2022 Calendar.

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.

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
Cover Picture

I have chosen my favourite photograph from last year as a calendar cover picture.

Do you have a favourite picture from 2021?

Happy 2022.

Trees for the small garden.

With encouragement from the Government and countryside organisations such as the RHS and NT there is an increasing interest in planting trees and the benefits to the environment of doing so. While most of these reported on are on a large scale, if chosen correctly there are some wonderful ornamental and fruitful trees for even the smallest garden. 

Our garden is approximately 125ft by 45 and within it we have 12 ornamental and 12 fruit trees.

One favourite, Acers can be grown in a pot for many years. They will grow in any reasonable soil although they do prefer soil on the acid side which can be achieved by mixing some ericaceous compost in the pot or planting hole. You can purchase simple soil test kits to find out if you have acid or alkaline soil.

Acer palmatum ‘Senkaki’’

We have several Acers in our garden, Acer griseum is a special one. It looks wonderful with the winter sun shining through its peeling cinnamon-like bark.

In the oriental garden, a favourite one is Acer Negundo Flamingo, its variegated leaves consisting of green centres splashed at the edges with salmon pink, which later turn cream. The trunk of this tree is now four foot tall, the branches above this are pollarded in January to help keep it compact along with preventing it from reverting to all green leaves.

 Also in the Oriental garden is the Ginkgo biloba it’s autumn foliage turning a deep saffron yellow. It is a member of a very old genus, with some fossilised leaves found dating back 200 million years. They can grow up to 100 ft tall, I purchased a young 4 ft one which I prune in January to keep it as a column shape.

The Sorbus family is worth considering, Sorbus Eastern Promise is a lovely small tree, perfect for the small garden, its dark green leaves turn deep purple and orange before falling onto our garden during the autumn.

Sorbus Olympic Flame is one to seek out, it is a small, highly colourful Japanese Rowan tree with a columnar habit distinctive for its large foliage that starts coppery in the spring before turning green in summer and fiery red come autumn.

You cannot mention autumn colour without considering the Liquidambar we have Liquidambar slyraciflua ‘Stella’.

One in our neighbour’s garden is particularly stunning in the autumn, always turning colour before ours. This will eventually become a large tree, fortunately it is slow-growing.

Spring colour can be provided by the magnolia family, ‘Lennei’ with its pink-white flowers can grow to 20ft without pruning. A more compact variety is Magnolia stellata.

There is a wide selection of ornamental Cherry trees for the garden. This unknown one in our garden is loved by the honey bees.

Although normally associated with spring blossom, there is Prunus Autumnalis, an Autumn-Winter flowering cherry with white blossom. It is a small tree, suitable for most small gardens. Choose a variety with a single rather than a double flower for the pollinators.

I call Prunus serrula our Champion Tree, it is grown for its wonderful mahogany bark although its delicate flowers are loved by honey bees.

Decorated as a mug tree for our open gardens.

The Silver Birch Betula jacquemontii is considered the best for white bark. With its upright habit it can be grown as a single or multi-stemmed feature. It can reach 4metres within ten years when some carful pruning will be required if you need to control its eventual height and shape. 

I think the first choice of tree for any small garden should be fruit trees. The modern grafted Apple tree is well suited to any size garden. We have in our garden Malus ‘Blenheim Orange’, ‘Grenadier’, ‘Hereford Russett’, ‘Kidd’s Orange Red’, ‘Rosette’ and of course Worcester Pearmain’. We also have the Cherry ‘Sunburst’, the Pear ‘Invincible’, Plums ‘Opal’, Victoria the ‘Cambridge Greengage’ and the Crab Apple ‘Golden Hornet’ trained as a globe.

The smallest of the trained fruit tree are the step-over apple trees, 18 inches to 2ft tall with a level side branch trained each side, you can literally step over them. They are very productive, often found in French Potagers and are excellent for edging a vegetable border or herb garden. Apples, pears and cherries can be decoratively trained into fan shapes, espaliers and cordons. Plums can be trained as a fan. Ensure it is grown on a ‘Pixy’ rootstock or it will be too vigorous. Plums should not be pruned during winter because silver-leaf and canker can enter through the cuts. Young trees can be trained in the spring with more established ones in the summer.

Fan trained Cherry, Prunus ‘Sunburst’

You can purchase any of these already trained, although expensive you are buying time. Alternatively, you can buy much cheaper bare-root two-year-old whips during the winter.

