Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Inspector Spring

What clues does he look for? The mood board begins. Warmer days… tick. Sunny days… tick. Bulbs coming into flower… tick. Birds singing their little hearts out to attract mates… tick. The search for clues continues...


Weeds reappearing under plants, through gravel and in borders… tick. Sunshine replaced by rainfall then followed by sunshine has brought them back to life again.


Mud on leaves suggesting the gardener has been out working in the borders… tick. It seems gardeners can’t always wait for dry sunny days. On closers inspection some tiny blue flowers on the crown of this damp foliage were spotted this very dull, dark day. Brunnera Jack Frost is producing flowers… tick.


The usual suspects spotted… tick. Hellebores hidden under leaves – the gardener should cut the leaves back so the flowers can soak up any sunshine as well as the rain. Primroses showing first buds… evidence suggests this garden is much further behind many parts of England with primroses fully in flower there already. Snowdrops… tick. Drumstick primulas forming flowers deep inside the leaf clump… tick. Mm... even in the darker corners of the garden Spring is creeping quietly in.


No place to hide… out in the open the bulbs growing through grass try very hard on rainy days to display their heavy wet flowers. However on sunny days they smile all day! Evidence suggests that some sheltered spots are a good idea where the flowers may last longer. Crocus in flower… tick. Hyacinth showing flower bud… tick. Ornamental grasses showing new growth… tick. Drumstick alliums showing grass like foliage… tick.


At the moment, passers-by cannot see all that’s going on down in gravel next to the drive way and in pots by the front door. An odd crocus, like Pickwick, in flower… tick. Crocus pushing their thin leaves through the gravel… tick. Allium Purple Sensation through the gravel at the front door… tick. Allium Christophiii growing up and out of the pot… tick. Allium globemaster in the back rockery… tick. Inspector Spring is coming to the conclusion that ‘Yes’ Spring has reached this garden.

Walking back through the garden gate Inspector Spring has buds on his mind. Yep, furry white magnolia buds spotted… tick. Rose branches budding… tick. It is clear that this gardener needs to look after Madame Alfred Carriere better! Help should be requested. Weeping pear buds on branches… tick. Wisteria buds… tick. Mm… Inspector Spring looks more closely at the Wisteria in the larger photo below.


He has concluded that there are fresh cuts! Ah… this gardener was a little late perhaps in the pruning of this Wisteria usually done by the end of February. Yes, it has been pruned as per usual cut to two sets of buds… tick. Mm… perhaps all isn’t lost for any un-pruned wisterias hanging about gardens.

He is reliably informed that a certain Mr T suggests you can still prune a wisteria as late as April. Better late than not at all perhaps. Inspector Spring also noticed evidence missed by Inspector Winter… the gardener should be informed that pruners are required to cut back dead/dying growth to new fresh buds.


Clematis buds spotted… tick. Mm… perhaps this gardener should identify all varieties and follow the correct pruning techniques for their respective groups. Perhaps a colour coded label system would work for future prunings. Polygala flower buds… tick. Pieris blossom buds… tick. Mm… perhaps the later is not a guide as it appears that this Peiris has looked like this for two months already.

Inspector Spring now considers the birds visiting this garden. Ah… some evidence has already been prepared for him...




Blue tit pairs checking out Nestboxes… tick. Two Nestboxes, two roosters. However, further evidence is required to establish if the daytime pair visiting the camera Nestbox is the same as the pair visiting the Arch Nestbox.

Evidence (many feathers on the floor) also suggests that there have been more than a couple of altercations with prospective tenants in the Camera Nestbox. Perhaps Inspector Spring should put up a Notification of Acceptable Rules of Conduct in the Nestboxes. Or perhaps he could consider issuing ASBO’s (Anti-Social Behaviour Orders) at this time of year! Garden birds fighting over territories and nesting locations… tick.

Inspector Spring needed to arrange a meeting with Inspector Winter this morning. He lodged a complaint after, in Scotland, snow had appeared once again in gardens. Ice on the roads made for a tricky drive too. In reality it could be into April before Inspector Spring stops meeting up with Inspector Winter. Now… back to the clues…


Inspector Spring is informed that flocks of finches have increased in this garden. Greenfinches... tick. Goldfinches back… tick. Siskins back… tick. He sees them all but what an odd sight this was above… a goldfinch impersonating a woodpecker! He is reliably informed that neither the woodpecker or the goldfinch have ever been seen feeding from a peanut feeder before.

