Thursday, 29 April 2010

Cambo, Spring visits and Tulip talk

For all Tulip lovers within travelling distance from Cambo Gardens (near St Andrews, Scotland) you might be very interested to know that author of ‘The Tulip’, Anna Pavord is giving a talk on the Tulip tomorrow night (April 30th). Sorry, I meant to post this sooner. I’m popping along myself and I do believe there are a few tickets left. I’m really looking forward to it.

Tulip in my Garden, May 2008.

Anna’s talk is supporting a Tulip festival at the garden which begins today and runs over the long weekend. Back on a visit to the garden to see Snowdrop displays on March 2nd I discovered that the Potager area had been planted with thousands of Tulip bulbs. Although I’ve not been a huge fan of this bulb I have warmed to it over the last couple of years and it has my interest now.

Cambo Potager, March 2nd 2010.
(Clicking on photos will enlarge them.)

Bare soil, a few grasses and a number of labels replaced the stunning Naturalistic Potager on display during my visit last September. The photo montage above was ready to introduce this event and with others would tell the story of our visit. I’m guessing another story came along shortly after this and it didn't get past the cutting room floor.

Earlier this week, I made a return visit to see this tulip display. I was very much looking forward to seeing how it would look now. I had guessed that perhaps with our very cold winter that the blooms might be slower to open this year.

On my visit I found a few were still to open but the vibrant colour in this area could be seen from almost every aspect in the walled garden. A very cheery sight indeed! However, I have to admit to being a big fan of the green and very dark plum coloured varieties.

Cambo Potager and walled garden, April 27th 2010.

It’s always amazing to see how a garden can change in just a few days of warm sunshine. I wonder what this area looks like now. I’m guessing even more colour!

On this visit, gardeners were working all around the garden. Mowing, planting, pruning and other seasonal jobs were in action. I loved seeing the baskets of plants ready for planting.

However, as often the case with me, it wasn’t the tulips that I went to see that made my visit. It was the birdsong, the bees, the butterflies and the delicate colours and blooms of Spring too.

Cambo views in and outside walled garden, April 27th.

I took my video camera with me on this visit and it was the essence of my visit I decided to capture with the tulips in the background rather than the main event that they are at present.

Below you’ll hear a variety of garden sounds, see the views that caught my eye and a panoramic of the new Prairie and winter garden which is one to follow for the next few years. Note, I deliberately stop the camera to let the pixels catch up.

No extra background music in this video.

So this visit wasn’t rushed at all. There was time to stand and listen to all the sounds. Although a slight breeze, the air was warm and pleasant.

However, back during my March visit the cool blue skies behind the House itself suggest it was colder back then. Our walk through the snowdrop displays was more brisk and we had the sea in our sights as we walked along the woodland path.

Cambo Gardens, March 2nd 2010.

Yes, it was blossom, brilliant red leaves of Bergenia, Snowdrops, Snowflakes and Crocus that caught my attention then. The piglets too.

Cambo Gardens, March 2nd 2010.

Yep... a lot can change over nine weeks in the garden. Heading towards May, this is my favourite time in my own garden. So much is about to change and by the begining of June we could be seeing blue poppies and white wisteria flowers being visited by bees.

I haven’t managed to capture any end of the month photos (to join Helen and other bloggers) from my own garden yet. I’ll see what I can get tomorrow. Things have been a bit stop and start here. I have much I want to do and complete. Mm… now do I give truthful views of my garden or not… there’s a question!

Let’s come back to the main reason for rushing this overdue posting… Anna Pavord visiting Cambo. A video search picked up the video shown below with Anna talking in an interview about her more recent book ‘Bulb’.

I’m guessing the interview has been added to someone browsing the book itself (I’m thinking it’s not Anna). It's a good mix anyway. You can browse the book and hear what a lovely soft voice Anna has. If you would like to hear her at Cambo then call 01333 450054 to see if there are any tickets left.

This is not my video. Perhaps you might want to
pour yourself a cuppa... this video lasts almost 10 minutes.