 While many people find pruning daunting it is very rewarding to see a trained fruit tree in blossom knowing there is fruit to follow. I would recommend obtaining a copy of the RHS book Pruning and Training it covers everything from trees to shrubs, climbers, roses, soft fruit and tree fruits. 

When visiting gardens and nurseries look out for some of those mentioned above and talk to garden owners. It is worth taking your time before buying a tree as it is a worthwhile, long term investment but can be an expensive mistake to rectify.

Malus Rosette in the raised bed with Malus Blenheim Orange trained as an espalier on the Oriental Garden fence.

The wildlife enjoy the trees all year as a safe landing area before visiting the bird feeders or as a source of food. You see them feeding on the insects hiding in the trees during the spring and summer or the fruits during winter.

A New Visitor.

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.

On the entrance to the Japanese Garden.
With a Goldfinch.

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?

Wildlife in Our Garden and Autumn Colour.

Goldfinches feeding on sunflower hearts.
Vitis ‘ Spetchley red ‘ 
Fuchia ‘Mrs Popple’
Malus Golden Hornet and Tithonia ‘Torch’

The Alpine Boxes and pots.
Nerine Bowdenii

Please select Watch on YouTube then full screen for video.

What is giving you Autumn Joy in the garden or countryside?

Spetchley Park Gardens in May.

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?

Ivy and the Bees.

Why you should allow some ivy to grow in your garden.

Wild Ivy in flower.

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.

Ground cover under the Bug Hotel.
Hedra helix Gold Child on a shady fence.

Do you grow ivy in your garden?

St Wulstan’s Nature Reserve.

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

With the Malvern Hills in the back ground.

Because of its sweet honey like scent ladies bedstraw was used for bedding

Wild Parsnip.

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?

The Six NGS Gardens of Hanley Swan.

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.

A Winter Project and a Wildlife Friendly Experiment.

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?

Plant of the month.

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?

Plant of the month.

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…

Scarlet Tiger Moth, you see the red underneath when it opens its wings.

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?

The season of Mellow Fruitfulness & Pooh Sticks.

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…

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You can venture down to the stream at several different places with a willow hide at one, placed specifically for viewing Kingfishers.

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Leigh Brook

The Knapp weir was originally used to divert water to the watermill.

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There are meadows…

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…and steep wooded banks.

 

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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.

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Sambucus nigra

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The GuelderRose was looking spectacular, already developing its wonderful autumn leaf colour. The berries contain one seed which is distributed by the birds.

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Viburnum opulus

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.

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Humulus lupulus

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.

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Clematis vitalba

Standing on a small bridge over the steam the girls decided to play Pooh Sticks…

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…The only problem was we could not tell which stick belonged to who, so they both claimed to have won!

IMG_3987The 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!)

 

Drought Busters July 2018.

Those of you living and gardening in the UK do not need me to tell you that we are ‘enjoying’ one of the hottest June/July periods for some time, with day time temperatures reaching 30c. Whilst for many of you reading this in other parts of the world this may not be unusual, but here it is , testing both the gardener and their plants.

These plants featured are the drought busters in Our Garden@19. Interestingly I originally grew them all from seed, except for the allium, also some of them have since self seeded around the garden.

The wild chicory towers above almost every thing in the garden, here in the herb bed, growing through the standard gooseberry. It is a beautiful shade of light blue.

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Cichorium intybus. Wild Chicory.

Also towering above everything else are the teasels, this is the first year I have grown them. Listening to a talk by Fergus Garrett inspired me to plant them and they allow them to self seed around Great Dixter. They are good for wild life especially the pollinators and the seeds are said to be loved by Goldfinches in winter. I have only planted two in the garden, they can dominate if left to their own devices.

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Dipsacus fullonum Common Teasel.

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Dipsacus fullonum
Common Teasel.

The ‘thistle-like’ plants always do well in dry conditions, here Echinops ritro, is yet to bloom…

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Echinops ritro.

…also ‘Miss Willmotts Ghost’, I do like this spiky plant. It is I think, a little like the lady it was named after. Especially if you worked for her.

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Eryngium giganteum ‘Miss Willmotts Ghost’.

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Eryngium giganteum ‘Miss Willmotts Ghost’.

The wild carrot has seeded itself around the garden including here between two paving slabs, thus preventing anyone from sitting on this chair!