Fortunately this garden had only the tiniest of dustings of snow. When the sun came out you’d never have known the snow had briefly visited. Inspector Spring felt his visit was complete now and looking at his mood board he could wholeheartedly conclude that he had enough clues to support Spring moving its way into this garden. He wanted to just sit, watch and listen to it for a little while...



If you listen very carefully you will hear the gentle sound of the goldfinch before one arrives at the feeder. You will hear others in the background. Eventually a bossy greenfinch comes along and the goldfinch looses its perch.



Greenfinches are becoming a little bossy at the feeders as you can see. There are four available feeding ports and the blue tit explores two.



Is this a pair of greenfinches at this feeder? It certainly looks like they don’t want any company anyway!


Inspector Winter has not quite left the garden although I do think he is making friends with Inspector Spring now! Okay... so I guess as I am the gardener tending this garden, as such, I better start getting out there more and doing some hands-on rather than 'online' gardening! Oh my, though... this online gardening is such great fun too.

Oh... did I mention I visited another wonderful snowdrop garden last weekend? I think Inspector Spring would approve. Look out for my next posting :-)

All photos above except the goldfinch were taken in shirls garden on March 2nd 2009. The goldfinch photo was taken today March 4th 2009. The Nestbox footage was taken on February 23rd & 25th 2009. The other videos were taken today.

20 comments:

Tricia said...

WOW - that's some post Shirl. Great read as usual :D

easygardener said...

The Greenfinches are certainly hogging the feeder! Though it would take a lot more than them to put off a Blue tit.
I think spring has finally arrived and it is a relief I must say.

Anna said...

Lovely to see the progress of spring in your garden Shirl. Your brunnera is ahead of mine which is only just beginning to show some leaves. It has been in for at least a couple of years and has still to flower:( Looking forward to hearing about your visit to another snowdrop garden - lucky you :)

Midmarsh John said...

An enjoyable read. Beautiful clear video in the Blue Tit nestbox. I would love to know what camera you have in it. The one in my box is supposed to be colour in daylight and even with the 'windows' recommended it never shows colour - very disappointing. Too late to alter things this Spring but I may well change the camera in late Autumn. John

shirl said...

Hi again John. Thank-you, I had fun writing it :-)

Okay, funny you should ask about my camera in this posting as in actual fact it isn’t showing the clearest of images that it can give. I have been mailing Peggy and Lionel about this and it appears I may have probs with condensation on the lens so we will look at this over the weekend. Perhaps you have the same problem yourself? Oh… I can see your images lack colour though. Maybe when daylight levels increase and the sun is shining brightly you’ll get more colour.

You can see details of my camera on this page if you scroll down. Mine came as a complete unit. Hope this helps :-D

shirl said...

Hi again Tricia, Denise and Anna :-)

Tricia –Thank-you, it took some time but I did have fun with it :-D

Denise – You’re telling me! To be honest it wasn’t until I caught them on film that I realised this either! Yeh… you are right the Blue tits are persistent little things aren’t they. Yep… it really does look like Spring is getting here at last :-D

Anna – Thank-you, I have say that my Brunnera was a surprise to me! There were a lot of black, wet, dead leaves around it and it wasn’t until I pulled them away that I spotted the tiny flowers. I thought I was seeing things! I bought my plants two years ago too and they have flowered twice a year. I hope yours flowers for you this year. I actually bought mine for its wonderful leaves ;-) Oh… I’ll have to start sorting my snowdrop visit pics soon. No statues this time… we have… oh… I’ll not spoil it for you ;-) Hope to get it posted by the weekend but we’ve a teenage birthday then too so time might be tight :-o

ShySongbird said...

Hi Shirl,

A lovely post as usual and very amusingly written. How wonderful to see the garden returning to life, so much of interest to follow at this time of year.

