Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Rabbits in the Rhubarb

Our garden is surrounded on 3 sides by a field. We used to call this "Billy's Field" after the previous owner - a local farmer. Now it's owned by the family that bought the old School House at the top of the road. They're not farming types, so let it out to a guy that uses it during the summer for young expectant-mum cows. They have a lovely time on the lush meadow - long grass, buttercups and other wild flowers and a little stream running down the middle.

It's also home to an increasing number of rabbits. The ground is undulating with a large embankment which used to hold a rail track to service Peggs Green and other mines. So there are lovely banks just perfect for building warrens. We used to have foxes. They'd often come in the garden and sometimes take food put out for the birds (hungry mums with pups to feed probably). But not so many recently. Also the farmer used to shoot rabbits from time to time which kept the numbers down. So bunnies are flourishing.

We're used seeing them hopping about under the apple trees and occasionally around the vegetable beds. We saw tell-tale signs of fur on the twigs I put in to protect the sugar-snap peas I planted. However, they have set up home in the Rhubarb Patch!

We have been gradually reorganising the rhubarb beds to get rid of the choking weeds and have a nice fresh bed into which we have planted the rhubarb which over-wintered in pots. The bunnies have moved into the weedy rhubarb bed, nice and protected with the large umbrella-like leaves.
Here's a picture from last year - so you can see it's ideal bunny-wise!

Home for bunnies
However, they haven't got a paradise. Yesterday morning I found the back half of a small rabbit and various bits of entrails on our back step. Our neighbour's cat, Nip, is a great hunter and often takes pigeons, mice, rats as well as young rabbits - so he's the likely culprit. But it could also have been a buzzard which are plentiful here.


Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Amazing bromeliads

Three years ago a friend bought my Mum an El Cope plant - which is in the Bromeliad family. Never had one before and it was rather unusual and fun. (See picture of that first one here.)

That one started a trend and we've accumulated a few - sitting on window sills around the house. The flowers die off after a few colourful months and new shoots emerge around the side. The new shoots are supposed to flower, but so far ours have remained stubbornly leafy. They obviously work on their own "manana" timeframe, so I'm still hopeful. I'm going to try repotting one and see if that encourages it to flower.

This year, for our anniversary, my hubby bought me a set of 3 bromeliads in cheerful polka-dot pots. These three are a different variety with flattish flower heads rather than a rosette. A couple of days ago one of them delighted us with a bright purple flower emerging from the bright pink head (which we had assumed was the actual flower - but obviously not!) and today two more! See the photo - the one in the middle with the purple "ears".

3 bromeliads - the one in the centre with purple flowers looking like ears.

And not to be outdone - on the same window sill is one of our cacti in full bloom:

Bright pink cactus

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

April Flowers

Typical April weather - starting the month with glorious sunshine, we thought summer was here, and ending with cold north winds, and yesterday a mild frost and snowy hail showers during the day.

It's been a glorious month for blossoms, though, starting with the tail end of snowdrops and daffodils and now the lilacs are starting to show. The apples and cherry trees are still in blossom with the pears, damsons and plums having gone over.

Here are pictures of some of the flowers in our garden during the month:

Daffodils
At the start of April - daffodils in the lawn among the leaves of spent snowdrops.

Snakeshead fritillaries
Snakes-head fritillaries


Grape hyacinths
Bright blue grape hyacinths (muscari)


Variety of spring bulbs
A mixture of bulbs among the herbaceous plants waiting their turn:
tulips, narcissus, hyacinth, leucojums (summer snowdrops)
Magnolia flowers
Magnolia blossoms were magnificent this year, mainly due to no frost when the buds were forming.
Often the frost damages the delicate flowers just when they are ready to open.

Magnolia stellata
Magnolia stellata - small delicate magnolia cousin.
Damson tree in blossom
Damson tree in bloom
Red polyanthus
Bright polyanthus. We also have groups of pale yellow "wild" primsroses all around under the trees.