Swifts

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I am reliably informed that something may have gone wrong last week so I am reposting this blog.  I still haven’t seen any swifts, but have spotted both swallows and martins. If you spot one of these birds and it is on a telegraph wire – it is definitely not a swift.

I am on Swift watch and listen. There distinctive screaming is a true summer sound.

These birds are due to appear any day now. At least one has been at Chew Valley Lake, but here they have usually appeared on May 6th. This year I have volunteered to try to count and locate their nests. I have a sneaky feeling that this will be harder than I think but as they are only here for 3 months, it won’t be too onerous. A few fascinating facts about these birds.

  1. They fly very quickly – one bird flew 1,300km in 3 days – 425km a day – ie Bristol  to Belfast in a day. That’s up to Easy Jet standard.
  2. They only land to nest. So they sleep and mate as they fly!
  3. They are long-lived – unless they get shot over Malta / France / Europe.
  4. Like swans they mate for life.
  5. They are not related to swallows and martins, but strangely  related to hummingbirds.
  6. It is almost impossible to tell the sexes apart – even when held in the hand.
  7. They have almost no legs and tiny feet due to adaptations for flying.

So what plants do I have in my garden to remind me of these birds. Well the wonderfully fast growing Swift potatoes bought from Wilkos. These are up and growing really well. Apparently I will be swiftly tucking into delicious early new potatoes by the end of May. I can’t see any flower buds yet, but I’ve already earthed them up, so it won’t be long.

When you spot these amazing birds please can you record the date and location as the RSPB are concerned and anyone can help. Google RSPB swift and submit your information. Accurate data helps the RSPB discover ways of protecting birds.

Take care over the next few nights with predictions of frost – throw an old sheet etc over any delicate plants / fruit trees – the blossom has been fantastic, it will a shame not to have any fruit due to the frost.

Finally Happy Hyggering – recall and enjoy those memories as you water your garden.

Swifts

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I am on Swift watch and listen. There distinctive screaming is a true summer sound.

These birds are due to appear any day now. At least one has been at Chew Valley Lake, but here they have usually appeared on May 6th. This year I have volunteered to try to count and locate their nests. I have a sneaky feeling that this will be harder than I think but as they are only here for 3 months, it won’t be too onerous. A few fascinating facts about these birds.

  1. They fly very quickly – one bird flew 1,300km in 3 days – 425km a day – ie Bristol  to Belfast in a day. That’s up to Easy Jet standard.
  2. They only land to nest. So they sleep and mate as they fly!
  3. They are long-lived – unless they get shot over Malta / France / Europe.
  4. Like swans they mate for life.
  5. They are not related to swallows and martins, but strangely  related to hummingbirds.
  6. It is almost impossible to tell the sexes apart – even when held in the hand.
  7. They have almost no legs and tiny feet due to adaptations for flying.

So what plants do I have in my garden to remind me of these birds. Well the wonderfully fast growing Swift potatoes bought from Wilkos. These are up and growing really well. Apparently I will be swiftly tucking into delicious early new potatoes by the end of May. I can’t see any flower buds yet, but I’ve already earthed them up, so it won’t be long.

When you spot these amazing birds please can you record the date and location as the RSPB are concerned and anyone can help. Google RSPB swift and submit your information. Accurate data helps the RSPB discover ways of protecting birds.

Take care over the next few nights with predictions of frost – throw an old sheet etc over any delicate plants / fruit trees – the blossom has been fantastic, it will a shame not to have any fruit due to the frost.

Finally Happy Hyggering – recall and enjoy those memories as you water your garden.

 

 

Easter hens and chicks

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Happy Easter everyone. It’s the season of chicks and eggs.

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For those of you who are new to my blog, I am writing every week about my garden which contains plants that are named after my family, birds or ones that create a memory. When I walk around these plants enable my mind to drift of remembering all kinds of memories. Hence the blog name of My Hygge garden – pleasure from small things.

There is something architecturally beautiful about Sempervivums and they have become even more lovely since I have learnt that as a huge family (1,600+) their nickname is ‘Hens and chicks’. It suits them down to the ground, and with a family and bird themed garden, I can expand this easy to grow families of plants.

So, I need to find a large round shallow terracotta dish which I can fill with a gritty free draining compost. I will then add a gravel path and a few rocks (my husband has had a habit of collecting one special stone from various beaches over the last few years, and I think this would make a better resting place for them than on his study desk!) With a tasteful little house and a few dolls house accessories it will grow into a robust fairy garden for my delightful grand-daughter, Pippa to play with when she comes to visit. I am hoping that this play garden will provide the seed that will probably take years or even a decade to germinate,  but will eventually enable her to find enjoyment from gardening.

So, with memories of my own childhood, when I had my own chick called Arabella floating in mind, I will leave you enjoy all those Easter eggs and chick filled days. Whatever you do over Easter,  enjoy the moment, the perfume, the colours and hopefully some sunshine.

 

 

Tulips from Amsterdam

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I am so pleased with this wonderful tulip called Happy Family, even though it is supposed to be a multi-flowered tulip. I guess it produced single flowers because I didn’t plant the bulbs deep enough. (Typically I used the pots I had to hand)  I just love the colour and the shape – I hadn’t appreciated until this spring how much tulips open and close depending on the amount of sun.