I'm afraid I never can remember which Clematis should be pruned when, so they often get left to their own devices, which is probably why one, whilst looking beautiful, managed to strangle to death a lovely miniature Willow. Only myself to blame of course, I should have been paying more attention!

How lovely that you have Siskins again. I had never seen any until two or three visited during bad weather about this time last year, they only stayed for a few days and so far have not reappeared this year.

I am already looking forward to your next Snowdrop post.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Your garden is really looking spring-like Shirl. The birds here are singing in full chorus already. Not all day but off and on during the day. It is exciting. I can't wait to see your photos of the snowdrop tour.

gardenerprogress/Catherine said...

Everything looks so nice! And you helped me to identify a plant that I lost a tag for, drumstick primula. Enjoyed all of your photos!

Midmarsh John said...

Thanks for the information about the camera Shirl. Yours is a different make so I will definitely be looking to change the camera in the late Autumn. Also I will be popping back to see how your Blue Tits are getting on. John

Jan (Thanks For 2 Day) said...

Your signs of spring are definitely showing! You've got lots popping up already! Not much here, as we now have an 'unexpected' snow still lying on the ground:( Inspector spring needs to get over here across the pond and kick Inspector winter out, ok? I just love looking at the differences between your goldfinches and ours. I love their red faces. Thanks for sharing your nest boxes and sounds of the birds...I just love them. Keep 'em coming!

Liz said...

Lovely story Shirl, very nicely done!

It's nice to see everyone is getting a touch of spring now - even if it has suddenly become freezing again!

urbanextension said...

Well, Inspector Winter yesterday charged full-force into my garden covering it with 4 inches of snow, brought trees down and caused complete havoc on the roads. You'd think a man of the law would be a bit more respectful wouldn't you! Much prefer Inspector Spring and he certainly looks like he's doing a fine job in your garden! J

Mytutorlist.com said...

I just came across your blog today and I love it! The videos are great (like sitting on a porch bird-watching) and I love the colours of your blog. So pretty!

Joe said...

Hi Shirl,

Great post. I love your spring garden plant shots. Interesting to see your Blue Tit camera nestbox video too. Looks like you are a couple of weeks behind us in the nesting schedule. Looks like your feeders are busy. I hust filled ours up again, and put some more mealworms out. Hopefully the Blue Tits will get used to them being there before they nest.

The Early Birder said...

Hi Shirl. Great post which mirrored my own day in the garden today except Brunnera leaves only just showing, but lots of various bulbs forcing their way out of the ground & pots. Muscari in one pot could be in flower very soon. Plenty of bird activity but no indication that anyone is inspecting our boxes yet.
Thanks for the FAB garden tour. Cheers Frank.

Miranda Bell said...

Great to read of all that's going on in your garden - so many things now coming into bud as you say - just hope we don't get a spate of late winter cold weather - like last year when we lost nearly all our lilac flowers and other things too! It's been a busy weekend - have been clearing endless brambles and enjoying the fact that we now have a total of 7 siskins visiting the garden - we started with our 1st ever this year and more just seem to have arrived!! Have a good week Miranda

Barbara said...

So interesting to see what's going on in your garden and to detect, that there isn't a great difference between a Scottish and a Swiss garden at this time of the year. The first Spring signs here and there (here sometimes mixed with a few snow flakes though!). But we are all heading to Spring!!

A wildlife gardener said...

I know that March 20th is the first offical day of Spring this year, Shirl, but you have certainly got your fair share of Spring goodies in your garden already :)

Not one, but several, wonderful videos to see in this post too. I feel positively spoiled :)

I am not familiar with the goldfinch's song so that was a real bonus :)

I am still very occupied looking after my hubbie's 83 year-old Mum...but your posts are a tonic and a delight to catch up with :)

shirl said...

