When I was sitting in the garden yesterday, I was delighted to see the birds were using these pot saucers as a water supply.
I have chosen these pictures taken in Our Garden@19 during 2021 to create a calendar for this year.
It is difficult to select a favourite photograph from each month of the year.
However these are my choices.
I have chosen my favourite photograph from last year as a calendar cover picture.
Do you have a favourite picture from 2021?
I have previously written about St Wulstan’s Nature Reserve being a favourite walk.
These pictures are from our visit yesterday.
Even a wet December day can provided some photo opportunities.
Photographs taken with a Canon EOS1100D with a Canon 18-200mm lens.
This is the first time a Nuthatch has visited the garden bird feeders, fortunately it stayed feeding long enough for me to grab my camera. The pictures were taken through the dining room window with the flash turned off.
The UK Nuthatch is a woodland bird, always associated with trees or tall bushes. It has the unique habit in the UK of plastering mud around the entrance to its nest hole.
Have you seen any new visitors?
Trees and Leaves.
Autumn pollen providers.
We have had a colourful, mild autumn, the garden has been a delight.
Photographs taken with the Canon close up lens 500D 72mm attached to the 18-200mm lens.
Please select Watch on YouTube then full screen for video.
What is giving you Autumn Joy in the garden or countryside?
This is the first time this colourful garden visitor has been seen this year. These markings are of a juvenile, thankfully it stayed feeding long enough for me to fetch my camera.
With the tentative easing of lock down restrictions our first garden visits have been to Spetchley Park Gardens with 30 acres to roam there is space for everyone.
Spetchley Park, Worcester has been privately owned for over 400 years, with a good garden history due to its connection with Miss Willmott. It also has tea rooms, a heritage centre and plant sales. http://www.spetchleygardens.co.uk
This gallery of pictures was taken during our visit in early May.
Where is your favourite garden to visit?
This winter in Our Garden@19 has been busy with ‘Estate Maintenance’. I previously posted about replacing the trellis and fence in the white and green garden, then as now my brother Derek has been my right hand man.
Replacing the entrance to the propagation area was the simplest of our recent efforts. We gave it an oriental look.
Continuing with the oriental theme, our neighbour’s fence at the back of the oriental garden started to fall over with the weight of the ivy and snow. I decided to cut back the ivy and erect a new fence on my side.
Then painted it black to tie in with the rest of this area.
A moon window was added to look into the room.
Next on the list was rebuilding the raised beds.
The old obelisks I built when we came here were dismantled and rebuilt, hopefully with more style, to a design by Geoff Hamilton.
Broad Bean Scarlet Flower and Sweet Peas started in pots now planted out.
These early spring bulbs and flowers have been cheering me up on sunny days. Please click on gallery pictures to enlarge.
Back to the oriental garden.
In the rest of the garden…
The pollinators have also been taking advantage of the sunshine.
What is springing you into action this spring?
Why you should allow some ivy to grow in your garden.
I do grow some cultivated variegated forms, ivy does not produce any flowers until their adult growth stage when the leaf shape changes, usually at around 10years. They can be kept pruned to their juvenile stage and leaf shape when they will at least provide nesting sites for birds.
Do you grow ivy in your garden?
A favourite walk of ours even before lockdown was St. Wulstan’s Nature Reserve. Before it became a nature reserve, it had a fascinating history as a US army hospital, a TB hospital and a psychiatric hospital, it is managed by Worcestershire county council.
These pictures are from a visit in early July, the open areas around the shrubby were full of colour and insect life
Because of its sweet honey like scent ladies bedstraw was used for bedding
The sap from wild parsnip is toxic. Cultivated parsnip left in the garden for a second year has attractive flowers.
At the end of Matron’s Path, there was the Rowan covered in berries and the wild Clematis with its fluffy seed heads.
In a lane closer to home was this flower, it looks a little like an orchid. it is the Dyer’s Greenweed. historically used to create a yellow dye.