This new book really is a beauty too! I have to suggest you pick one up in a bookstore and look through it for yourself. I am delighted that I am the proud owner of a copy myself too. I received it, a few bunches of tulips and tickets to attend this talk for my birthday… now this is a birthday treat :-D

Oh… before I forget, I’d like to say a huge thanks to Mr Brown Thumb who helped me decide to go to this talk. He interviewed Anna when she was on a visit to Chicago and also reviewed her new ‘Bulb’ book. A huge thanks, also, to my non-gardening daughter for offering to accompany me to this talk :-)

How’s your week been? For me, it’s been a particularly busy week (not in the garden this time) and I do apologise for not answering my comments in the last two postings before posting this. I will come back to them very soon. However, I have one very disappointing update.

Sadly, our nestbox story seems to have been short lived. We have had no Blue tit roosting in our nestbox in three nights and no change to the nest in two days. What a huge pity there.

Over the weekend, I’m going to get OH to move the other nestbox (also empty) around the corner of the wall to see if it can attract any late nesters. Probably too late but you never know.

Wishing you a great weekend gardening and watching the birds in your own garden. I wonder if you have plans to go garden visiting too perhaps? Oh yes… and if you are heading to the Tulip talk at Cambo I hope you enjoy it. I may just see you there :-D

Monday, 26 April 2010

Moving along nicely

Rain over the weekend has invigorated many plants. Plant growth is moving along nicely. Continued visits to our nestbox and the nest inside is moving along nicely too.

Magnolia generously displaying flowers after recently being moved.
Clicking on photos will enlarge them.

New growth from a Geum. I love to see plants start anew.

Skimmia blossom opening, Nepata flowers developing, Dandelions, Alliums, Ferns, Red Campion, Drumstick Primula and Wallflower all moving along nicely in my front garden.

Fritillaries, Hellebores, Acers and Primroses moving along nicely in my my more shaded back garden. Brunnera leaves are getting larger each day and soon the narcissi in my lawn will be gone. The Fritillaries there will last a little longer yet. Yep… and cat visits are lasting a little longer now too as birds chatter louder and louder.

Okay, I have to admit Edmund did look rather handsome next to my narcissi. A neighbour’s cat, he does enjoy many sunny spots in my garden. Although he has got competition for these spots from a few other cats including a very young ginger one which is a bit too bold near the bird feeders for my liking.

On Sunday, Edmund did have a lot to see. The rain brought in groups of chattering Siskins to the (newly filled with sunflower heart) feeders. Where on the ground there were lots going on too. Starlings were running around in pairs collecting nesting material. Moving along from this stage Blackbirds are already feeding chicks by the beakfuls of sunflower hearts spotted leaving my garden.

Out of sight from Edmund and other cats our Blue tit female has continued to work on her nest in our camera nestbox. The montage below shows some progress shots starting with Thursday night. Things really are moving along nicely there now.

Let’s take a look at her in action at lunchtime today performing a number of nesting shuffles to form the nestcup of the nest. You can see in the video below that the front of the nest (LHS) is quite thick now and very bouncy.

There is some light background music in the video. The ocassional bright white fill in the picture is when the Blue tit is at the entrance hole and the infra red camera is adjusting to light levels changing.

For those that can’t view the video you can see that this lady is a tad interested in the camera too. She does seem curious about it and can often be seen jumping out of sight towards it. She must be gripping to an edge there somewhere as she then will appear near the entrance hole which is on the LHS of the images.

Mm… now the image below might be a little worrying. This was taken this evening… oh dear she isn’t roosting tonight! Now, I have heard that birds can build more than one nest. Has she built two perhaps?

Sticking my neck out here, I’d say she’ll be back to this one. She has worked hard on it in a short space of time. I’d say she’s in a hurry. Previous nestbox stories from my garden have both had a night with an empty box after the nest build has begun. Here’s hoping she’ll return to roost here again tomorrow night.

Have you any nesting stories you'd like to share? I know I'd like to hear about them. What's moving along nicely in your garden?

The garden photos above were all taken on April 25th 2010. The nestbox photos have been taken between April 22nd – 26th. The video shown above was taken on April 26th 2010.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

A wonderful coincidence

Just when I as good as gave up on seeing any nesting activity in either of my nestboxes with cameras inside them this year, just look what we have here tonight…

Not just a rooster can be seen napping in our new nestbox as I write this, but we have some nesting material in there too! Now there’s a surprise. I’m guessing that if this bird does intend using this nestbox she will have to work pretty quickly. Gosh, I can’t believe we may have a 2010 nestbox diary to share :-)

Roosters can get a little restless in nestboxes and can come out of their cosy ball for a moment or two. To my delight this one did revealing herself as a female Blue tit. Now, I can’t be certain that this is a female but at this stage and with nesting material in the box I’d consider the chances to be 99%.