Hi again everyone and apologies for taking so long to reply. I’ve not been at the PC or blogging recently due to a family illness :-)

ShySongbird – Thank-you, I had a bit of fun with this. I try not to be too predictable in my postings ;-) I agree it is great to see the garden plants come to life again. Yep… I know what you mean about the clematis. It’s easy done – forgetting that is ;-) Yes, it is great to see the siskins again hope you get to see them this year too. Oh… my next snowdrop posting is a cracker (I think so anyway) hope you enjoy it :-D

Lisa – Yep… it is getting there! Ah yes… the birds are still singing their little hearts out. I agree the garden is exciting at this time. I am watching for the blackbirds collecting nesting material next! Oh… I am so looking forward to posting the next snowdrop tour :-D

Catherine – Thank-you! Oh… thrilled I helped you with an ID :-D Garden blogs with their photos help with all sorts of ID’s don’t they? Glad you enjoyed my pics as I enjoy taking and presenting them all. Wait ‘till you see my next snowdrop posting :-D

John – You are most welcome. Ah… I hope I can share a Nestbox story again this year. We will just have to wait and see if it is used again. We are usually two weeks behind your area of the country. Best wishes for a successful brood in your Nestbox :-D

Jan – They are aren’t they? LOL… hope you are getting some Spring now. Oh… and wishing you a belated Happy Birthday. That’s a nice selection of books you picked! Yes, the differences in our visiting birds are a treat to see. I enjoy yours too. Ah… I hope we can have a good Nestbox story for 2009. Now… the birds just need to pop over more during the day now! Oh yes… I will keep you posted :-D

Liz – Thank-you, a break from the norm is good once and a while isn’t it? Yep… Spring does come in stops and starts here in the UK doesn’t it :-D

Jane – Oh my… yes I did think of you when I saw the weather reports at that time! I couldn’t agree more ;-) Yes, Inspector Spring is much more in demand isn’t he? Hope he has been visiting you now too :-D

Mytutor – Welcome! I am delighted you have been enjoying my bird videos. My blog evolved through them. Thank-you, I’m also delighted to hear you like my colours :-D

Joe – Thanks, it’s great to do update on what’s currently going on isn’t it? Yes, we are two weeks behind both nesting and plants. Yep… the feeders were busy but at the moment my emergency filling of a more general seed mix and peanuts (couldn’t get out to get sunflower hearts) isn’t going down to well at all. I have more now so I’ll refill and redistribute the food around later today. Yes, good idea about the mealworms I have tried the same but the blue tits just don’t take them! However, the robins are! Perhaps we will see them bring their young in when the time comes. That would be a treat to see :-D

Frank – I love to hear of other gardeners in the garden at the same time! Most surprised to hear my Brunnera is ahead of you as we are usually two weeks behind. Ah… the blues of muscari are great to see at this time of year. I love blue in the garden. Ah… I’d guess birds may be inspecting your nestboxes by now. I tend to spot them around 9.30-10.30am where they will clean out some of the droppings left by roosting. Too early for nest building here. Delighted you enjoyed the tour – I’ve another snowdrop one ready to post very soon :-D

Miranda – Thank-you, yes there is isn’t there? Yes, fingers crossed for any weather kick backs! Sounds like you’ve been busy! Congatulations… I can imagine you must be absolutely thrilled with so many siskins now – word has got around about your table of food I’m guessing! Thank-you, it was a difficult week but we are heading to a new one now. Hope you’ve enjoyed your weekend and wishing you a good week to come :-D

Barbara – Yes, it is interesting isn’t it? I’ve noticed that with Yolanda in the Netherlands too. She seems to get higher temps earlier than us and you, in Switzerland, seem to get it way colder than us. Great to hear Inspector Spring is making his way to your garden now too! See you soon :-D

Wildlife Gardener –Oh… just five days to go then? Great stuff! Yes, it does appear that the garden has the idea of the season now. Ah… funnily enough I’ve not posted any bird videos in a little while now and I always think of you when I do. Hey… abracadabra and here you are! I’m delighted you find them a tonic. I can imagine how your time must be spent looking after your hubbie’s Mum. We’ve had our daughter home from Uni, ill again, and it has been a difficult time. I’ve been nowhere near blogging or the PC, my head has been all over the place and my energy levels dropping with each day. She is away again but only for a brief while. It is clear now that her first year will have to be repeated. She has lost too much time from class now. It is going to be another difficult week for her and we can only be here to support her. My thoughts really do go to you and all that you must be going through at the moment. If you can, try to take time out to just sit and watch all that must be going on (like the frogs) in your garden at the moment. Best wishes to you all :-D