Do you have a favourite walk?
This weekend six gardens in the village of Hanley Swan should have been opening in aid of the NGS nursing charities.
Due to the Covid-19, this has been cancelled, so together with the other garden openers, we have created a video tour of the gardens.
Please make yourself a cup of tea or any beverage of your choice. Imagine you are in the gardens, sit back, turn on the sound, click on play, select full screen and enjoy.
Every year since 2011 our village church has held open gardens over this bank holiday weekend, we have taken part every year bar one. This year, along with all open gardens it has had to be cancelled. With the public unable to come to the garden, this weekend, I have produced a tulip video tour from Our Garden@19.
Please turn the sound up, select full screen on the video, click play and enjoy the tulip tour.
This tour takes us around Our Garden@19 to see what is adding colour and interest in late March-early April. Happy Easter, stay well and enjoy.
When we purchased the house, I designed the garden and the rear of the main border, now named the blue border, was planted with climbing roses, trained to rope swags. Unfortunately, the rope soon rotted and was replaced with trellis. Now several years later the trellis along with some of the posts required replacing this winter. With a coil of blue rope already in stock, I have gone back to plan A. The posts have been replaced, painted to match the colour scheme and furnished with new fittings. I also took the opportunity to remove two of the oldest roses. They came with us from our previous garden and there are still two identical ones elsewhere in the garden. Managing so many vigorous rambling/climbing rose was becoming quite hard work. (Old age, mine not the roses). These will be replaced with clematis, joining some already there.
You may notice, in the picture above, lots of plant debris on the garden. I recently read an article about the Melinium Garden at Pentsthorpe Natural Park in Norfolk, which we had visited in 2012. This garden was designed by Piet Oudolf, the internationally famous dutch nurseryman and garden designer, known for his prairie style planting. Historically, the many perennials and grasses were not cut down in the garden until February, to provide winter shelter for insects, and then removed to giant compost heaps. According to the article, they now cut it all down in small bites, or pieces, leaving it on the ground as a mulch, to continue providing homes for the wildlife.
While I do not claim this border to be ‘prairie planting’, it does contain perennials and grasses so I decided to experiment with cutting it down in small bites, leaving it as a mulch. I did this using garden shears if you had more to do you could use a hedge cutter (Mine has broken).
I will add my usual mulch on top of this in March, I do it then to smother the chickweed, which germinates here around that time. It will be interesting to see how it develops, I don’t think it will suit the tidy gardener. However, we are constantly being advised that as gardeners we should be a little more untidy to help the wildlife.
I will record progress with photos and publish them later in the year.
Have you tried this in your garden?
This year I noticed that the Parthenocissus Tri. Veitch, Boston Ivy, behind the banana bench, had been almost completely replaced with wild Ivy. Now while I like Ivy in the garden for its benefit to wildlife, here I would prefer to see a more colourful plant. I decided that it was necessary to remove the ivy.
This revealed that the Ivy was holding up the trellis, with most of it rotten along with two of the posts at ground level. I was left with no other option than to replace it all.
I have, in previous blogs mentioned my inclination to watch TV gardening programmes for inspiration. On several occasions concrete reinforcing steel grid has been used to support climbing plants instead of wood trellis. With the advantages of not going rotten, not requiring painting (the rust look is on trend, so I’m told) and at 3.6m x 2m for just under £20 is cheaper than trellis. Two repair spikes were required with some rapid set postcrete to repair the two rotten posts, then a coat of wood preservative applied. Next grid was cut to size with a steel cutting angle grinder. The grid was fixed to the posts with 2×1” treated and stained timber screwed through to the posts.
Have you had any unexpected autumn Projects?
………..and the bee!
The Spider and the Fly,
by Mary Howitt. 1828.
Asters, Michaelmas Daisies or Symphyotrichum, as some of them have now been renamed, are one of the autumn garden flowers I have always loved to see. This is probably because of the wonderful stand that grew in my parents and grandparents gardens.
