Sunday, 9 January 2011

Past, present and future

Well I didn't win the National Lottery over Christmas and New Year so my plans of being able to retire early and spend more time outside (obviously in a larger house, possibly a small holding where I can have chickens, goats and pigs) have been foiled yet again!

Today has been my first real productive day out in the garden since before Christmas - bearing in mind that the flu kept me indoors for a week and then my energy levels have taken most of the two weeks over the festive season to get back to normal. The garden looks tired and beaten. Not surprising since the hard frost that lay on the ground for weeks has taken its toll on the plants and the lawn. Everything has been covered in a heavy layer of dead autumn leaves, despite my efforts to clear them last year, and after the overlaying frost thawed at Christmas everywhere is sodden.

So it was just a tidying up session today. I raked up what leaves I could from the borders and the lawn and trimmed back some of the Canary Clover, it's got quite stringy last year. With everything so wet it's probably best that I let the lawn and borders dry out a bit more before I do any weeding and to see if there's been any damage to the grass.  I was a little concerned about raking the leaves off it today so I was careful not to be too heavy handed - I didn't want to tug on the grass and do any damage to the roots. I shall have to wait and see if the Siddalcea and Aquilegia have survived.  I can see some bulb leaves coming through, I think it's the Grape Hyacinths (I forget to label my plants a lot of the time!) and the Alliums that are trying to peep through.

Up in 'The Field' it's a similar story - the soil is too wet and heavy to dig.  I suppose one good bit of news is that the frost has really given the ground weeds a beating this winter.  You know what spinach looks like when it's been cooked? soggy, shrivelled mush?  Well that's what the ground weeds look like in the field at the moment.  No doubt, they'll be back with a vengeance as soon as Spring arrives. Again I'll have to play the waiting game and hope that the ground dries up a bit over the next few weeks before I can start any digging up there.  There's still plenty of hedge clearing to be done though, so I can crack on with that in the meantime.

I have been faithfully keeping the bird feeders full though, which at the rate the birds are going through them is very regular indeed!   I've hung up a couple of those 'anti-squirrel' bird feeders with wild bird feed in one and peanuts in the other and about 5 fat balls and it's like an 'all you can eat for free' buffet out there!  Last year I had a normal bird feeder up and a sweet little peanut holder shaped like a house.  The squirrels took these to be educational toys.  They quickly demonstrated their level of high intelligence by chewing the wood on the peanut holder and ripping the wire frame out and also enlarging the hole in the bird feeder so that they could just pour the seeds out onto the ground and eat them from there.  Lets see how these new feeders stand up to their shenanigans!

So, did I get any of those tasks on my Winter List done?  nope! The fruit cage stills needs to be put up, the area for the future chicken run still needs to be marked out and the hedge laying will have to wait until I've brought a good quality billhook.  That's a task that may well make it on to the Winter List for 2011.

I shall, however be coppicing one or two of the hazels in 'The Field'.  The raised vegetable beds are ready for me to start growing this year and I want to use some of the hazel as support for plants like runner beans.  I'm also hoping to have a go at weaving a short hazel hurdle just to screen off the compost container so that it doesn't spoil the view when your looking up the field.

Sorry there's no photos of the garden at the moment, I completely forgot to take the camera up with me today. However, whilst I was visiting family over the New Year we went for a lovely walk in a local nature reserve called the Sence Valley Forest Park, not far from mum and dad's.  It was once the site of a colliery but is now landscaped and planted as part of the National Forest.  Despite the drizzling rain, we had an enjoyable walk around the lake, watching the birds, meeting friendly (and very wet) dogs and their owners and generally blowing away the cobwebs from New Year's Eve! So how about some pictures of birds on the lake and ice instead?  Hopefully I'll remember to get some updated photos of the garden next weekend.

Whatever 'ups and downs' we may all face this year, I hope that the 'ups' far outweigh the 'downs' for everyone. I also hope that I have lots to write about the garden this year, and that means me taking more opportunity to crack on with jobs and get things done.

One present I had from my parents this Christmas was a little wall plaque that said "A garden is a thing of beauty and a job forever" true; how very true!

graceful swans

this duck hadn't learnt to walk on water....I don't think he dared to move on the ice!

lakeside walk at Sence Valley 

The Leicestershire Golden Oldie....resident in the area, friendly, jovial and good natured!

The Furry Capped Warbler - mainly resident in Cornwall; makes loud laughing noises, generally approachable


Dancin' Fool said...

Happy New Year Sensory Dragon and Happy Year Two for your blog! I love the bird spotting shots!!!!!! There were some rare sightings there!

Looking forward to your garden adventures this year.

Sensory Dragon said...

Cheers Dancin' Fool! It wasn't hard to spot the local wildlife on the bridge.....they're regular visitors to the site! Hope I can bring some really interesting and amusing stories to my blog this year.