11 June 2010

A week in the garden

Firstly I have to admit that I haven't exactly spent all week gardening, or even in the garden. I've tried to do a bit of clearing up, and this morning we cut the tops off some willow trees which were getting too tall to prune easily. Weeding is just about impossible, as everything grows faster than I can weed, and with orchids coming up everywhere including the garden beds and tubs, it's hard to weed without pulling some out accidentally.

Our drive is now a mass of Fairy Foxglove (Erinus alpinus). I bought one small pot of this some years ago and it has seeded itself everywhere where it can find suitable habitat - in gravel and cracks in concrete.

This flower originates from southern Europe, but has been known in the wild since 1867 and has spread rapidly recently, particularly on the walls of ruins.

A couple of years ago, Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium montanum) appeared in our drive among the Fairy Foxglove. Its appearance is a total mystery as I haven't seen it in any other local gardens. Its blue flowers open only in sunshine.

Another small plant which has seeded itself prolifically in our drive is the New Zealand Willowherb (Epilobium brunnescens).

This tiny plant, related to the very much larger willowherbs including Rosebay, was first seen in the wild in Edinburgh in 1904 and has spread widely since then, particularly in the north and west of the UK. We often find it on forestry paths when we are out walking.

I'm seldom in the garden for long before some of the birds start arriving, hoping for food. The most regular is this jackdaw, who is nesting in a chimney across the road. If I happen to walk past the chimney on my way home, he often flies down and accompanies me to the door where, of course, he usually gets rewarded with some food.

I suspect he is feeding young, as he collects a considerable amout of food before flying back with it to the chimney, then returning a few minutes later. If I'm in the garden for any length of time, I'm usually soon surrounded by any number of jackdaws and starlings.

Some of the tits are also getting quite bold. This coal tit flew back and forth to the feeder while I was standing only about a meter away.

I was about to refill the peanut feeder when I discovered this Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata) inside. I have no idea how it could have got there.

Dandelions are a very common weed in our garden, and it's usually impossible to get the long roots out. I pulled this one out of one of the tubs and about 30cm of root came with it. I was interested to see that, although it was two plants, the two roots had fused to form one single root.

On Wednesday morning I was up early - at about 6 am - to refill the duck food trays. I opened the front door and found myself face to face with a fox. Of course it was away long before I could get my camera on it. One of our neighbours saw a roe deer on our front garden a week or two earlier. These visitors are never around the houses during the daytime, but on Thursday we surprised this one in a nearby field. It cleared the fence with no problem.

In the nearby fields we have noticed that everything seems to be flowering more vigourously than usual. This hawthorn is so covered in flowers that there is almost no room for the leaves.

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