We’ve twice been fortunate enough to see nests being built in another nestbox and what hard work the birds seem to make of it too. Although the image in this nestbox is black and white, I have a feeling we could get good clear close-up images with the added bonus of being able to see inside in lower light levels and in the dark.

Happy endings are not guaranteed when it comes to nesting birds. This is the reality of nature and we have seen this for ourselves. We have watched female blue tits as single parents fail to find enough food for their chicks and sadly they have died. It has been sad to see them all struggle.

I didn’t think I’d be posting for a few days but (after midnight yet again) I just wanted to quickly post this nestbox latest. I have another piece if brilliant news tonight too and with the coincidence of the two on the same day I’ve a feeling we (and the blue tits) might just get lucky with this nestbox this year :-)

Tonight I’d also like to blow a trumpet of bubbles for a very special achievement by the musician above, my daughter. With a toot, toot, toot too!!!

Today, after continued health issues in her repeated first year at Uni her grit, determination and a sunshine smile has taken her to the end of her coursework and exams. It has not been an easy trot for her. Second year... here she comes :-))))

Tomorrow, I will take the 2hr drive up to collect her… plus numerous boxes and bags. I can’t wait to give her a huge hug! I hope she is as proud of herself as we are of her. As a student physiotherapist, her first placement begins on Monday. We are just thrilled for her knowing how much she is looking forward to it.

Whatever you are looking forward to doing this weekend, with family, friends, in or out of the garden I do wish it is a good one for you too :-D

Update April 23rd:

While answering comments this morning, and watching inside the nestbox at the same time, more material has come in. Some nexting shuffles have been going on too. A story may just be beginning here :-D

The final image below shows how the nestbox looks is as I switch my PC off for now. I wonder how things will look by the end of the day :-D

The top nestbox photos shown above were taken in my garden on April 22nd 2010. The video and final photo was taken on April 23rd 2010

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Pensthorpe Nature Reserve

Tonight I’m doing a bit of blog housekeeping. I’ve been thinking for some time that I should click that delete button. Don’t worry shirls gardenwatch is safe… unless I make the wrong selection! (Phew... all went as planned)

I’ve had two other blogs that I simply don’t get around to updating. One has had extra bird photos and the other extra plant ones. There have been occasions where I have linked to some postings on these blogs. So I can keep a link intact I have copied over this post and am republishing it here. This posting below was originally posted on October 27th 2008. I have added an extra update on Springwatch returning to Pensthorpe for this year at the end of my photos.

Springwatch 2008 saw Bill Oddie and Kate Humble presenting this very popular BBC Two nature programme from Pensthorpe Nature Reserve in Norfolk – the new host for the show. Viewers followed action from the reserve including nesting birds – all fascinating stuff. However, I would like to highly recommend a visit in person at any time of the year! There really is so much to see - a great day out.

Below are photos from my visit in July 2008 showing some birds that caught my eye. You can read the accompanying story here where you will also find a couple of short, shaky videos (originally uploaded to BlipTV) newly uploaded again. We were on holiday during our visit but if I lived in that area I would be very tempted to buy a Pensthorpe Club Card so I could pop in any time!

My sincere thanks go to members of the BirdForum for their help in ID's for all but a few of my photos. I am more familiar with garden birds which you may know if you are a regular visitor. I was a little out of my depth here...

Tufted Duck

Chiloe Wigeon

Red creasted Pochard (Male in eclipse plumage)

Common Pochard (Male)

Mandarin Duck (Female)

Mute Swan Cygnets

White Cheeked Pintail

Red breasted Goose


Moorhen and juveniles


Black-necked Stilt (Juvenile)

Little Egret

Scarlet Ibis

Bald Ibis

Maribou stork

Further Update April 21st:

Browsing this morning has just led me to a BBC page on Pensthorpe. Wonderfully, Springwatch 2010 will be hosted at Pensthorpe for a third year.

“Presenters Kate Humble and Chris Packham will be based on the estate near Fakenham, reporting on the latest wildlife drama from around the UK.

"It's absolutely brilliant news... and a great coup for Norfolk," said Deb Jordan, owner of Pensthorpe.

