Sunday, 5 April 2009

Wakey wakey, rise and shine

Hey presto… a few glorious days of warm sunshine at this time of year and the sleepy garden of the past few months is no more. Happy smiling faces all around. Mm… but the one below is actually a gate crasher to the party of bulbs dancing in my lawn! Now the big question is – should it stay or should it go?




Firstly, this is just my second year of warming to the tulip after many years without it so it is still on the ‘new friends’ list. The area of lawn below was planted with crocus (a little late) in January. I thought the larger bulbs were giant crocuses but clearly I was in for a surprise! I would never have deliberately planted tulips in my lawn and it is unlikely that I deliberately bought this type either. At first I was in no doubt it that they should be relocated but when the sun comes out and they open up like sunshine stars they do make me smile. Decisions, decisions…



Quick decisions are being made at the bird feeders at the moment too. They are getting very busy especially with increasing numbers of finches to the garden. Goldfinches especially are having to choose carefully which ones they go to between the bossy blue tits chasing them off and fights between themselves, the Siskins and the Greenfinches. Sometimes they will assess the situation from the sunny vantage point of a neighbour’s tree.



Many thanks for all the kind Birthday wishes in my last posting. I did have a lovely few days. I also got a rather special parcel that will hopefully let you see more of my garden and others that I visit. It is great to see close-up images but I am hoping that my new 'birthday' wide angle camera lens will also let you see the planting combinations too. This is something that I am always drawn to in other gardens and something that I continually play around with in my own.



At the moment, one image I wake up to when opening curtains is the wonderful colours and shapes of the Drumstick Primulas growing above my pond. I love to see them in their earlier stages as the clusters of flowers open in their rows, lighter in colour at the start deepening as they are complete. I also love the warmth of the evening sunshine on them too which you can see in the photos below. They have put on a lot of growth in the last few days.



Let’s step back to have a look at the plants growing around the Drumstick Primulas. The second image below will hopefully make it easier to list these plants. Please do tell me what you think – maybe I’m getting too arty here!

1. Perris, 2. Magnolia, 3. 'Snake’s Head' Fritillaries, 4. Drumstick Primulas, 5. 'Tete a tete' Daffodils, 6. Carex 'Fisher’s Form', 7. Heuchera 'Stormy Seas'


Let’s step back a little more and look at this same area from inside, through my window, where you’ll get a better idea of scale. My pond really is tiny but small as it is it does attract wildlife. I would definitely recommend adding water if you want to encourage wildlife to visit your garden. Even, on the ground, a shallow tray with pebbles would provide water for hedgehogs to drink, frogs to rest a while and birds to drink and bathe in – mine is nestled among plants and is very popular.



Another way, I have found, to attract more birds and wildlife to the garden is to provide a variety of foods. No… raspberries are not usually on the menu in my garden but I had a few left over so I decided to see if they got any takers. I enjoy putting new foods and feeders out and observing how the birds deal with them.


The Blackbirds visiting this ground feeder tossed the rasps, up in the air out of the way, to feed on the sunflower hearts. Mm… I did think they might have tasted them. However, I am delighted to report that the most likely suspect for these berries did eat them – the Song Thrush. We are very lucky to have one regularly visiting at the moment and after an unfortunate case of ‘curiosity trapped the Song Thrush’ I try to keep a regular morning supply of dried mixed fruit/sultanas around the feeder above next to my pond.




The video above shows the Song Thrush after it entered Hedgehog Manor. It stayed just a little bit too long and couldn’t find its way out again. It began to get stressed so I had to pop out and ‘pop out’ the front Perspex front to set it free.

Since then, one evening when garden watching with my night camera, I spotted a cat looking down the tunnel which was put in for the safety of any hedgehogs. I opened my window and the cat ran off. I then saw movement inside the Manor that I was not expecting. No stress this time. A Blackbird was quietly sitting at the back of the tunnel – what was his idea? I didn’t expect it was stuck as I’ve seen them go in and out without any bother. Once again, I removed the front and set the bird free. This is the first Spring for this set up so seeing as curiosity is getting the better of the birds I must plan for another redesign of the layout to accommodate a variety of guests!


How about Nestbox guests and activity? Well, I’d take a guess that soon moss should start going into Nestboxes in my area. It’s a case of ‘wakey, wakey rise and shine’ if you want to see if any activity is happening with yours. In the far South of England I’d expect that nests could even be complete by now. Don’t’ worry if you see moss being taken out of your Nestbox as it is very likely the female building the nest is just being fussy! We have seen a lot of this activity and nest building really does look like such hard work – and that’s once they have laid claim to the box!

What about ours? Well, as last year, I am seeing more activity at our Arch Nestbox without a camera but… we have a rooster in our Camera one. However, also as last year, we have a bit of trouble between the blue tits considering using our Nestboxes . Yesterday, I saw one of many chase-offs around the garden and at the Arch Nestbox itself with the birds going in and out trying to lay claim. This wasn’t activity from a pair not getting on!