There are many to choose from, for October’s plant of the month, in Our Garden@19.
I have selected Symphyotrichum ‘Little Carlow’, it has RHS AGM status and is generally disease-free. With its masses of small blue flowers and yellow centres, I think, it is a good companion with Solidago Fireworks.
It will self seed around the garden, although it will not come true, it can however be propagated by division, preferably in the spring.
With it being a simple flower it is popular with the pollinators.
Do you have a favourite October flower?
Choosing a plant of the month at this time of year is a little like choosing your favourite child. Daucus carota, the wild annual carrot, flowering in the blue border mainly from self sown plants is my choice. I grew it two years ago from seed, there was none in the garden last year, now this year…
A simple drought tolerant plant, easy and cheap to grow, used by herbalists, loved by the pollinators and ideal for wildlife friendly gardening.
Do you currently have a favourite flower?
Prunus serrula is an all year round favourite tree in Our Garden@19. However at this time of year it is also popular with the bees, especially the honey bees. The flowers are quite small and insignificant compared to the bark. Standing under the canopy when in flower it is a buzz with bees.
You will need full volume to capture some of the sound, because the majority of the bees working in the top of the tree. I guess the nectar flow is greater there early in the morning, before the sun penetrates the canopy.
A friend sent this to me, I thought it was so appropriate I have now added it.
“Where the bee sucks, there suck I:
In a cowslip’s bell I lie;
There I couch when owls do cry.
On the bat’s back I do fly
After summer merrily.
Merrily, merrily shall I live now
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough.”
― William Shakespeare.
Is anything creating a buzz in your garden?
You can see more April Top Ten by visiting The Blooming Garden
Do you have a favourite or a top ten of your own?
The churchyard at Birlingham, Nr Pershore in Worcestershire has long been a pilgrimage for snowdrop lovers in the area. Bulb Teas are held each Saturday and Sunday in February until Sunday 24th February in the Village Hall from 11.00am to 4.00 pm.
The Grade II listed church of St James with its 15C tower, which at one time contained a dovecote, sits in the middle of the village by a small green, with the old school, now a private house, and the village hall.
The church was open and had been decorated with flower arrangements.
The teas and cakes were proving to be very popular on this beautiful afternoon in this charming Worcestershire village.
I have observed over the years that the birds visit our feeders in greater numbers on a wet day, more than any other weather, except snow.
These pictures were taken on Friday through the dining room window with the flash turned off. The Goldfinches were joined by a pair of Siskins and a Bluetit during that time.
Do you have visitors to your garden in the rain?
The end of the summer holiday saw us, with the grandchildren, visiting the Knapp and Paper-mill reserve of the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust. Link The reserve lies in the Teme valley and the Malvern Hills area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
After a picnic at the entrance to the site, where we were watched by a cheeky Robin, we set off to explore, our youngest granddaughter could remember visiting with her school, they do have an educational facility on site. You come first to the old orchard, where some of the trees were laden with apples, which I assume previously belonged to Knapp House…
You can venture down to the stream at several different places with a willow hide at one, placed specifically for viewing Kingfishers.
The Knapp weir was originally used to divert water to the watermill.
There are meadows…
…and steep wooded banks.
The hedgerows were bearing clusters of autumn fruit, which I am sure the bird life will appreciate later in the year.
The Elderberry has long been a favourite for making into wine. We made some many years ago, I have to record it was a nice but powerful drink.
The GuelderRose was looking spectacular, already developing its wonderful autumn leaf colour. The berries contain one seed which is distributed by the birds.
Wild Hops gracefully covered many of the hedgerows and trees. It is of course cultivated for the flavouring of beer. (There is an alcoholic theme developing here!) There are male and female hop plants, the female grows the flowers that we associate with beer brewing while the male has catkins. Worcestershire and Herefordshire was historically an important hop producing area along with Kent.
