Thursday, March 25

A gift from above!

We are not the only ones who plant things in our garden. From time to time the birds leave a small gift by way of a thank you for the food and water with which we provide them.

A few years ago I noticed one such plant which I didn't recognise and so decided to leave be for a while. Patience had its reward. We now have a small but healthy daphne which is at the moment full of lovely scented flowers.

Unfortunately the position chosen by our benefactor isn't ideal so I was planning on moving it but have since found out that daphnes don't like to have their roots disturbed so it looks as though it will have to stay put.

Wednesday, March 24

Frogs a-wooing

There was a increase in activity in the garden pond yesterday - the frogs are back!

We counted eight of them at one time all jostling one another for position on top of an available female.

The fish were very interested in all the activity - no doubt fancying a frog spawn supplement to their diet.

The frogs have laid quite a large pile of spawn but no doubt not all of it will survive to tadpole stage. Not only will the eggs have to escape the attentions of the fish but it is still likely that we could have some frosty temperatures.

The frogs soon disappear if we get too close so some photos were taken from the bedroom window.

Click here for more frog information on my website

Just popped out to see how the frogs were doing. There was a lots of frogspawn.

After I had taken photo above I looked around and everywhere were frogs heads popped out of the water watching me.

Even though I got really close they just stared back - very different from the activity yesterday!

More frog photos - they have just become so tame that I can't resist them!

What lovely legs!

I had a nice chat to this large male. Not sure what we said - we just croaked to one another!

But these three clearly still had other things on their minds!

Promise no more for a while!

Monday, March 22

A fruitful week

This has been a very fruitful week in more ways than one. Much of our attention has focused on preparing the ground and planting fruit trees and bushes.

Seed potatoes laid out in the garden greenhouse are just beginning to sprout under their cosy fleece blanket. Beds have been rotavated and prepared for planting them next month. In the garden greenhouse Maris Bard seed potatoes have been planted in bags and a trough of Early Nantes carrots sown. These should hopefully give us some early crops.

Although we are still holding off planting most seeds until next month, broad beans – Witkiem Manita - have been sown in pots. Being hardy these should tolerate any cold periods.

For more photos and this weeks update to my March diary click here

Request from a visitor

One of our visitor's schools is one of five short-listed in a 'Get Schools Growing Now' campaign. Their success depends on receiving the most number of votes by midnight on Sunday 11 April 2010. Please support them by visiting the website here and registering a vote for Stanwell Fields School. You can register a vote every day!

Monday, March 15

A little more activity last week.

This week saw the first planting of the year on the plot so things are looking up. We planted our new raspberry canes and shallots.

We also managed to do quite a lot of tidying so things are looking up - why do I wish that I hadn't said that?

For last week's update to the March diary and more March photographs click here

The summary of last week's weather is here

Sunday, March 14

Visit to Dunham Massey

Monday we decided on a day out at Dunham Massey in Cheshire. As the sun shone it proved to be a well chosen day for an outing. A new winter garden was constructed there in 2008 in order to increase the visitor season.

This is still in it's infancy and the poor spring meant that many of the promised displays hadn't actually happened yet - but this was expected. The trees however looked great against a clear blue sky.

The water birds were very accommodating staying still long enough for me to manage some shots. Far easier than photographing the birds that visit our garden! Below are just two of the photos I took of the mallards as I must admit to having been a bit carried away and surprised when my camera showed that I had taken over 300 photos - not all of the birds though!

To see some of the photos and video that were taken during our visit

Tuesday, March 9

The year marches on!

Well the crocuses managed to show their faces last week - maybe wished they hadn't though.

We also managed to show our faces on the plot but were far more well wrapped up than the crocuses in only their party dresses. The layers of clothing made us look as though the months of inactivity had left us several stone heavier.

I have enjoyed visiting quite a lot of garden blogs and websites over the past few weeks. The activity out there is amazing. We have however resisted the temptation to sow any seeds yet although most people seem to have started sowing seeds. At the moment our seeds are staying in their packets. Few seeds will be sown until the weather improves – we may risk some of the hardier vegetables such as broad beans. No doubt, with the help of a heated propagator, seeds would germinate so that isn’t an issue. The problem comes once the seedlings need pricking out or growing on. Advice to keep seedlings in the house on a windowsill doesn’t work – not for us anyway. Even if we had enough window sills the seedlings still become weak and leggy. The seedlings suffer a setback and cannot continue to grow – this means once they are planted out they have a struggle to recover. Seeds sown later can be kept in continuous growth so their growing isn’t interrupted and they usually catch up or even overtake earlier sowing to produce stronger plants. It’s just so tempting to start when reading that everyone else is but with prolonged periods of minus degrees - this year is just so exceptional cold - we will just have to be brave and stand firm.

The first diary entry for March - yes it's March already - has been posted on the website and can be viewed here

The list of seeds we have bought is here

Friday, March 5

I wish I could take better bird photos!

This is my latest attempt to capture a blue tit bathing in one of our bird baths!
I've been browsing some blogs where fantastic bird photos are posted such as:

It's much easier photographing plants as they stay still - anyway I'll keep trying maybe practice will make perfect!

Thursday, March 4

Old and new life.

I took advantage of a sunny afternoon to have a wander around the garden and take a few photographs.

The way this tulip was growing through the skeletal remains of one of last years magnolia leaves particularly caught my eye.

It's just one example of the cycle of nature.

Wednesday, March 3

Forever winter and never Christmas

video clip taken on 1 March has been added to the February diary. Although taken on March 1 it really shows the plot as it was in February. To go straight to the video clip - click here

My diary dates back to January 2007 and I realised that to access the earlier diary entries visitors had to follow a rather tortuous route  and so I have added a diary archive which allows direct access to any entries.
Click here to go directly to the diary archive

As for the name of this post it just came to mind when I was thinking on this year so far! Wonder who can be the first to identify where the quote comes from. I think the White Witch has cast her spell over us too! It snowed again on Tuesday!

Click here for links to more ideas for Mother's Day gifts

Tuesday, March 2

It's not just OUR daffodils that are reluctant to bloom.

Yesterday was St David's day - the patron saint of Wales - and traditionally daffodils are worn to mark the occasion, however the freezing conditions this year has meant that daffodils crops are about a month behind. So maybe the Welsh have had to resort to wearing the other symbol of St David - a leek!

Our garden and plot seem to have been consumed by a time warp as everything seems to be standing still, not only are the daffodils reluctant to grow but the snowdrops in the garden have only opened their petals once when a stray beam of sunshine fell on them, although the clumps planted under the plum and greengage trees at the allotment are fully open – they are in a position to catch any bouts of sunshine whereas those in the garden are in shade.

These are miniature daffodils that are usually one of the first to flower in our garden.

These are their larger cousins and are a little further on - maybe due to the sheltered position but as you can see although they are all the same variety some are much more advanced than others

For those of you who have forgotten what sunshine is - it's the shiny stuff that casts patches on the ground!

My February diary and photo album is almost complete - just a video clip to add and can be viewed here and a summary of February's weather can be viewed here.

Don't forget our weather blog gives a daily summary.