Tuesday 20 May 2014


The weekend was sunny and hot (22C) with clear blue skies. Summer's here! On Sunday I was greeted with an amazing cacophony at the top of the garden. There are usually pigeons and blackbirds nesting in the holly trees but this was much more. I got the binoculars out and confirmed my first reaction - this was a whole nursery of starlings!

I love starlings. They are so much fun making elaborate and inventive song with clicks and squeaks and mimmicking car alarms and mobile phones. They are noisy and squabble a lot, but they always seem to be having fun. They are so beautiful with all colours shimmering through their mainly black and grey spotted plumage.

I watched and listened to the activity in the trees. Adult birds swooped in with beaks full of worms, their arrival causing the decibel level to rise sharply. More adventurous youngsters had left the nest and balanced precariously on outer branches. With their fluffy baby plumage they looked twice the size of their harrassed parents.

In the afternoon I was startled as the whole flock rose from the trees and swirled about the sky. They were joined by others from the spreading oak tree in Billy's field and created an acrobatic display for a few minutes - a flying lesson for the babies I suppose.

We haven't seen many starlings for a few years here so I'm really pleased to see this colony doing well and looking forward to some of those clicky, babbly, songs again.

First potatoes from pots

We had the first potatoes from the big pots we planted in the big conservatory back in early February. Just one pound of beautiful Sante potatoes - but enough for a meal (and a couple of little ones for our neighbour who had just popped round). The taste certainly reminds us of why we bother with all that digging rather than buying the tasteless rubbish from the supermarkets.

Wednesday 14 May 2014

Flowers in the rain

After the warm and sunny Spring we've had a couple of weeks of rainy and windy weather. This has resulted in grass and flowers springing up like crazy. The frequency and ferocity of the rain showers has meant there have been days when we've had to abandon gardening and stay indoors.

However, last week our friend Reny braved the weather and roamed the garden taking photos. She managed to capture some beautiful images of glistening raindrops transforming flowers and leaves into something magical.

Apple blossom

Orange poppy

Delicate aquilegia buds bejeweled with raindrops

Little yellow poppy weighed down with raindrops

Hosta leaves

White bluebells

Planting out

Time to plant out some of the seedlings started off in the conservatory and greenhouse. 

71 beetroot seedlings raised in modules just fitted in the raised bed over by the raspberries. We dug this bed in the grassy area (not a lawn!) three years ago when we just ran out of space for everything. It's about 10ft x 3ft edged with logs from when the big old cherry tree was trimmed back. Last year we didn't use it so it was full of wild flowers, raspberries and weeds - actually quite pretty and the raspberries productive. This year Paul dug it over and I carted in a couple of barrows from the compost tip and added a few handfuls of organic chicken pellets. It looked like squirrels, rabbits or maybe cats had been digging holes in the soil so after planting out the little beetroots I put a load of twigs in and around to deter any intruders. Seems to have worked so far.

I also planted out some Tom Thumb lettuce seedlings in the "leek bed" by the greenhouse. I covered these with a make-shift cloche of wire frames and polythene, mainly to protect them from falling blossom and leaves and mud splash-back when it rains. this keeps the lettuces much cleaner and easier to prepare for eating.

Thursday 8 May 2014

Late Spring Flowers

Spring was early this year and came as a crescendo of colour and perfumes as the spring bulbs and blossoms just kept blooming. Here are a few photos taken on a wander around the garden during the last few days of April:

Overblown red and yellow tulips

Apple blossom - small red apple tree

Aquilegias come in all colours and shapes

White and blue "blue-bells" (we have pink ones too), grape hyacinths, yellow allysum and some red tulips

and not forgetting the vegetable plot - broad beans sown in the grown coming through nicely