I bought Happy Family as a Christmas idea, which I should have been more confident with giving. However I had these left over, and kept them for myself. Sometimes things have a way of working out for the best. I had this idea that giving a tub of Happy Family tulips would be different to my other stalwart Christmas gift ideas of a box of biscuits / chocolates / tin of sweets, which nice as they are to receive, at Christmas you can find that you have one too many. This gift is also gluten-free, diabetic friendly, you name it, they fit the bill as gifts for both friends and neighbours.

Three other tulip names that could make presents are –

  1. Merlot, for those friends who are very fussy over their wine!  Add it alongside a bottle and your gift will be more meaningful. This picture was taken on a very warm day, so the tulips have lost some of their shape, but the colour is perfect.IMG_4346.JPG
  2. Big Brother – even though my brother is younger than me, he is taller, and this tulip is certainly tall, it flowers a little later but is such an elegant shape and exquisite colour.IMG_4723
  3. Finally you can never fail with Big Smiles, another really tall, late flowering tulip that certainly brings a Big Smile to your face.IMG_4724

All you have to do is grab the catalogues and start scanning and planning. There  are over 2,000 varieties of tulips to choose from. However I will remind you nearer the ordering time. However looking at my old catalogue, there is an Easter Surprise, a large yellow tulip….now let me think, who would like one of those next year instead of an Easter Egg. With Easter falling on 1st April, it could make a good April Fools…

 

Peas and Linnets

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What a wonderful little bird a linnet is. I have usually seen these birds in flocks as I have wandered along the South West Coast Path. It used to take me sometime to identify it, but it sings as it flits and flies, and it is this that really alerts you to its identification. Then  there’s the fact that you keep seeing them and it is in fact a largish group. Finally you spot the males pinkish breast and it’s crystal clear, it’s the Linnet.

I stumbled upon a packet of Mr Fothergill’s Linnet Pea seeds, available in most garden centres and DIY stores. I have never planted this variety before, having been content to plant the entirely reliable Kelvedon Wonder, using the tough old seeds that I found on the end of last seasons plant to plant the following spring. (I am the original cheapskate)

So in the bright sunshine I made two channels with my hoe and dropped the seeds in every 4 inches (10cm).  All I need to do NOW is to wander over to the woods and find some pea sticks for them to climb up. If I shilly-shally when I push the sticks into the ground I will undoubtedly damage the tender young roots. If I can’t find any pea sticks, then I will have to find another way.

I guess I will be using the left over mesh that we used to stop the squirrels and badger digging up the wild spring meadow, which I am delighted with, here’s what it looks like now. I love the dark pink …which should have been Blue Parrot and Blue Heron but guess I received Cerise Parrot or Bastogne Parrot.(What a wonderful mistake)..and the really deep rich red of Merry Christmas at the back.img_4104.jpgBefore I go, I am off to fill the watering can with some tomato feed, to feed all those tiny young small plants, the new sweet peas, about to show dahlias, the budding clematis, etc. When do you need the most food?  When you’re young or a growing teenager, so do the same for your plants. This is when I really Hygge, mothering my plants and reflecting on their development.

Who will I find in my garden tonight?

 

Mother Nature

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Mothers Love                                               Jenny

How amazing – yesterday was Mothers Day, and nature did her thing!

  BIG TIME

  The glorious sunshine coaxed tulips Mothers Love to open quickly followed by Jenny (my daughters name) – it brought a lump to my throat.

The perfect Mothers Day gift.

So, Mothers Day dances around the calendar and the same might never happen again, but, I really recommend buying Tulip Mothers Love and if at all possible, one of the many thousand, other tulips named after your child or children.

I must admit my son who did visit, was slightly miffed that he wasn’t represented……… so  now I have a definite focus for my forthcoming visit to the tulip fields in Amsterdam.      There are more than 2400 different varieties to choose from…so there HAS to be one that fits.

 

Daddy’s girl

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Memories, memories.

As I glimpse out of my study window I spy a bank of Martin-ette speckled with Jenny daffodils. Daddy  (Martinette) with his little girl (Jenny) twisting him round her little finger. The side border edged with good strong Fortune daffodils. I gently realise how blessed I am. Before I know it I have stopped and recalled so many happy times. Hygge gardening, who would believe a few plants could make such a difference to your well being.

I am very pleased with last years project which was to turn my dull bank into something wonderful. The soil is poor, and it’s hard to mow.  So I bought some bulbs from J. Parkers. Now the tulips are pushing through and teasingly showing tints of red, maybe Merry Xmas, Happy Family, Big Brother, Big Smiles,  Jimmy  or even a Parrot or Heron variety.

  • Obviously there are lessons to learn and that’s the thing with gardening it’s always teasing you into changing this and that. So…I need to find a Robert daffodil, and thanks to Mr Scamp (his name conjures up a wonderful image) at Quality Daffodils sending me his catalogue, I think I have found an almost match – Bally- Robert, or will I choose First born, decisons, decisions. I can add some more bulbs in the autumn to make spring a carpet of husband and two children.  I like this idea. Which variety shall I choose?

Ballyrobert                                                       First Born

  • The grass hasn’t grown as much as I expected so this year I won’t mow after early October , so that the grass can better support the daffodils.
  • Finally I think I will add some Harmony iris – and I am quite pleased with this photo I took.

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With harmony amongst my family what more could I want.

How can you Hygge your garden?