Also covering the trees and hedgerows was ‘Old Man’s Beard’, this is the country name given to the wild Clematis when it is covered with its whispery seed heads.
Standing on a small bridge over the steam the girls decided to play Pooh Sticks…
…The only problem was we could not tell which stick belonged to who, so they both claimed to have won!
The visit made a fitting end to the summer holidays, reminding us that autumn is on its way and like nature we should be filling the store cupboard. (Not least with wine to fight the winter chills!)
Today’s snow brought a new visitor to the garden, for this winter, the Pied Wagtail.
From the RSPB website:
“The pied wagtail, Motacilla alba, is a delightful small, long-tailed and rather sprightly black and white bird. When not standing and frantically wagging its tail up and down it can be seen dashing about over lawns or car parks in search of food.”
You can read more at the RSPB Website.
Has the snow brought you any new winter visitors?
The snow has brought on extra demand around the bird feeding stations with the arrival of the Thrush family, most notably the Fieldfares and the Redwings. they come in search of any berries on the holly bushes and remaining crab apples. I usually add to this natural supply with cut up apples.
To see my previous post Feed the Birds visit:Here
Have you had some winter visitors?
I along with many fellow bloggers enjoy watching and feeding the birds that visit our gardens throughout the year. New visitors to our garden@19 this winter have been, a fleeting glimpse of a Gold Crest, a male Bullfinch and on the niger seed feeder, the male and female Siskin.
They are sometimes referred to as the Black-headed Goldfinch, living mainly in woodland in Scotland, Wales and Europe. As with many other birds they migrate south during the winter searching for food.
I managed to capture some pictures of them on the feeders.
I posted about the birds that visit the garden and the different feeds I offer here, last year: Feed the Birds
Have you had any New Visitors this winter?
One of our favourite local places to visit is Croome Court (NT).
Ideally situated for a walk in the park land, visit to the house, church and end up with refreshments in the restaurant. During busy periods refreshments are served from a Tea Car and in a cafe in the Court.
“Croome Park was Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown’s first complete landscape design. He was brought to Croome in 1752 by George William Coventry, the 6th Earl of Coventry, who had just inherited Croome Court and its deer parks together with 15,000 acres of Worcestershire.
The new Earl was 28 years old and full of ideas on the new movement towards classicism in architecture and landscape design and probably saw the young Brown as a man whose aspirations matched his own. Together they set about transforming the 17th century house and its Dutch style parterre garden into an undulating rural idyll set about with trees and lakes and rolling away to the distant Malvern Hills. At the focal point of this scene sits the house, Croome Court, which was given a total face-lift that changed it into the Palladian style mansion that we see today
But there is a practical reason behind all this beauty – Croome Court sat on the edge of a bog. Brown, though, had an instinctive talent for understanding drainage and water management, so he created a lake and a mile and a half long serpentine river to draw away all the surplus water. His scheme worked and so the basis for the creation of what seems an entirely natural English landscape was set.”
From Friends of Croome website: http://www.friendsofcroomepark.org.uk
The Church, within the park is, St Mary Magdalene Church, Croome D’Abitot, which is a redundant Anglican church.
The original church at Croome was demolished by the 6th Earl of Coventry when he decided to replace his adjacent Jacobean house in the 1750s. His new house and park were designed and laid out by Capability Brown as was the church, set on a low hill nearby in Croome Park.
The Chinese bridge, originally designed by William Halfpenny in the 1740s for the 6th Earl of Coventry is in the popular Chinese style. The bridge spanned the river close to Croome Court and linked the house to the wider parkland. Sadly, the bridge is thought to have been lost to rot and decay only 100 years after it was built.
A new English Oak bridge was opened in 2017, identically built, using the original plans.
There was originally a deer park at Croome, they can occasionally be seen in the surrounding landscape. Today the wildlife is mainly squirrels and birds. Water fowl enjoy the river and there is a bird hide for visitors, looking out on to a collection of bird feeders.
If you are visiting Worcestershire, please add NT Croome Court to your itinerary.
