We’re half way through small daughter’s school Easter holidays, and we’ve got plenty done. There has been bedroom tidying (long-overdue), Easter egg eating (there has to be some reward for the bedroom tidying!), and plenty of outdoors-ing, thanks to the weather not being as bad as it could be.
I’ve been able to persuade small daughter to come on some longer walks with the dog and me (mostly, I suspect, because if she’s out with me she’s not having to tidy her room), and Thursday was a great day for it. We saw blue skies and even some sunshine – oh, doesn’t it feel wonderful to feel it on your face? – and everywhere there were signs of spring.
The wild garlic is sprouting along the banks – funny, it must have been there for a while but I’ve not noticed it before this week …
and there were huge clumps of primroses. Gorgeous!
Less gorgeous is the state of my garden at the moment. I have a plan in my mind which I can see very clearly, but the reality is that it’s not at that stage yet. I’m still at the late winter clearing stage and have been chopping, sawing and pruning this week so at least there’s progress. The strange weather over the last few months has meant that everything in the garden is behind – no signs of flowers or shoots where there have been previously (it’s been fascinating to read back through my archives and see what the garden was doing this time two, three and even four years ago) so it’s not such a disaster that I’m still tidying up in April. I was going to go out and do more today but it’s raining which has stopped me in my tracks – for now, anyway; there may be more seed sowing later as it’s dry in the greenhouse.
This is one of the big problems in my garden at the moment … ivy. It’s everywhere! I think it originally came through from next door’s garden and I didn’t deal with it straight away which I should have done. There’s a saying about ivy (I’m full of sayings! 🙂 ) that “the first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps and the third year it leaps” which explains how I’ve got caught out as it didn’t look like it was doing very much, but it certainly is now! I’ve been ripping it out by the metre – it’s lucky that our green waste bin collection has started again now!
There is something very satisfying about reclaiming your garden from the overgrown plants. I’m hoping that the plants appreciate the extra sunlight and the chance to send up new growth from where I’ve cut them down. I’ve got an old copy of this book which has been invaluable over the years; some plants are easy to prune and renovate as you do it every year but others are less prolific growers and you forget in the few years between pruning. I know you can find the information on the internet, but sometimes I just like to look in a book and certainly where gardening is concerned.
It was also time to do something about the bird boxes. This one, which has been home to a family of blue tits every spring for almost as long as we’ve been here, is no longer a des res. It’s high up on a tree and I hadn’t seen quite how bad it was, although I had wondered why there hadn’t been any early visits from Mr and Mrs Blue Tit this year.
This one’s not much better. I built this one years ago to try to tempt robins to visit but I don’t think anything has ever been in this box except for insects. It was time to take it down …
and put up two new boxes instead. I bought these from Aldi at the end of last year (I love the eclectic mix of things that you can buy at Aldi – bird boxes stacked next to face cream stacked next to jelly sweet makers – fabulous!)
The top front section comes off these boxes to make it easier to attach them to where they are going to go, and also to turn them into robin boxes if you wanted to. I decided to leave them as they are, given that no robins have visited the Winwick Mum Bird Box Estate Agency in the last however many years. That’s it, they can nest elsewhere (and they do)! 🙂
The boxes have been outside over the winter – I wanted them to lose their “new” smell – and it took a bit of doing to get the front off, thanks to these strange screws. Too big for a Phillips screwdriver, not the right shape for a flat headed one. Who thought it was a good idea to use these?!
Luckily, I managed to find one that fitted (I bought this set years ago and it’s been worth every penny – I don’t think I’ve ever not found a head that fitted a screw) and then the next fun part was trying to attach it to the tree. Eventually, after some muttering at the tree which wasn’t being helpful at all, and a few hefty thumps with a hammer to get the screws to even bite into the wood, I managed to screw the boxes into the tree and now – ta dah – brand new boxes all ready for new residents. I may have left it a bit late for this year, but they’re up on the tree now so if any birds choose to come a-visiting, they’ll find show homes all ready to move into.
Other than that, whilst small daughter has been turning her bedroom into her own des res, I’ve been out in the greenhouse sowing seeds. Night scented stock … it looks like I’ve been worried that there might be a shortage of seeds for some reason – I don’t remember that being on the six o’clock news!
I’ve sowed my sprout seeds for this year too. It appears I may have overlooked a vital piece of information on the seed packet last year …
Tara commented on my previous post about last year’s sprout disaster that she’d tried flower sprouts. I’ve never heard of them before (and if you haven’t either, this article will be a revelation!) but I think I may try them out next year when I buy my new seeds. This year, I’m still using up what my Dad had in his seed box but I’ll need to start replacing them for the next season and it’s always good to have new ideas.
I also mentioned in that same post that I’d started off my sweet pea seeds in wet newspaper. It’s something that I’ve done for years and it works very well for me. It’s never quite as successful as beans as they can turn into soggy mush if you’re not very careful, but for peas (whether for flowers or for eating), it works really well. This is how they looked after one week …
and it would have been fine to plant them out into the compost then as they are sprouting nicely, but I always like to leave mine just that little bit longer until the shoot as well as the root is showing and then I know they’ll grow quickly.
I’ve got them potted up now so hopefully by next week there’ll be some decent growth to show you. There’s always that slight panic when you leave seed-sowing a bit later, but gardening is good for me as I can’t micro-manage it; the seeds do what they do in their own time, they catch up with where they’re meant to be and they know how to do it without me organising them in any way. I can write all the lists I like, but you can’t make something grow faster than it wants to (in general, anyway!).
Finally, it was such a joy to see this sunset last night. It seems like such a long time since there have been any colours in the sky other than grey, but over the last two days the colour has returned and I have been very grateful to see it.