Springwatch 2010 is on air for three weeks from Monday, 31 May, on BBC Two.
"Springwatch has proved that nature is endlessly fascinating. It doesn't matter if it's really familiar species like blue tits, as the story changes every year," said Kate Humble, speaking to BBC Norfolk."

All photos above were taken at Pensthorpe Nature Reserve in Norfolk, England, on July 22nd 2008.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Blooms and updates

Perhaps a late in posting to join Carol and everyone for April’s Bloom Day but here I am. Originally ahead of the game (taking my photos on the 13th) I then found no time near the PC! Too good an opportunity to miss, the dry, warm weather over the last week has helped kick start my garden projects for 2010 :-)

Things are taking shape out there now and although there is still much to do I do find this an exciting time of year. Yep, I’ve been a tad sore and tired but enthusiasm I am never short of when working in my garden. However, I am aware I have neglected my blog visitors and visits to other bloggers too.

Today we have had our first rain in over a week. Finally there was a time slot to start looking through my photos and building up some story telling montages. I never lose my enthusiasm for making montages either but probably spend too much extra time on them that I could use to visit other blogs.

Okay, enough chat for now. I’m certain I’ll not be the only one busy in the garden and short on time at the PC. I do hope you’ve been having a good time in your garden too be it watching birds, wildlife or gardening. I wonder what everyone in blogland has been up to. I'll have to get blog browsing myself tomorrow as its a little late tonight.

Let's quickly roll the storytelling montages…

Clicking on the montages will enlarge them.

What says Spring more than the many daffodil yellows, deep pink primula globes, tiny blue brunnera flowers, delicate pale yellow primroses, blossom with insects feeding and the robin following the gardener around. I've been getting followed a lot!

Tulips in flower tell us that Spring is moving on. Magnolia buds are beginning to open, wisteria buds will wait a little longer and crocus have left this Spring garden party! Soon to open fresh leaf buds on Hawthorn, Weeping Pear and Acers will take us through to the next stage. Climbers like Honeysuckle, roses and clematis too. Ivy leaves are attracting insects on sunny days.

With the schools off, the sunshine has had us out and about too. A wander around Scone Palace Grounds yesterday held the magic of Spring. The gardens celebrated drifts and drifts of daffodils. The beach hedge maze complimented them well. A complete contrast came with the blues of peacocks and a vibrant red flowering rhododendron. It was nice to see other families out too.

Back on April 13th it was hellebores and the perennial wallflower Bowles Mauve that joined my daffs in flower. Indoors I had orchid flowers (the only house plant I do) and vases of tulips. Back outdoors not all was pretty. Sedums are coming to life again but my cotoneaster is looking a little worse for the winter. I’m going to have to prune away the shrivelled uneaten berries.

This morning and the picture was quite different. The rain gave the garden a whole new look again. The montage above gives a little preview of what I’m been working on this last couple of weeks. My back garden hanging basket has had a makeover. Plants and rocks have been moved around… baskets of alliums were discovered!

My pond dig has begun and I’ve been a bit creative with spill. I’ll reveal what I’ve been up to with that another time. Time is needed for some weeding below the bird feeders now as the emergency seed mixes bought during our long snow spell have germinated.

Yesterday I spent some time tidying inside my greenhouse and shed as access had become restricted due to over use! A good reorg was required. Cleaning the glass in my greenhouse and treating the outside wood of my shed has to come up the list of jobs to do for the moment too. The next job with my pond is building a wall. That should be fun.

As I’ve not been on my PC during the evening this past while I haven’t seen much in the way of hedgehog activity. I continued to put food out at the feeding station and in the ground feeder beside my small pond. I have wondered if the building site around the new pond area might disorientate the visiting hedgehogs that pass by it. I hope not.

I have seen a hedgehog use the feeding station on a regular basis and using my night camera have been surprised to see where the cats do their night garden watching. They have used my arbour seat and have sat on the table next to Hedgehog Manor. I have seen one cat in particular almost follow the hedgehogs.

Edmund, our neighbour's cat 'cat watches' this intruder cat and takes time to pose for the camera. He hasn’t been seen following hedgehogs. No sightings on my cameras tonight out in the garden or in the nestboxes. Looks like we won’t be seeing nesting birds this year again. That’s a shame.

It was fascinating to see the hedgehog footprints in the snow at the end of March. But what’s that with the weather map above? No… don’t tell me we could be seeing snow footprints in the morning again. The BBC weather report says that in just a few hours at around 4am snow could fall in our area! Oh my... if the temps drop it will be a shock to our young guinea pigs recently back out in their outside hutch.