Similarly the Lychnis of both colours have seeded in the gravel…

…and the Linaria seeds around everywhere!

In a sunny spot by the banana bench and in the alpine boxes on the south side of the house, is Dianthus carthusianorum, with its clusters of diminutive deep pink flowers.

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Dianthus carthusianorum.

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Dianthus carthusianorum.

I am ending with this single Allium ‘Red Mohican’. I wish I had more!

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Allium ‘Red Mohican’.

An interesting fact about these plants is that several of them were for sale during our open weekend and very few of them sold, because, I guess, they were not in flower at that time.

I wonder if they would sell now?

Do you have any ‘Drought Busters’ in your garden?

New Winter Visitor.

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.

 

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Pied Wagtail.

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Pied Wagtail.

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Enjoying dried meal worms.

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With a Black Bird friend eyeing up the pear on the feeder.

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Has the snow brought you any new winter visitors?

Feed the Birds. March 2018.

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.

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This is my apple.

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Fieldfare

Fieldfare

 

Song Thrush.

Redwing.

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Redwing.

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Redwing

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Robin on the dried meal worm feeder.

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Robin

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Female Blackcap.

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Female Blackcap enjoying dried mealworms.

 

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Male Blackbird and the Lion guarding the entrance to the Oriental Garden.

Young female Blackbird.

Female Blackbird.

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Starling.

To see my previous post Feed the Birds visit:Here

Have you had some winter visitors?

New 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.

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Goldfinch and female Siskin.

Female Siskin.
Female Siskin.

Male Siskin
Male Siskin.

 

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?

 

The Birds and the Bees…

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.

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The Mohonia in full flower, with the sunshine, brought the honey bees out from their hives.

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Mahonia Bealii

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They were also visiting the Clematis which scrambles all over it.

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Clematis cirrhosa balearica

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…

 

…Snowdrop elwesii…

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Galanthus elwesii

…and a hellebore.

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Another pot contains the Sarcococca ‘Winter Gem’.

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Sarcococca ‘Winter Gem’

On the other side of the door an Euonymus is trained against the wall with Sarcococca confusa in front…

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Sarcococca confusa

…the powerful scent from the Sacococca ( Christmas Box) fills the house every time the door is opened.

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Sarcococca confusa with Euonymus Emerald & Gold

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.

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Hamamelis Moll Pallida (Witch Hazel)

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.

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Around  the Holly are planters with variegated Myrtle, Tulips just starting to show and Vinca minor ‘Alba’

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Ilex aquifolium ‘Argentea Margenata’ & Myrtus Communis Variegata

The snowdrops are beginning to open around the garden, especially where the sun reaches…

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Galanthus nivalis

…the common double, which was given to me by a friend, are clumping up well, ready to divide later on…

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Galanthus ‘Flore Pleno’.

…as is the winter aconite, although more slowly.

Winter Aconite
Eranthus hyemalis

The Prunus Serrula always looks wonderful with the sunlight on its bark, its mug decorations ( Mug Tree) have so far survived the winter.

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Prunus serrula

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.

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Skimmia japonica ‘Rubella’ & Variegated Hedra.

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.

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Skimmia Hermaphrodite

The House Sparrows are gathering in the top of a Viburnum before diving down on to the ground feeders.

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What ‘Birds and Bees, Flowers and Trees’ are making you sing in your garden?

 

 

 

Ten Top for November.

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.

Lunaria annua ‘Rosemary Verey’

…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.

Cotinus ‘Royal Purple’.

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.

Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’, hakone grass and Opheapogon Nigrescens, black mondo grass.

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.

Viburnum f ‘candidissimum’

Anna from the The Greentapestry was recently singing the praises of this rose, mentioning that it flowers from July to November.

Rosa ‘The Fairy’

Here it is in the Iris bed on the south side of the house…

Rosa ‘The Fairy’

…along with ‘ ‘Geoff Hamilton’, I am hoping this bud will open.

Rosa ‘Geoff Hamilton’

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.

Viola ‘Heartsease’

We were given two Clivia three years ago, one flowered the first year, none the next year and one, (yippie!) so far this year.

Clivia.

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?

 

 

 

A ‘Charm’ in the rain.

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…

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A ‘Charm’  of Goldfinches.

I also feed Niger seeds especially for the seed eaters.IMG_2604

 

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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?

IMG_2608I 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?