Monday 30 January 2017

Gardens and well-being survey

The Royal Horticultural Society and University of Sheffield are investigating the social case for gardens and what impact they have on health and well-being.  The BBC report the project here >>

They are seeking both dedicated gardeners like me and non-gardeners to complete a survey about where they live, how they feel about life, how anxious they are and what access they have to a garden. Of course I, and most gardeners I expect, find being out there with the birds and bees and worms and mud is just heaven and the more time out in the garden the better. If not the garden then pottering in the conservatory, sowing parsley in pots for the window-sill, taking cuttings or just sitting and watching everything doing its thing. Seems obvious that gardening makes one's life better and calmer.

I find being in the middle of a town or city where they've "paved paradise" is unnerving and sometimes a little bit frightening. I pity kids growing up with no access to nature other than on a computer screen, kids that don't know where milk come from, that strawberries and asparagus are not normally available in England during December, that worms and a bit of mud are not bad things to be avoided. It would be great if every street and every school could have a garden area where people can grow their own flowers & veg. This is the best science lesson ever - learning how things grow from tiny seeds, what plants and animals need to thrive. And it's the best therapy too - watching a bean climbing around a bamboo frame, watching bees pollinate a flower and spiders spinning their webs makes you forget your troubles for a while and harvesting your first beans or row of lettuces that taste SO good gives a real sense of achievement (and anyone can do it - you don't have to have A* grades!).

If RHS & Sheffield Uni can produce a report backed with some survey results that encourages councils and schools to create more public garden spaces in urban areas that's got to be good.

The survey "Do gardens influence health and well-being?" is here >>     - it just takes 15 mins so have a go.

Sunday 29 January 2017

Winter pottering

The cold spell has finished and we've now got soggy grey rain which is forecast to continue all week.

Yesterday, after the frozen morning and before the rain started we had a couple of hours of sunshine, tidying up - mostly cutting back and pulling up soggy masses of leaves. I collected some lovely soil from the mole hills and used some of it 50/50 with compost from our heap to pot on 7 sage cuttings. Not much else to be doing at the moment. The next job will be to sort out seeds and make a shopping list for what we need to plant this year.

Thursday 26 January 2017

Cold and grey

The temperature didn't get above zero today. After quite a mild December and early January when we had just one day of snow this week has been pretty chilly - proper winter. This morning no frost despite the cold. We haven't had any rain for about a fortnight, so too dry I suppose.

There hasn't been much activity in the garden. Stormy weather at the start of the month flattened the cage protecting the brussel sprouts. I was worried the pigeons and pheasants would strip the unprotected plants but so far they've kept away. We're having a good feed of sprouts at least once a week.

Snowdrops are just poking up through the grass. One or two helebores are flowering. But generally things are taking their time. Last January daffodils were out up at the crossroads in Coleorton and we were pulling rhubarb. This year the rhubarb is just starting to shoot, although a couple of plants we transferred into big tubs are further ahead. I dragged them into the greenhouse to protect them from the frost.

Plenty of wild life activity. Moles are very active in the fields all around and along the grass verges by the roads. They are also busy around our bonfire and have come down the garden as far as the kitchen window. Birds visiting the feeding area include a pair of pheasants, large family of magpies, crows, wood-pigeons, great-tits, sparrows, robins, blackbirds. And a couple of squirrels. The bird table is slowly falling apart. We don't put much food out - just scraps and in the cold weather a scoop of peanuts and seeds. When we filled all the feeders most of the food was taken by squirrels and wood-pigeons and sometimes rats. There's plenty of berries and seeds in the garden and surrounding hedgerows and woods so I don't think they will go hungry. It's nice to see the birds feeding, but the bird-feeders are more for our enjoyment I suspect.

I peeped under the tarpaulin we had left lying over part of the rhubarb patch we are reorganising and found a spherical nest beautifully crafted from dried grass with a small entrance hole. I think it's a field-mouse nest.