Gosh that is a bit weird to think that we could have snow at the same as volcanic ash clouds are above us. What a disruption this ash has been. I’d like to add that my thoughts are with those families unable to fly back home after their holiday break. Our Scottish school terms begin again this week.

Sorry, I really was trying not to chat on tonight. As always, after the weekend, I am wondering what has been visiting your garden and what garden work you have been up to. I do hope you had a good weekend :-D

Photos above were taken in and out my garden with the exception of the weather map image from the BBC.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Watching at the Reserve

Taking gardenwatching a step (car/bus journey) further, watching birds and wildlife outside the garden can be great fun. There's always a chance to get sightings that you may never see in your own garden. Capturing photos and video can also become a challenge too. I am guessing that many Nature Reserves were busy over the long weekend.

My daughter and I took a trip up to SWT Loch of the Lowes last Sunday. At just after lunchtime, the small car park was almost full. Luckily we got one of the last two parking spaces. Walking inside the Visitor Centre, we even queued to show our ticket! The Osprey story probably brought everyone in.

Click on photo to enlarge it.

It was quite different two weeks earlier when we had visited then. Capturing photos and video through the observation window can be tricky. Fortunately there was little movement inside - people walking around and their reflections showing in the window. I was able to capture some okay window shots shown in the montage above. Part of the problem is that depending on where we sit the angle through the glass varies and so in turn do my images. That’s my excuse anyway :-)

On both occasions (in my own garden too) numbers of Siskins visiting the feeders were what was catching everyone’s eyes. I heard at the centre that they were likely to be feeding up before they headed off again. Funnily enough, I’m sure we have seen juveniles in my garden during the summer which would suggest that they don’t all migrate.

Red squirrels I have never seen in my garden… sadly not ever likely to either I’d take a guess. Lol… maybe I should invite Gordon Buchanan and the Springwatch team to investigate! However, even after after finding my first bird’s nest at age 8½ yrs on the day we moved into a new house, the red squirrel is my first wildlife memory. I lived further North then. I really enjoy seeing them at this Reserve especially as they run around a woodland setting.

Woodpeckers, Jays, Yellowhammers, Treecreepers and Bramblings are others that I have only seen there. I had no idea that the Jay was so big nor the Yellowhammer so bright yellow! Although books do suggest that the Yellowhammer is brighter in the winter.

As you might expect, I also enjoy chatting to other visitors (and staff) at the Centre. However, I’ll not chat on here tonight. Instead, I’ll let my video below give you a flavour of what we saw at this Reserve. For anyone familiar with the Centre layout, I was sitting to the right hand side of the window.

For a change, I have used the audio swap feature with my upload. I can’t control the volume with this so if you are sensitive to noise you might want to turn your speaker volume down a little as it may be louder. However, I am very pleased with the final result so I hope you enjoy it too :-D

For those who can’t view this video it ends with the image below. This feeder regularly appears in the live feeder camera image. You can see the tail of a red squirrel. The squirrels often disappear inside this type of feeder. Shortly after, it comes out and runs across to the tree trunk, down it and off along the ground.

Pine Martens can be seen at this feeder too although not at the moment. Something must be keeping them away. Feral cats have been suggested. However, back at the end of October 2008 I visited on a Pine Marten Evening and was very lucky to see one feeding on the ground not far from the window.

I have recently uploaded these videos to YouTube and the quality has improved greatly. I thought I’d share one here again. As it was whisper quiet at the time of filming I removed all sound and added no extra music.

Back in my garden, as I write this, it is almost midnight and I am watching my outside night camera image live on the top right of my monitor. I have been hoping to see hedgehog visits to my feeding station and hedgehog house. No sightings tonight so far but I have seen them over the last few nights. Mm… it appears that I'm not the only one gardenwatching either!

Just about to switch of the PC... guess who came to visit? Markings on this hedgehog suggest it is our first regular visitor!

The photo montage shown above was taken on March 26th 2010. The video and screen grab was taken on April 4th. The Pine Marten video was taken on October 30th 2008.

Friday, 2 April 2010

End of month views March 2010

Is this a late April Fools? Well… yes, in a way it is! Oh yes, the return of snow was real earlier in the week. In reality, it did add to this posting for March being late. Oh yes… that and the April Fool that would be me! Then the joke was on me late last night as I went to post this.