Today, is a lovely sunny morning so I’d like to get up to the Camera Nestbox, open it up and clean the floor of rooster droppings and feathers from any previous disputes inside. This isn’t probably necessary but I have a camera and can see that nest building hasn’t started yet. I’d like to refresh the camera nestbox floor to encourage one of the two birds fighting for ownership of the Arch Nestbox to see this one as an alternative before their fighting drives them both elsewhere. Oh… of course perhaps the bird roosting in our camera is a third female!

Hopefully, it will be dry tonight and I can put a camera out focused on the Arch box entrance to see if we have a rooster going in there too at the moment. Perhaps we have one determined bird roosting in the camera one and planning to build in the Arch one. Yep… the drama of the Nestboxes in my garden starts for its third year! We’re at the wait and see stage and we’ll just have to be patient. Here’s hoping you will be seeing signs of nesting activity in your garden. Do drop a comment here to tell everyone what’s happening with your Nestboxes.


Finally, I would like to say I am always thrilled to see my native primroses (grown from seed a few years ago) flowering around the mossy rocks beside the ground feeder in the photo above. Blackbirds and Starlings forage with great gusto when the feeder gets low and the new growth of the primroses gets pulled in the process. Initially I lifted and divided my young primrose plants to spread them around the garden and now these plants seed themselves around - just the right amount. I just adore these primroses – another plant that always makes me smile.

What activity has being going on in your garden this weekend? What is making you smile?

The photos and video above were taken in my garden this past week.

21 comments:

ShySongbird said...

Lovely interesting post again Shirl, I think your Tulip looks very bold and beautiful and has rather a haughty air standing among the other bulbs.
The Drumsticks look lovely. I seem to be reduced to just one this year, not sure where the others went but I must rectify that!
I would so love a pond, no matter how small but worry it would get too full of leaves. I really will have to think of a way, I remember as a child sinking an old washing up bowl into the garden and even that attracted some frogs I recall.
So glad you managed to rescue the unexpected visitors to Hedgehog Manor and loved the video.

Carol said...

My species tulips are making me smile right now, along with any day that doesn't start with sub freezing temperatures. There is a lot going on in your garden, and one does wonder how that tulip ended up in the lawn!

Midmarsh John said...

Lovely to see round part of your garden. I like the well weathered stones round the pond - looks very natural.

Nesting here is in fits and starts. Lots of activity one day and then one or two days rest but the amount of moss is slowly increasing.

The other day I grated a left over piece of Red Leicester. That really went down well with the birds.

Would extending the tunnel a bit to hedgehog manor help so that the entrance doesn't seem related to the food birds can see through the Perspex?

Lisa at Greenbow said...

That tulip must have been one small bulb if it got planted with crocus in the lawn. It is pretty if more boldly colored than you normally like.

The spring garden is in full grow mode here. Seeing the hostas pop out of the ground and the narcissus blooming is such fun. Spring is fun.

Liz said...

Lovely photos Shirl, I do love looking at other people's gardens :)

No pond here, although I do plan on a small one and yours looks just perfect!

We've done some weeding today and taken photos of the spring plants. I've been in and out all day enjoying the sun!

Northern Shade said...

I had to smile at the tulip that sneaked its way into your lawn. It does set off the little purple crocus, but will be a challenge when it comes time to mow your lawn, since the foliage lasts so long.

I love the edge of your pond, with moss covered rocks and spring plants. The photo from inside your window really shows how pretty they look there.

The Helleborus foliage emerging from under the snow is making me smile this week in my garden.

Cheryl said...

Hi Shirl.....Tulips are not my most favourite plant, I have only just started to buy them myself. I must say I think yours looks lovely amongst the other bulbs...now making me think that is what I should have done.......

Poor songthrush....glad you managed to get her out of hedgehog manor safely......

A full and interesting post.......

Karen - An Artist's Garden said...

Love the tulip - she looks like a bride, with the crocus as little bridesmaids :)
Hasn't it been just glorious these past few days!
Great post Shirl
K

easygardener said...

Lovely post Shirl. Do you think a squirrel could have brought over the tulip from a neighbour? I think it looks good - quite informal which is the look I favour with tulips. They can look very rigid and uptight!
You'll have to set up some "Way Out signs" in your hedgehog box :-)

Juliet said...

Hi Shirl, I've just been catching up with your blog - I haven't had time to visit many blogs for a while.

I've really enjoyed watching your videos, especially the little clip of the bluetit squeezing itself out from the caged feeder!

A belated happy birthday - hope you had a good day :-D

Juliet said...