Visitor information can be found Here
Do you have a favourite walk?
Today (Friday) was the first day of sunshine here and after too many days of rain, it does bring a song into your heart.
I ventured out into the garden to finish pruning the climbing roses, before I began, I decided to do a tour with the camera. The gardener’s friend, was as usual, keeping an eye on me while providing his own welcome tune.
The Mohonia in full flower, with the sunshine, brought the honey bees out from their hives.
They were also visiting the Clematis which scrambles all over it.
The Flowers and the Trees.
By the front door there are pots planted up for a seasonal display with Carex, Ferns, Cornus stolonifera ‘Flaviramea’, Erica x darleyensis ‘Phoebe’, Thuja ‘Goldy and the…
…and a hellebore.
Another pot contains the Sarcococca ‘Winter Gem’.
On the other side of the door an Euonymus is trained against the wall with Sarcococca confusa in front…
…the powerful scent from the Sacococca ( Christmas Box) fills the house every time the door is opened.
In the Oriental garden the Hamamelis is in full flower, I have mentioned before I would not recommend this variety, because it holds on to its dead leaves. I removed them all before taking this picture.
The sunshine was highlighting the Erica ‘Albert’s Gold’ by the entrance to the White and Green garden and the standard variegated Holly, Ilex ‘Argentea Margenata’ at the back.
Around the Holly are planters with variegated Myrtle, Tulips just starting to show and Vinca minor ‘Alba’
The snowdrops are beginning to open around the garden, especially where the sun reaches…
…the common double, which was given to me by a friend, are clumping up well, ready to divide later on…
…as is the winter aconite, although more slowly.
The Prunus Serrula always looks wonderful with the sunlight on its bark, its mug decorations ( Mug Tree) have so far survived the winter.
Around its roots is a Skimmia and variegated Ivy. Many gardeners fear ivy in the garden, I like to see it, the variegated forms are not so vigorous, while providing some colour to lighten a dark area of the garden along with being good for wildlife.
It is easy to ignore plants such as Skimmia when everything else is in full flower, however at this time of year they make a welcome contribution to the garden and this one below is a little more unusual than most.
The House Sparrows are gathering in the top of a Viburnum before diving down on to the ground feeders.
What ‘Birds and Bees, Flowers and Trees’ are making you sing in your garden?
I am joining Chloris and her many followers in posting my Top Ten for November, please visit The Blooming Garden to see what their Top Ten are.
Number one, the seed heads of the Lunaria, which provides a silvery shine in the low November sunlight. This plant provides interest through out the whole year, from the young leaves with their maroon spots, the dark purple flowers and now the seed heads.
…growing in front is a young Cotinus, we lost a mature one a few years ago, therefore we are looking forward to this one developing and flowering in the future.
These two ‘Grasses’ make a striking feature at the end of the pebble river in the Oriental Garden. I originally saw this plant combination when visiting The Bressingham Gardens, Nr Diss, Norfolk.
This Viburnum, in the White and Green Garden, is one of the earliest flowering shrubs in the garden. It flowers from early autumn through to late spring, and looks particularly good when there is a blue sky behind it.
Anna from the The Greentapestry was recently singing the praises of this rose, mentioning that it flowers from July to November.
Here it is in the Iris bed on the south side of the house…
…along with ‘ ‘Geoff Hamilton’, I am hoping this bud will open.
I will always have Viola’s in the garden, whether it’s the diminutive ‘Heartsease’ which I grow from seed, (it does also self seed), or ones purchased from garden centres to provide colour through out winter.
We were given two Clivia three years ago, one flowered the first year, none the next year and one, (yippie!) so far this year.
I am not sure if Number ten qualifies for a November favourite, although it is one of mine and it is in the garden. The first sighting, today, of the female Blackcap on the bird feeders. I always like to see the arrival of this aggressive little bird, she always arrives before the male and tries to defend the feeders from all comers. the down side is that it heralds the arrival of winter weather, ‘Up North’ which will eventually make its way here.