A glitch with Blogger and I went back to square something. Fortunately, I write my posts on a word doc so I have that to pull for text although I do change it around between the two. Fortunately, my photos remained in my post. Although, this is the reality of blogging at odd times I do enjoy it. I'm thinking you know that already.

So let's see if I can salvage this original post so it makes sense. Now, what was I saying last night? Yep, as you might guess today this is a chatty post. Today you'll find a wildlife mystery solved and an unexpected piece of planting. There's a couple of short videos too so perhaps if you have time you might like to pour yourself a cuppa... one should do ;-)

Yesterday was my birthday... yep I was born an April Fool! Now, I wonder if you guess who came for a pre birthday meal and a drink the night before my birthday and kept me away from posting this first time around?

A clue was given to possible guests in my snowy Wordless posting on Wednesday. Mm… I wondered if anyone would spot it. Here’s another clue…

Clicking on photos will enlarge them.

Nope? Okay, hands up I did Google this one. Although, not surprisingly, there were few images to help out with an ID. It did have my suspicions though. Lol... yes the print on the left was from a wellington boot ;-)

With wellies on, during Wednesday morning at around 8:30am (hence the varying brightness with the following images) I went out for a wander with my camera. Miss Marple that I was, I was looking for supporting evidence...

Oh… and I found it … absolutely conclusive in my opinion too. I knew it wasn’t tracks from one of the cats that pass regularly through my garden. The footprints I was looking at were too small and too close together.

Was it a bird? Lol… no, out in the snow it was Superhog! Through watching the hedgehogs visit my garden over the last couple of years, I was very familiar with the most common routes they take. The tracks in the snow were very clear to see following these routes.

Finally, the hedgehogs in my area look like they are out of hibernation and have been out and about again. I have to say I was most surprised that they were out looking for food when there was snow on the ground.

Okay, stage two had to be seeing to fully believe the hedgehogs were back. I set up an outside IR camera opposite the recently reinstated Hedgehog Manor feeding station and waited by my monitor on Wednesday evening.

I was doing other stuff on the PC at the same time and the outside camera image was showing at the top right of my screen. I love being able to do this. My daughter was blowing up balloons and decorating the room for my birthday all around me as I watched. I was part-time assisting by tying the knots in the balloons... nobody seems to like doing that job ;-)

Now, I have to say that the chances of seeing the hedgehogs live in the evening before midnight at any time of year can be slim. I don't sit glued to my monitor every evening either. One of the best times to see them tends to be at dusk when they tend to appear. What about now when its cold? I didn't know the answer to that.

However, even with sightings being a slim chance at the moment, it still doesn’t put me off watching at all. In fact it makes the whole thing much more special for me. So, on the very first evening of the year watching for hedgehogs with my camera was I lucky?

Unbelievably yes… and what a thrill especially as I would take a guess that I actually saw two! Now, the video below at just over a minute has been edited. I was away from the screen when this hedgehog arrived. I recorded it eat for a solid ten minutes. It definitely looked hungry.

There is music added to these videos for those who may need to turn this down. Don't know what's going on with this first video hopefully it will sort itself out. I didn't do anything any different with the upload.

So what makes me think that I saw two hedgehogs on Wednesday night? Well, the first one discovered the food around the dish and on the paving stone inside the feeding station. Hedgehogs do seem to remember where they find food. Let’s now look at the second visitor for last night…

For those who can’t view the video above, the hedgehog drinks water from the dish in front of the two pots and doesn’t find the dish of food. It is using its snout to sniff out food and only finds a few crushed peanuts in the foreground. I felt myself wanting to shout out “It’s behind you!”.

Now, my post title suggests this to be the end of the month view of the garden. Let's get on with that now. Although I should add that Hedgehog Manor does appear again. I'm joining The Patient Gardener and other bloggers with this posting. To see other posts for this month head over to Helen's post.

It’s fair to say that not a huge amount as changed in the borders since the end of February. More buds, bulbs in flower and my first definite shrub casualty of this winter… my pittosporum with silver green foliage. I am very sorry to lose that one. All leaves have turned brown and are falling off now.

What about progress with the new pond? Well the image below shows the honest truth. Nothing has been placed for the photo. I’m still at the marking out shapes stage. I am using my hose for an outline shape and orange twine and canes to mark lines from surrounding areas.