PS Meant to say - we had redwings in our garden for the first time this winter - at one point there were three of them foraging in the snow and they stayed for quite a while. Not on birdwatch day though - of course!

Joe said...

Hi Shirl, great posting :-)

Loving your garden plants at the moment. I like the Tulip, we have one growing in our front garden at the moment too, as well as a lone Daffodil. The Song Thrush video was interesting. Our thrush seems to have left the garden for now. Maybe it has a nest elsewhere. Our Blue Tits are frantically filling our non-camera nestbox with material at the moment- the nest must be pretty much finished now!

Elsewhere in our garden, chaffinches are feeding in small groups. The males are in their breeding plumage now. One of them was such a bright pink that I nearly thought it was a Bullfinch!

Have a good easter!

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

Snap! I had a blackbird that I had to set free too earlier this week. It had flown into my greenhouse and couldn't find the way out. I was elsewhere in the garden but Jeeves brought it to my attention. So considerate of him, don't you think? ;-) He probably thought I should catch it so that he could have a snack. No way!

I'm very very, busy in my garden as I'm doing a bit of renovating. Things are looking good but it is a lot of hard work.

My new border makes me smile everytime I clap my eyes on it. Why? Because it's celebrating its first spring and in such a wonderful way. I never thought it could look this good so quickly. And, it has lots of primulas in it, and guess who that reminds me of? ;-)

BTW love the little tulips, I have quite a few botanical tulips in my garden too.

Rob (ourfrenchgarden) said...

Hi shirl

What a comprehensive post. I loved the video of the song Thrush. Sad that they seem to be declining in numbers

I look forward to pictures through your new lens.

All the best
Rob

Jan (Thanks For 2 Day) said...

As for the tulips and from the photo it looks like crocus' and others, are out in the grass...I think I'd just extend the garden to accomodate them! More garden, less grass--alway the way to go!!

I enjoy your talks of the goings-on re: the birds in your garden. So glad you have a nest-box; it gives a neat perspective of how the birds operate and it's exciting to see baby birds!

Have a lovely day Shirl!

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Blossom said...

First time here. I like your small pond. It's beautiful. I'd like to have one like it in my garden.

Layanee said...

First, happy belated birthday! The birds are more active in the garden and what is better than their spring songs? I have unplugged the bird bath heater and set out some wool for nesting.

shirl said...

Hi again ShySongbird, Carol, John, Lisa and Liz :-)ShySongbird – Thank-you, LOL, yes I know what you mean. It looks like its partied too hard now ;-) Ah… these Drumsticks are getting better each year and the bees seem to take an interest in them too. Well yes, ponds do collect leaves but it’s not too bad to do a spot of fishin’ every now and again. Mine is small but the surface doesn’t reflect what there is below. Mine is a ‘bog’ standard (sorry couldn’t resist the pun) plastic moulded liner but I have built more of a rock pool with it. There are caves both below and above. Now, last year we spotted at least one frog visiting but I wonder if it will return. I built the caves for wildlife but I didn’t expect its latest guests… Yes, a revamp is on the cards for hedgehog manor. We may even may need to claim this hutch back yet :-o

Carol – Ah yes… I saw your postings. Yep… I am guess the temp has heated up somewhat in your garden now. Yep… it is ever changing and getting new visitors too but that’s the fun part isn’t it ;-D Now, the tulip got in the lawn because I planted it there – however the bigger question is how did it get in the wrong bag? Enjoy your tulips :-D

John – Glad you enjoyed the small tour. Yes, I love this pond area too and we have some new residents now! I’ll post on them soon. Great to see you’ve some nesting activity. I think for the first time in three years we won’t have any nestbox activity. We still have a Blue tit rooster in the Camera box but I do believe the fighting for ownership in both our nestboxes has sent the pairs off to look elsewhere. I am seeing a pair of Great tits regularly visiting the feeders at the moment. In previous years the blue tits would be chasing them off when they were about to and during nest building. That alone tells me no Blue tits nesting in my garden this year. Ah yes, I’ve found the blackbirds love cheese but so do the starlings! Yes, it is the tunnel that has caused the problem in the manor. I should go back to my original design and look at it again :-)

Lisa – Well, interestingly enough there were some bigger bulbs but as one variety of crocus was named giant I thought the bulbs were bigger too ;-) That’s the problem with mixing the bag up for planting a natural drift. The scatter can reveal more than you expect! Ah… sounds like here too… yes, Spring is a fun season :-D

Liz – Thank-you, me too :-) Yes, as I said above mine is a kidney shaped plastic moulded one and I choose to make it more a rock pool and there are lots of rocks under the water with caves for any visitors. I built up the back wall on these rocks with many more caves there too. We now have some new residents. I wonder if you can guess who? Ah… the weeding I must get to that too. Perhaps before I take my photos for GBBD! Yes… your plant photos are brilliant. It’s cooler here today but it has been a glorious few days – hope you’ve had the same :-D

shirl said...