This is a picture from 2014, they are quite nervous and therefore difficult to photograph. You can see more ‘Birdie” pictures by clicking the Wildlife Category.
That is my Top Ten in Our Garden@ 19, for November, I wonder what will be around for December?
On Thursday here in sunny Worcestershire the day turned into a very wet one.
One thing I have observed over the years feeding birds in Our Garden@19 is the feeding frenzy that develops during wet weather.
I predominantly feed sunflower hearts, which all species of birds enjoy…
I also feed Niger seeds especially for the seed eaters.
I have included this picture below despite the reflections in the window. It contains I think 18 Goldfinches, there is interestingly an adult feeding a young one through the bars. The Goldfinches love the sunflower hearts, I think this is why we have so many visit the feeders. I enjoy seeing the adults bring the youngsters along during the breeding season.
A ‘Charm’ is the collective noun for a group of Goldfinches.
How many can you count?
I took the photos through the dining room window using a Canon 18-200mm lens with the flash turned off.
I know many bloggers feed the birds in their garden do you?
‘Feed the birds tuppence a bag’ goes the song from the film Mary Poppins. I feed the birds in the garden all year round, it costs a little more these days.
Observing birds in the garden and feeding them is, for me, an important element of enjoying the garden, which occasionally provides some photographic material.
These are some of the “Birdie” photographs I have taken in Our Garden@19 over the years.
The main bird feeders are on the patio just outside the dining room, ideal for bird watching, with three more around the garden.
Today all the feeders are inside these cages to prevent the pigeons and jackdaws from emptying the contents onto the floor. I have made trays for them from plastic flower pot saucers, with drainage holes drilled in them, to catch the spillages, which I empty onto a ground feeding tray for the pigeons and collared doves.
A Gardener’s Friend.
I spy food!
Going in for Breakfast.
28th November 2014, A Female Blackcap arrives on the bird feeders.
Is this a sign of colder weather on the way?
I have noticed in previous winters the female is the first to arrive.
They are a very aggressive little bird, for the first few weeks after arriving it spends all its time chasing other birds away from the feeders.
Male Blackcap arrived 13th December 2014.
We have a family of House Sparrows that live under the roof tiles who regularly visit the feeders. I haven’t managed to photograph them they don’t stay still long enough, similarly with the Wren that visits, one November day I could hear one chirping away, from inside the house above ‘Jools’ on the CD player. How can such a small bird make so much noise!
From the smallest to the largest.
Well someone has to clear up any spillages!
The Collard Doves waiting to go down and help.
Mr & Mrs Blackbird arrive looking for their breakfast under the bird feeders.
Other ground feeders to visit are the Starlings…
…and very rarely the Chaffinch.
Great Tits and Blue Tits feed differently to most other birds, they fly in and select a seed.
Then they return to the safety of the trees, holding the seed with their feet, where they eat it, before returning for another.
One winter I noticed a different bird on the feeders, it looked as if it had red head markings, I quickly took some photos and then consulted my Readers Digest Book of British Birds to discover they were Red Polls.
Red Poll’s on the niger seed feeder.
The main visitors to the feeders, both numerically and for colour, are the Goldfinches.
One day when idly looking out through the kitchen window, I noticed this brown bunch of feathers sat on the Pear Arch.
The foods I now provide are sunflower hearts, niger seed, fat balls and dried meal worms. I purchase them from Vine Tree Farm. Their food is reasonably priced, mainly UK grown and they donate 10% of sales to the Wild Life Trust in your post code area. (I have no commercial links to them).
I am testing these feeders (2020) to see if there is less wastage without using the cages.
The majority of the pictures were taken through the dining room window with the flash turned off using my Canon 18-200mm lens.
Please click on any picture to enlarge.
Feeding and watching the birds that visit Our Garden@19 is one of the joys of owning a garden. Photographing them is more of a challenge!