At the moment I am finding myself looking at the viewpoints from areas all around the site of the pond and considering how they can all connect. As my garden is small I feel it is important that areas flow together rather than stand alone.

My 'eye' told me some turf had to be lifted ;-) You can see the almost and before photos below.

The completed job shows the view back across the garden from behind the pond site in front of my hedge. The shape draws you towards/away from the pond now. You can see the weather had changed now too. I carried on getting a little wet and muddy later!

I placed the lifted grass turf on a tarpaulin and dragged it to an area beneath my hedge and stacked it grass side down there where it will rot down in time.

I am now wondering why I never made this change before now. Ah... now I do know the answer to that one... my daughters. This area of grass could take a good sized rectangular paddling/swimming pool that was used during warm summers. All gardens evolve with use over the years especially when children are young. One day I'd like to get round to posting on this.

Plants removed, divided and potted up from the pond site were kept in the sheltered position under my pergola over the winter. I wanted this pathway back now as it leads to my rotary dryer and Arbour.

For the short term I have laid the potted plants on the new border space. I’m not in a hurry to plant this new area.

I was however, in a hurry to establish a new feeding station location for hedgehogs under my pergola. This should be better as it will be further away from the guinea pigs which will be coming outside again in the next month. They can be noisy at times and are up and about during the night too.

Hedgehog Manor was the name chosen for the adopted plastic rabbit/guinea pig hutch that we no longer use. It gives a dry area inside for food with an additional room for an evening nap.

Originally I had a clear Perspex front to it with an opening of 13cm x13cm for the hedgehogs to get in and at the same time keeping the rain out. Unfortunately in its previous location birds would wander in and a very distressed Song Thrush couldn’t get out and I had to carefully open it up. I stopped using it there after that.

Although I embrace encouraging birds and wildlife to my garden I also consider how I place any features such as this in my garden. Hedgehog Manor is a good size as you can see in the video and photos. The one thing that offended my eye with this was the green plastic roof.

Last Autumn, I bought a piece of corrugated clear Perspex with the intention of adding a green planted roof to my bird table. I couldn’t get a small bit. Looking at the plants over wintered in trays sitting in my newly extended border I found myself with a storage solution for both!

By cutting a piece of corrugated Perspex to a size that covered the roof I laid it on top. Just in case this didn’t work I didn’t attach it. With the ridges running horizontally I began filling them with garden soil from the new pond area. My thoughts were that the ridges would hold soil and some moisture as well.

I should say I felt like a child again playing at a sand pit! With everything a little damp I got well messy too as did everything I touched with my muddy gloves. I was pretty confident that the trays of London pride would have formed a mat of roots and this would give me the edge tiles that would hold everything in place. Yep it worked. I tipped them out and started laying my alternative green roof!

Another reason for choosing the trays of London pride was that they were planted already as a mat of ground cover on the path side opposite. When walking back and forth the black grasses nearby then caught my eye.

Ah… I also had pots of lifted and divided black grasses sitting waiting for a new home. Surprisingly enough I managed to get a good covering of soil over the roof. I could actually plant my black grasses there too.

Tying the ground planting of grasses to the roof, I found an empty pot and filled it with some grasses too. We now have a black grass river over our green roof. I can’t wait to see how this will look by the time the London Pride will flower.

You might also notice that I added a tray’s worth of London pride inside the hutch too. Don’t know if that will work but though it might make it more worth exploring for passing hedgehogs. Yes… the pink paving slab will need to go now as it catches my eye now. Perhaps I could pick up a piece of slate! Now, I’ve always fancied slate paving :-)

Job done, post done and perhaps your attention well gone :-) All that’s left to say now is I watched for hedgehogs last night but didn’t see any. I looked at the food dish this morning and it’s very clear to see a snout has been in there! Great news. I knew setting up a new feeding station in a different area of the garden would be a risky move.

Expecting that everyone will be busy with family this weekend (with perhaps a generous sprinkling of garden fever) I’ll not post again for a few days. You’ve probably heard enough from me for now anyway :-)

However, I have one final ask… do you have any garden projects planned for this weekend? How about gardenwatching… what do you think you will see? I’d like to wish you a great weekend, however you plan to spend it :-D

All garden photos shown above were taken during the last week of March 2010. The videos were recorded on March 31st 2010.