Hi again Northern Shade, Cheryl, Karen, Denise, Juliet and Joe :-)Northern Shade – LOL, yes it has made me smile too but the tulip foliage will have to get used to the haircut treatment. I will keep this area wild looking a while yet though. Thank-you, I do enjoy this pond area all year long. I love the primulas now, then the alliums and the meconopsis and there is also the wildlife to watch too! Ah… great to hear you’ve got hellebores coming up now. Gosh… I see you can have a snow covered garden for five months of the year. I’m not surprised you look forward to Spring flowers. Enjoy them :-D

Cheryl – Thank-you. Yes, me too, it’s funny that I’ve heard many say that recently. Ah... it hasn’t deterred the Song Thrush from coming in to my garden at all. I’ve just seen two outside my window :-D

Karen – LOL, the artist’s eye I see! Yes, it has been glorious - so nice to be outside. Mm… I should perhaps have done some weeding :-)

Denise – Thank-you, no the tulip bulbs were all my doing. I just don’t know how they got in the bag! Yes, I was striving for the informal look. I have others in borders around shrubs too. I am a new fan of tulips but still the jury is out on the lawn ones. LOL… maybe I’ll just do that! It would make for a fun video :-D

Juliet – No worries, I know how it is. I am posting less frequently at the moment and struggling visiting blogs myself. Great to see you. Yes, I love doing the videos. Thank-you, I had a great few days ;-) Wow… they say that this has happened in gardens this year. For the first time we saw a Mistle thrush and a group of Fieldfares foraging in the snow here. LOL… no ours didn’t appear then either :-D

Joe – Thank-you, the garden is coming alive at the moment with the plants. Ah… sorry to hear your not seeing Song Thrushes or activity in the first year of your Camera Nestbox. We are seeing a couple of Song Thrushes regularly visiting now but it looks like we won’t see any Blue tit nesting in either boxes this year. Too much fighting I suspect. We still have rooster in the camera box but as we have a pair of Great tits as regulars at the feeders I am pretty confident that Blue tits are not planning to nest in my garden this year. They always chase away the Great tits when they do. Best wishes for your non camera box. Great to see you are still seeing a wide variety of birds visiting your garden. LOL… I can imagine your excitement at the thought of a Bullfinch! Thank-you, we have had a few glorious days – hope you did too :-D

shirl said...

Hi again Yolanda, Rob, Jan, Blossom and Layanee :-)Yolanda – Ah yes… I’ve had birds stuck in my tiny greenhouse too. Guess there are some tasting pickings in there ;-) Oh… yes… a most considerate chap Jeeves is! Great to hear you are really enjoying your new border now. Excellent… I am looking forward to seeing all your primulas in bloom. Mine are coming up now too – they too will make me smile when they come into flower. I must pop over and see what you’ve been up too. I’m about to move Mdm Alfred Carrier this morning. I also always think of you with that plant. It’s been in a year and hasn’t flowered so I’ll see if a different location will help – yours always looks stunning :-D

Rob – Thank-you, I do tend to cram a lot in sometimes. Maybe I should consider little and often. Yes, it is sad about the Song Thrushes that’s why I have been delighted to see two visiting. I am wondering if it’s a pair and they may nest nearby or at least bring their young in to show them a food source. Thanks, I’m still trying to get the hang of the new lens. Got some landscape shots around my area to come after my GBBD posting. Enjoy your weekend :-D

Jan – Yep… I planted them in the grass as I have found this, so far, has been a safeguard against me digging them up by accident. I do like a little grass to give a balance of an open green space too. Glad you enjoy my garden chat – I know I ramble a bit. Yep… not sure we will get anything out of our nestbox with camera this year. All quiet there – apart from a rooster every night and lots of feathers on the floor. Thinking about it now, perhaps we lost one of the possible nestbox birds at the weekend. No sign of a body but lots and lots of feathers that may have come from a Blue tit after seeing the ones in the nestbox. Hate to see that. Don’t know if a cat or Sparrowhawk was responsible. I would love to share some images of the baby birds. About to make some changes to my links so you can see other sites with nestboxes easier. Thank-you, have a lovely weekend :-D

Blossom – Welcome, yes it is amazing how much wildlife interest you can get with such a small amount of water and a collection of rocks. Thank-you, I’d definitely recommend one :-D

Layanee – Thank-you, sorry I’ve a belated email due to you. You’re right there, the garden isn’t a quiet place at the moment. So many different songs too, it is lovely. Ah… the change of season swap-over – great! Your birds were very lucky to have had a regular supply of water through the cold icy days. I do love that idea. Ah yes… I should get some nesting material out too. A Jackdaw has been by today looking in the area I usually put up my nesting material basket. Have a good weekend. I’ll mail you soon :-D