   

February 25th – 19:55 no owls – none heard all week

February 27th – there were 19 fallow deer in the field at sunset.  The long-tailed tits wanted to get to the fat balls to feed, they weren’t happy I was stood in the way watching the deer, they were shouting at me from the hazel tree, I moved so they could feed.  Two tree sparrows were following each other through the jasmine looking for bugs, they flew off together, I hope they find one of the nest boxes nearby, though last year some did nest in the roof space just above the jasmine so fingers crossed.  

The mute swans didn’t stayed longer than a couple of days, hopefully they will come back when the crop is more suitable for eating!

My Patch – A Garden update: January 2019

I know everyone says January is the best time to plan your garden for the year because you are looking at it in is barest form.  I think I have a plan for this year, well I hope I do!  I want to try and expand on last years plans and have more flowers and wildflowers in the garden. I have a plan of growing all the plants in trays to start with as I don’t feel they did very well sowing directly onto the raised bed last year, though I might be proven wrong and end up with no plants at all!  This year I also want to grow sunflowers and rudbeckia again but I might put most of the rudbeckia in pots so they don’t take over the beds which aren’t really wide enough.  I plan to have lots more pots in general so I can distribute more flowers to different areas of the garden patio and overall increase the number of plants for the insects.  Again this is all going to be trial and error and I will be making notes as I go so I can adjust next years plan to be more effective again.  

January 1st – I potted on some of the sweet williams into larger pots as they are growing well. 

January 11th – one of the snowdrops is flowering in the garden 🙂 the rest are still really just emerging.  The one which is in flower wasn’t moved last April so I guess it is more established than the rest.  The first batch of daffodils I planted in pots are starting to show and the Cuckoo pint has just started to come through.  

January 18th – I cut back the leaves of the hellebore as I heard on ‘The Garden Log’ podcast that he had been cutting his back.  I like to listen to it when I’m at work as it brightens up my day 🙂 I also started to prune one of the climbing roses which is on the shed, it still needs a bit more work done to it and also needs to be tied back into the wall, though I need to attach more wire to the wall first.  I hope with the roses having a bit more attention this year they will cover the wall more effectively.  

January 31st – As the weather forecast had predicted snow I decided it would be wise to move all the pots I had in the garden into the glasshouse for a little protection.  I’ve not dealt with snow and plants before so everything that was small enough to be moved was!  I think they all appreciated it! 

Compost Bin – it is slowly starting to look a little like compost at the bottom but I have figured out it isn’t being turned often enough.  Part of the problem is I can put the fork down into the bin, I am just too short to be able to actually turn it!  I always have to ask for help!  It was being turned once a week, it was upped half way through the month to twice a week but I think really it should be being turned each day!  A lot of vegetable peelings are added each week, I’m actually thinking of getting another bin so new matter can be put in a separately bin to allow the current one break down fully.  

I am looking forward to next month as it starts to become lighter and I can start to spend short amounts of time after work in the garden – the lists of tasks to complete is growing daily! 

My Patch – January 2019

I was trying my best to keep my blog posts up to date this year, however, I have already fallen behind!  Work has had some changes that haven’t been for the better, so I have been struggling quite a lot with the day to day and not had any motivation to write anything 🙁 The darkness of the evenings hasn’t helped very much either.  I’ve not been able to have much time off from work, so I have only got to go out briefly on one afternoon.  

January 18th – I had the afternoon off work to have a walk around the patch, however it didn’t really go to plan!  To start with I had to remove the remains of a spruce tree from the field.  The land owners brother, although told not to, decided to dump in the field what he couldn’t fit in the trailer to take to the recycling centre!  I spent about an hour moving everything he had moved, back round to the house and put it in the so called full trailer!  I knew there was quite a bit there but I didn’t expect to have to drag half a tree down the road!  I’m not very big so it must have been quite a sight!   The vegetation underneath the debris I had moved from the field was yellow from the lack of light, at least now I hope it will recover.  A blackbird was thankful I had moved it as he had found insects to eat in the vegetation.  

The remaining time I had left before sunset I was going to be spent looking at the vegetation in the field, but the hunter was seen going down the track so I couldn’t go far.   He’s not allowed to shoot in the field but he can in the field and the copse next to it, so any stray bullets could be disastrous!  I did take a short walk next to the house; the rabbits have been busy digging new burrows of which they will try and kill me with in the summer when they are covered over with nettles and grass!  Its good to know that they are still there after their burrows were disturbed when the ditch was re-dug. 

There is vegetation, but to me it is currently unrecognisable as it is all leaves – I’m not that good at identification yet!  I was hoping to find at least one plant in flower, but no, nothing in the area that I walked.  I did find some lichen on one of the trees, its not something I have looked at yet in the field but is something I should be looking at more this year – it might mean I need another new book! I think this one is yellow wall lichen but I could be wrong! 

The garden birds are still very present, I saw; chaffinch, robin, blue tit, great tit, collard dove, starling, house sparrow and jackdaws this afternoon.

BTO tawny owl survey update: 
January 9th 19:40 no owls heard – none heard all week
January 16th 20:15 no owls heard – none heard all week
January 22nd 19:15 no owls heard – none heard all week
January 31st 19:40 no owls heard – none heard all week
I really hope I hear one again soon!